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The flea life cycle, lets review this again…

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May 9, 2012 by Linda Ford

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 “That frontline stuff doesn’t work anymore.”

You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that statement. But, after extensive interrogation of the person telling me this, light is shed and we proceed to have the whole flea life cycle discussion.

Studies are being conducted continuously on Frontline and many other reputable flea products on the market. I can only speak for the products I carry but so far, there has been no evidence that Frontline is not working.

While it is true that many bugs, bacteria, viruses etc. mutate or somehow become adapted to living with the thing that was designed to destroy them, so far, it is not the case with the newer flea and tick products. The newer products are designed to attack the nervous system of the insect and basically cause them to stop breathing which then causes their death. It’s kind of like nerve gas. So far, I don’t know of any humans or animals that have become immune to nerve gas. And yet, these products are extremely safe to use and easy on the environment. You don’t have all that dip to pour down the drain. Animals don’t like the taste of it, so they might drool if they lick it. The worst reaction I have seen to the topical flea and tick products is a local itching at the area of application. Some animals seem sensitive to it and will scratch the area with a foot and cause hair loss.

Now, as to the whole flea life cycle discussion, you really do have to put the stuff on the animal in the right dosage EVERY PET- EVERY MONTH. There are four stages to the flea life cycle and the culprit you see on the pet is representative of only 5% of the total population. That means 95% of the population of fleas is unseen by you. I hear “well, he only has a few fleas.” OK, say a few fleas are 6. That means you actually have 120 fleas. So, if you see 120 fleas, you would think that was a lot, right?

Stages: 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, 5% what you see (the adult blood sucker).

The blood sucker sucks blood, poops (the black flea dirt) and lays thousands of eggs. The dog scratches itself because it itches when the blood sucker sucks blood and poops. That causes the eggs to fall off into the carpet, the sofa cracks, the bed, the space under the porch, the dog house or where ever he is when he stops to scratch.

The eggs hang around in the bedding for 10 days or so and then turn into larvae or a better word for this stage is MAGGOT because that is what they look like. But they are small so you don’t see them. The maggots feed on flea poop and dog and cat dander and hang around for another12 days or so. That makes them sleepy so they curl up into a nice pupa or cocoon. Each flea has its own cocoon.

The pupa (cocoon) stage is the tricky part. NOTHING kills it, except maybe fire. I have heard people threaten to burn their house down. That would do it. The other thing about the pupa is they hatch in response to motion, like the pitter patter of doggy feet. So, if nothing comes along they just remain dormant in their cocoons. They can stay there for up to 365 days. *  That’s a year folks. Have you ever gone on vacation for a week or two and come home and have a sudden attack of very hungry fleas?

When you have a sudden outbreak of hatching, hungry fleas, the first thing I would do is use a pesticide spray on the animals and another treatment for the house. Most of the spot on products can be used in conjunction with a spray but read the label just to be sure. Most modern sprays are safe enough to use once or twice weekly (but read the label to be sure) until you get the problem back under control. When you apply the spot on product, write the date down on a calendar so you can remind yourself to do it again next month and the next and the next even through the winter. If you do all of that and you still have fleas it may be time to move.

*Merial Frontline pamphlet

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