If you have pets, you probably already know — flea season is here. Few pests are more annoying or more difficult to eliminate, although insecticides designed for flea treatments are getting better all the time.
Fleas are tiny insects (only 1/16 to 1/8 inch long), which feed on the blood of mammals. They typically infest homes in which pets are present, but will feed on humans, too. There are several different species, including the cat flea, dog flea, human flea, and Northern rat flea, ranging in color from a light reddish-brown to a dark brown, but their behavior is so similar that it isn’t necessary to focus on the differences between species for pest management purposes.
Fleas do not fly. They’re wingless. However, they can jump up to seven inches vertically, and thirteen inches horizontally, which gives the impression that they are flying.
Fleabites usually cause pale red, raised itching spots, and often appear in clusters or lines. Adult fleas can survive for several months without a meal, so leaving for a long vacation isn’t going to solve your problem — the fleas will just be ravenous when you get back! Fleas are more of a nuisance than a danger to humans and pets, but can cause a number of problems. Some people are allergic to flea saliva, and develop painful rashes when bitten. And, like other blood-feeding insects, fleas can act as vectors for diseases.
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