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What are fleas?

Fleas are tiny, wingless, reddish-brown insects that live together in large populations. Their bodies are hard and narrow, which makes these insects difficult to crush. Fleas are ectoparasites, and feed on the blood of mammals – and sometimes people – using their specialized, piercing mouthparts.

flea jumping on skin

Fleas have large, powerful back legs they use to jump and move through the fur of their hosts. With an impressive eight-inch vertical jump, fleas can easily jump onto hosts or jump out of the way of a predator. Although fleas are small – only the size of a speck of dirt – they can cause big problems for people once they find their way onto our properties.

Are fleas dangerous?

Fleas can harbor some bacterial diseases, but the spread of disease by these insects in the United States is not a considerable threat. Fleas do, however, cause some other serious problems for people and our pets:

  • Having fleas living in your home is stressful. They are difficult to eliminate, and while people are not their preferred host, they will bite us.
  • Many people and animals are allergic to flea saliva, and will develop an itchy rash when bitten. Flea bites often become infected due to excessive itching.
  • Fleas are intermediate hosts of tapeworm, which they can pass on to both animals and people.
  • Animals that are heavily infested with blood-feeding fleas may become very ill and severely anemic.

Why do I have a flea problem?

The flea’s only source of food is blood, and they spend most of their lives feeding and breeding on the backs of their animal hosts. They are most often introduced onto properties by wild animals, including mice and squirrels. Their eggs will roll off the backs of their hosts and onto the ground where they develop into new fleas.

Fleas move into homes and other structures after coming into contact with you, your kids, or pets in your backyard or another outdoor space. Fleas can also hitchhike their way into structures inside used furniture, clothing, or rugs, already infested with their eggs or larvae.

It is also important to note that flea eggs can stay dormant for long periods, only hatching when the right environmental conditions are met. Because of this, you could have flea eggs in your home for weeks or months before an infestation develops.

Where will I find fleas?

Because they can successfully live and breed both indoors and outdoors, fleas are difficult pests to avoid. Outside, while waiting for a host to come by that they can jump onto, fleas prefer to hide in shaded areas like the moist soil under decks, under leaf or woodpiles, or in dense vegetation.

Inside our homes, fleas live in the areas where your pets spend most of their time, especially around their sleeping areas. You’ll also find fleas or their eggs in the cracks of floors, in carpets, and behind baseboards.

How do I get rid of fleas?

Get rid of fleas from your Central New York property with the help of local, experienced professionals. At Sweeney’s Pest Elimination, we have been protecting people and property from our area’s most common pests for over 20 years.

If you are experiencing problems with fleas, our professionals will take care of the problem and put into place the services needed to stop them from returning. To learn more about our Ithaca home pest control or commercial pest control solutions and eliminate fleas from your Central New York property, contact us at Sweeney’s Pest Elimination today!

How can I prevent fleas in the future?

In addition to our professional home pest control services, avoid future problems with fleas by putting into place the following prevention tips:

  • Place pets on a year-round flea management program under the guidance of their veterinarian.
  • Clean up leaf piles and excess piles of wood from your property where fleas can hide.
  • Inspect yourself, kids, and pets for fleas before coming indoors.
  • If you own pets, have them regularly bathed and groomed.
  • Vacuum your floors, furniture, and along the edges of walls regularly.
  • Routinely wash your pet’s bedding as well as your own.

More pests

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View our full pest library