What time of year are fleas the worst? Fall is the most likely season to have a flea infestation explode in most parts of the country. A preemptive strike on flea populations is much preferred to letting fleas strike first and trying to put them down once they are established. The adult female flea is an egg-laying machine – feeding on blood and laying 50 to 100 eggs a day! Female fleas can lay several thousand eggs before dying of old age. Eggs fall off the pet into the environment where they can winter.
How Many Fleas Are In My House?
For every one adult flea on your pet, there are 50 eggs and 45 larvae and pupae in the environment your pet lives in. Eggs hatch in less than a week and the resulting larvae will feed on flea dirt (digested blood) and debris. Larvae spin a cocoon and enter the pupae stage where they wait.
The pupae stage is protected in the cocoon from cold, insecticides, and toxins. They are anchored to carpets or floor and cause mechanical vacuuming to be useless. Outside pupae anchor to brush, cracks in wood, or brush piles that stabilize them for the winter. They are located out of the way, under chairs, beds, tables, decks, piled debris, or brush where they are protected from sunlight. They can stay in the pupae stage for a year if needed, and they can certainly live through the winter. Pupae are stimulated to “hatch” by vibrations of movement of people and pets or carbon dioxide. Timing allows adults to emerge when they have the best chance of finding a mammal to feed on. Inside buildings where temps are moderated, pupae will hatch year round in the presence of animals.
Best Time for Outdoor Flea Treatment
Preemptive fall outdoor flea treatment will decrease the number of eggs that get overwintered to spring. Adult fleas are looking to feed and lay eggs to overwinter. Approaching winter won’t bother fleas in the egg or pupae stage and they will be ready to repopulate your area as soon as winters grip is lost. Treating exercise areas, yards, and outside kennels in September will decrease eggs that overwinter and result in fewer hatching next spring.
If we have used Permethrin 10% this year, — use Cylence Ultra Premise Spray to spray the area. Changing insecticide families will avoid getting resistance. If you have not used Permethrin 10%, use it for effective and economical coverage. Adding an IGR (Insect Growth Regulator) to your spray or using a spray with IGR in it will extend coverage to pupae in the yard. IGRs are flea hormones that prevent the pupae from maturing and cause them to die in the cocoon. With fewer adults to process, your once-a-month topical preventative will be more effective at preventing flea issues.
Hose-end sprayers will make the yard spraying easy, but do not forget the porch, deck, and foundation area. Permethrin has a 30-day residual so repeat in October if you live in a mild winter climate.
For inside spraying, use an indoor safe product such as Cedarside™ Original Biting Insect Spray. Be sure to spray under furniture or storage items where pupae hide. The spray is easy to use, and should be done in September and October if you had flea issues this year. If your issues were minimal, one spraying is adequate.
Fleas in the Fall
If you have never done fall flea treatment, remember fleas don’t play fair. It is all about a good game plan to stay ahead of them. Fleas want to get into the winter with plenty of eggs to overwinter for next season. A little prevention now – A lot fewer fleas in the spring!
Find Cat and Dog Flea Protection
Flea and tick preventives and treatments for dogs and cats have improved immensely over the last decade. The newer products not only are more effective in flea and tick control, but are also much safer for our pets and our families. These products target chemicals in the nervous system of fleas and ticks that are not found in the nervous system of mammals. We now have topical, oral, and collar treatments, some of which are even safe for puppies, kittens, and pregnant and nursing females. Finding the best flea or tick product for your pet can be overwhelming. Let Revival help! The Revival Flea & Tick Finder is an easy way to find the right flea and tick preventative for your cat or dog.
If you need help additional flea control help, call us at 800.786.4751.
Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services.
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Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.