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Historically, fleas have been very significant vectors of deadly diseases, particularly plague and typhus. Transmission of disease from rats to humans has been, and still is, of immense importance.
Irritation due the injection of saliva is very common and wounds can become infected.
Where infestations occur, frequent and multiple bites to ankles and lower legs are common.
Regular and thorough vacuuming of carpets is very important. Pay particular attention to less disturbed areas such as carpet edges and under beds and furniture.
If the presence of fleas is known:
Flea bombs are available for use inside but are not selective in their application of the pesticide. Typically the aerosol canisters eject a cloud of dust into the air and contamination of household belongings can easily occur.
Fleas are most active in the warmer months from November to March.
There are four important pest species. Identification of species if difficult and if deemed necessary may require the services of an entomologist.
The biology, habits, treatment and control measures are essentially the same and fleas certainly don’t care about the names we give them. They will happily interchange hosts; in fact the cat flea is the most likely species to attack domestic dogs.
Oriental rat flea
Fleas belong to the order Syphonaptera (pipe - without wing). They are a highly specialised group of insects with biting and sucking mouthparts in the adult stage, used for feeding on blood from their host animal.
Fleas are wingless and have laterally compressed bodies to facilitate movement through hair and fur. Evolution has equipped them instead with clawed legs for grappling and powerful hind legs for jumping onto their host.
The adult female lays its eggs, usually on its host, after each blood meal but most of the eggs fall off and can be distributed anywhere that the host travels.
Flea Larvae feed on organic material in subfloor and garden soil but also on human skin scales and any food crumbs that may accumulate in carpets etc. An interesting adaptation is the ability of flea pupa to delay their transition to adulthood for several months if no host animal is available. Vibrations from a large animal can then stimulate their final hatching within minutes of detection. It is for this reason that residents returning from holiday or tenants moving into a previously vacated property can be attacked by hundreds of fleas suddenly erupting from carpets or soil.
Address: 25 Resource Way,
Malaga, Perth WA. 6090
Postal: PO Box 1756,
Malaga, Perth WA. 6944
Fax: (08) 9443 9881