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Hunting fleas is difficult, but it can be impossible if you do not know how they live. The adult female is simply an egg-laying machine, laying 50 to 100 eggs a day! Before they die, females can lay several thousand eggs, which fall off the pet into the environment.

For every 1 adult flea seen on your pet, the environment around your pet has 50 eggs and 45 larvae and pupae! Eggs hatch in less than a week, and this larvae will feed on flea dirt and debris. Larvae spin a cacoon before entering the pupae stage, where they wait.

Inside the cocoon, the pupae are protected from insecticide and toxins. They're located out of the way, under chairs or containers where they are protected from sunlight. Plus, they anchor to the carpet and grass making mechanical cleaning useless. If needed, they can stay in the pupae stage for a year. Pupae are stimulated to "hatch" by vibrations in the area or carbon dioxide. Timing allows adults to emerge when they have the best chance of finding a mammal to feed on.

Adults emerge hungry, and they will feed and mate as soon as they find a host. Fleas feed several times a day for up to 4 hours each time, which they can do because their saliva has a protein that prevents the blood from clotting. This saliva protein is also the reason for flea allergies, which cause the pet to scratch and tear at their skin. Adult fleas pass a pepper-looking feces called flea dirt, which is digested blood. Flea dirt is a rich food for the larve in the environment, and it will turn red on a white paper towel if you wet it.

So how do you hunt down these pests and get rid of them? Treatment failure commonly occurs in the environment - if you only treat the adults on your dogs and not the environment, 95% of the fleas will go untouched. Adults are easy to kill and easily replaced with the remaining pupae. That means it's important to set a game plan.

Vacuum the areas, especially under tables, chairs and shelving, then dispose of the vacuumed contents in a plastic bag. This removes the eggs in the area. Wash, scrub, and clean under everything. spray the environment with an insecticide that contains an IGR ( Insect Growth Regulator), which is the only way to get rid of pupae - the IGR is a flea hormone that prevents the pupae from maturing, and they die in the cocoon. Extended release ( ER) insecticides also work. It is critical to make sure you spray under the funiture, shelving, etc. Most products today are safe for your dogs, but as a precaution, let them dry before putting your dog back in the environment. This only takes a few minutes.

Bathe or spray the dog with a flea spray or shampoo and treat the dog with a monthly product to prevent re-infestation. You will not be able to get all the pupae the first time, but the topical treatment on your dog will take care of the new adults. make sure you re-apply the treatment each month until the problem is under control. Be careful when bringing a new dog in, because you don't know its flea status. As a precaution, it's a good idea to spray them with a pyrethrum spray. Though these sprays only last 24 hours, they are safe and effective against fleas.

Spray the yard with an insecticide. when fighting flea issues, use sprays with an extended release insecticide. Spray up on the building with the dog locked inside. Wildlife, rabbits, squirrels, and feral cats are a big source of fleas in your area so spray a barrier around your home in the spring and fall to keep fleas out.

I also use Diatomaceous Earth on my dogs and farm animals. In their food and on the soil. You can check it out at Thomas Laboratories, 9165 W. Van Buren , Tolleson AZ, 85353. Phone no. 1-800-359-8387.

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