Fleas are invasive pests found throughout the United States. They live for 100 days and during that time each flea lays hundreds of eggs, which is why just a few fleas introduced to an area can quickly become a full blown infestation if left unchecked. In addition to the itchy discomfort of flea bites, fleas can transmit the plague, cat scratch disease, tapeworms, flea allergy dermatitis and haemobartonellosis (a parasitic blood infection that affects cats). While illnesses transmitted to humans by fleas are rarely fatal, it’s a good idea to call for professional help to rid your home of these pests as quickly as possible.
Unlike bed bugs, which are active mostly at night, fleas are active at all times. They are attracted to the color white, so you can lay a white towel or sheet on the floor and leave the room for a while to see if they congregate on the white material.
If a home is infested, professional groomers or vets can help dogs and cats with flea treatments. Exterminators and veterinarians both can provide advice for ensuring that the fleas don’t return to the home. A vet may also suggest methods to repel fleas, such as powders, sprays and topical or oral medication, which will add to the total cost of flea control.
The larger the home, the more it costs to have an exterminator apply flea-killing solutions or desiccants throughout the dwelling to exterminate fleas in their various stages of life. Luis Hernandez of Hernandez Pest Control in Brooklyn, New York, advises clients to stay out of the house for at least two hours after the chemicals have been applied.
Hernandez Pest Control charges $150–$175 to treat a 1,000-square-foot dwelling for fleas. In other regions or if the home is larger, the cost can be as much as $450 to have fleas exterminated.
Hernandez Pest Control charges $125 to inspect a home for an insect infestation. This fee is then deducted from the extermination fee if services are required.
Exterminators often use a desiccant to kill eggs by drying them out. A desiccant combined with any solution that contains boric acid works on larvae and adult fleas by disrupting their digestion. Adult fleas are easiest to spot because they are very active. Eggs, larvae and pupae do not stick to the hairs of their hosts and so tend to fall off into pet beds, carpet and upholstered furniture. Most exterminators recommend thorough vacuuming of carpets and furniture and washing of pet beds as part of the extermination process. Some exterminators can do the vacuuming, but the overall cost of service will be higher. As with other indoor insect extermination, furniture must be moved several inches away from the walls before the exterminator arrives.
Fleas have four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The entire flea life cycle varies widely, depending on the environment and availability of mammalian or avian hosts. The flea life cycle can be as short as two weeks or as long as two years, which is why follow-up visits from the exterminator may be necessary. It all depends on the life cycle phase that the fleas are in when the home is first treated, as well as the extent of the infestation. Some exterminators charge a separate fee for follow-up visits, and some may offer follow-up visits as part of the initial extermination process.
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