There are various different species of fleas, which feed on various mammals and birds, and all are of similar appearance. The most common fleas to be found in houses and offices are cat fleas and dog fleas. Adult fleas are approx. 2 to 5mm long and are flat (side to side), the opposite way to bedbugs. Fleas have long legs that enable them to jump vertically to heights of 10 to 18 inches. Fleas vary in colour from dark grey through to dark mahogany brown.
Persistent attacks can result in a build-up of tolerance to the infestation, and there are many examples of families moving around housing estates, taking fleas with them, but being unaware that they are transporting fleas around. On the other hand their new neighbours may soon become aware of the presence of fleas, resulting in significant irritation and loss of sleep. Fleas are still very much disliked because of the bites they inflict, and the deep-rooted social stigma attached to humans with flea infestations. Many flea species are known to be carriers of disease the most infamous is the plague.
The irritation seems to be a reaction to the saliva injected into the host’s skin to prevent the blood clotting during feeding. The larvae of the flea are not in contact with humans at all, feeding as they do in the dust and debris on the floor or on the bedding. When larvae hatch, the adult flea will remain dormant until stimulated by the vibration of a potential host. This dormant stage can be for a considerable amount of time.
Treatment with professional insecticides both powder & liquids are recommended. Where heavy infestations are present a follow up visit within 30 days may often be required.
Bed Bugs are approx. 5mm long, mahogany brown in colour and are flattened from top to bottom. After feeding, the body swells and becomes reddened. The young stages of the bedbug are very similar to the adults, but are paler in colour. Bedbugs are blood feeders, and have a sharpened proboscis (mouthparts) to enable them to take a blood meal from their host. Bedbugs will take up to seven times their own body weight in blood at any one time. Bedbugs cannot fly so have to crawl around, sometimes being transported into buildings on clothing, luggage and furniture. The bedbugs’ ability to go without food for many months and being a very hardy insect has enabled them to survive and spread in such a way.
Bedbugs are not regarded as disease carriers, but their blood feeding can cause severe irritation in some people, resulting in loss of sleep, lack of energy, particularly in children. The bite often gives rise to a hard, whitish swelling which distinguishes it from the fleabite, which is a dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area. Some individuals have even been known to gain immunity from bed bug bites. Added to this is the distaste and social stigma attached with bed bugs. The very thought of being preyed upon by such insects is quite sufficient to make most people take immediate action against them. They are often associated with un-cleanliness, but bedbugs are not fussy, and will just as readily feed off clean skin. Bedbugs have even been known to create slum-housing areas by driving away householders with reasonable standards of hygiene, leaving behind those who are less concerned with such matters.
Not an easy pest to deal with at times as they can become resistant to even the best insecticides and a very thorough approach needs to be taken by both the pest controller and home owner.
All clothes and soft furnishings should be hot washed where possible or placed in bags then put in a large freezer for around 48 hours where possible. Freezing kills the insect where hot washing isn’t an option. Everything else will need spraying by the pest controller.
Don’t use cheap single active insecticides.