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Fleas - (Cat Fleas, Dog Fleas)
Fleas – (Cat Fleas,  Dog Fleas)

Fleas – (Cat Fleas, Dog Fleas)


  • Color: adults: black to reddish brown; larvae: dirty-white.
  • Size: adults: 1/8-inch long; larvae: 1/4-inch long.
  • Wingless, laterally flattened with piercing-sucking mouthparts.
  • Very well developed legs which allows them to jump at least six inches straight up. Their bodies are covered with backward-projecting spines that help them move between the hairs on the host animal.
  • A row of very heavy spines on the front of the head (genal comb) and the back part of the first body segment (pronotal comb).
  • Larvae look much like fly maggots except for their well-developed head and a pair of hook-like appendages on the last abdominal segment.

Habits of Fleas:

  • Fleas undergo complete metamorphosis (i.e., egg/larva/pupa/adult).
  • After a blood meal, females lay four to eight eggs (400 to 800 total) on the host animal or in its bedding.
  • The eggs fall into the nest or bedding of the host animal or wherever the animal happens to be at that particular time.
  • Eggs hatch and developing larvae feed on the adult flea feces which contain bits of dried blood.
  • When mature, the larvae spin silken cocoons in which they pupate; this pupal stage lasts up to 20 weeks.
  • Adult cat fleas often stay within the cocoon until vibrations stimulate them to emerge.
  • Developmental time (egg to adult): 16 days to 20 months.
  • Cat and dog fleas readily feed on other animals, e.g., raccoons, opossums, rats, and humans.
  • Adult fleas remain on the animal throughout their lives but occasionally are knocked off the animal by scratching; they also can be found in pet bedding and resting areas.

Damage From Fleas:

  • Bites can cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals.
  • Transmit murine typhus.

Look for:

  • Adult fleas on indoor cats and dogs.
  • Flea excreta (i.e., black droppings near the skin) on pets.

Fleas - Dog

How to Control and Kill Fleas:

  • The house should be thoroughly vacuumed in order to remove larvae, pupae, and food materials and the bag immediately sealed and discarded.
  • Pet bedding should be discarded or washed in hot soapy water.
  • The pet should be treated by a veterinarian, pet groomer, or the owner on the same day that the house is treated. Numerous products are available for on-animal flea control, e.g., pills containing an insect growth regulator, spot-on adulticides, flea collars, on-animal insect growth regulators, soaps, dips, etc.
  • Regardless of the treatment, adult fleas must be eliminated from the animal in order for treatment to be effective.

Innovative Pest Management serves the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland area. Call us at (240) 755-0077 to schedule a free quote or appointment.