Fleas are probably the most common and vexing pest problem for most pet owners. These tiny ectoparasites bite to feed on blood from our pets but will bite us as well. Flea bites result in itchy lesions, secondary infections and even the transmission of internal parasites and diseases. Homes can be quickly infested, seemingly over night, and once this happens getting rid of a flea problem can be all-consuming.
While modern flea medications like Frontline (tm) do a excellent job of controlling biting fleas that are on pets, what about flea eggs? Where do fleas lay their eggs and how can these eggs be killed at the same time as the adult, biting fleas?
Eggs are laid in the animal's nest
Like most other insects fleas have several distinct stages in their development, namely eggs, larvae, and adults. For fleas in particular the only stage that bites is the adult flea. Most of a female flea's eggs are laid in the host animal's nest. In the case of indoor pets this "nest" can be anything from a specific pet bed to a favorite chair or rug to, unfortunately, our own bed depending on where the pet spends time.
After a short incubation period eggs hatch into worm-like flea larvae that also live in the nest feeding on dried blood and feces from the adult. Then, after a period of development, flea larvae pupate and eventually emerge as adults ready to find their first meal of blood. Adult fleas spend most of their time in the host animal's fur feeding but occasionally return to the nest as well.
Because both flea eggs and flea larvae live in the animal's nest, the nest should be treated at the same time as any treatment for the adult, biting fleas. Treatments for flea eggs and larvae usually involve a type of insecticide called an insect growth regulator, or IGR. IGRs are very safe, effective and long-lasting so they are a perfect compliment to topically-applied flea medications.
We've posted a series of articles about fleas and flea control at our 'Bugs site. The first article is about flea identification and life cycle and there are links to more detailed flea control suggestions including how to use IGRs to stop larvae from developing into adult fleas.