During the hottest months, fleas are at their peak. Not only do these pests breed rapidly, but they also pose a significant health risk to people and pets.
What Is a Flea?
Fleas are small insects that feed on the blood of mammals (including humans) and birds. Some of the common biological characteristics of fleas are:
- Flattened spines, hard bodies, and long hind legs
- Many bristles
- 1/6 – 1/12th of an inch in length
- Dark, reddish-brown in color
On average, a flea can live for two or three months. Without feeding on blood, fleas can live more than 100 days. However, fleas are becoming more resistant to heat treatment methods, which can allow them to continue breeding quickly.
Are They Dangerous?
Fleas have painful, itchy bites that can be dangerous to people and pets. Fleas that have fed on many different animals in their lifespan are more likely to carry diseases like plaque or murine typhus. They can also cause health problems for pets such as tapeworms.
Where Are They Commonly Found?
Fleas can be found anywhere in the United States but have higher populations in very humid areas with warmer temperatures. Florida is a prime region for flea populations. In the drier desert regions, the humidity levels are usually not high enough to support the life cycle of a flea. Because of this, flea risks are usually a lot lower. Fleas will live on warm-blooded animals including humans. They can also be found on shoes, blankets, or other personal items. In your backyard, fleas might inhabit moist and shady areas like under sacks of wood or even in the grass.
Fleas like to hangout in your lawn. Keeping your lawn groomed will help cut down on contact points for them to hitchhike on your pet, wild animals, or your shoes and keep them from getting into your house. Fleas are also commonly found on rodents. Removing and preventing rodents around your house will be a key preventative measure for fleas. Lastly, keeping your pet flea-free is very important for keeping them away from your home. If you have a pet and are concerned about fleas, cleaning and vacuuming often are also good measures to take.