Many homes in New Zealand fall victim to fleas, especially households with pets.

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However, even without pets, it is still possible to experience flea problems, such as if the previous residents of your home had dogs or cats. More than 2,000 flea species around the world have been discovered.

Where do fleas live?

Fleas are fairly common for those who have pets or who work closely with animals in their careers. In the home, you will most likely find them in and around pets bedding, carpets and even outdoors in sandy soil. Their laterally compressed body enables them to weave in and out of the furs, hairs or feathers of their hosts.

When are fleas active?

Fleas prefer warm and humid conditions. During these times, they move around very easily despite not being equipped with wings. Their long legs enable them to jump great distances, with most fleas being able to leap to a height of up to 18cm, or horizontally up to 33 cm. Relative to the size of their bodies, they are one of the world’s best jumpers.

What are flea bites like?

When fleas bite people, a round, red mark with a small, dark red dot in the centre appears on the skin. This usually stays for a few hours, and reactions differ from case to case. Itching is sometimes felt, while allergies can give rise to great swelling and hives. When occurring on children, flea bites can look more serious and be itchier than they are on adults due to the greater sensitivity of children’s skin. Bites are usually concentrated on the lower legs and ankles. If a flea bite turns severe or gives rise to allergic reactions, contact a doctor or see a pharmacist. You can also try the following in order to minimise redness and itchiness:

  • Wash the bitten area with a gentle antiseptic detergent or soap.
  • Put some ice over the area to calm inflammation and swelling.
  • Apply a bit of calamine lotion or other soothing concoction for relief.

Why are fleas pests?

Fleas can be extremely uncomfortable and annoying, especially for pets, and have no qualms about transferring themselves to a human host. Being fed on by fleas can affect humans and pets in the following ways:

  • They leave bite marks and also feed on human skin flakes and such.
  • Triggering allergies and skin conditions like dermatitis and mange in cats and dogs.
  • Severe flea attacks can cause pets to lose hair and become anaemic.
  • Transmitting tapeworms to cats and dogs.
  • Causing itchiness, redness and discomfort when feeding on humans.
  • Scratching flea bites on animals and people can result in secondary infections.
  • Flea saliva can trigger allergic reactions in animals and people.
  • Spreading diseases and germs like the bubonic plague, murine typhus and cat-scratch germs.

Do I need professional flea control?

Even though flea treatments have been performed on your pet, fleas are able to lie dormant for up to a year until they detect movement from a host. These creatures have a hard body with a polished appearance and a very durable exterior that is extremely resistant to pressure. This enables them to withstand scratching and other attempts by humans and animals to get rid of them. We believe the best way to rid your property of fleas is through professional pest control.

To have a flea treatment done in your home, ring your local Flick Anticimex office at 0800 710 010.