Un­usu­ally mild win­ter and warm weather cre­ates per­fect breed­ing ground for fleas

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

AN

Warm tem­per­a­tures and high hu­mid­ity rates at the start of the sum­mer, fol­low­ing one of the mildest win­ters on record, have cre­ated a per­fect breed­ing ground for par­a­sites.

That’s the mes­sage from the lead­ers of BA­SIS PROMPT, a qual­ity as­sur­ance reg­is­ter for the pest con­trol in­dus­try.

They pre­dicted that in­fes­ta­tions this sum­mer could be on a much larger scale than in pre­vi­ous years, adding that homes with pets are most at risk.

Nigel Binns, of BA­SIS PROMPT, said: “The ac­tiv­ity and be­hav­iour of fleas is of­ten very much de­pen­dent on the cli­mate.

“Mild tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the win­ter means fewer than usual will have been killed off. As they thrive in a warm and hu­mid en­vi­ron­ment, they are likely to be present in greater num­bers than usual.

“The pop­u­la­tion of fleas seems to have grown rapidly in re­cent years but the risk of an in­fes­ta­tion could be big­ger than ever this sum­mer.”

Fleas are typ­i­cally car­ried into homes by cats and dogs, from en­coun­ters with other cats and dogs or con­tact with wildlife such as ro­dents, foxes or rab­bits.

Fleas can thrive on pets or be trans­ferred to so­fas, bed­ding, car­pets or rugs. They of­ten breed at an alarm­ing rate too.

The fe­male flea can lay 40 to 50 eggs per day and up to around 1,000 in a life­time. Eggs can hatch in days in warm and hu­mid con­di­tions. Adult fleas, usu­ally only 2mm long, can live for sev­eral months if undis­turbed.

Pets that are con­stantly scratch­ing can pro­vide the first sign of an in­fes­ta­tion. That can be con­firmed in cats or dogs with light- coloured coats by brush­ing back their hair and find­ing ei­ther fleas or drop­pings.

Dark- coated breeds should be combed over a light coloured sheet or towel to high­light any fleas or their drop­pings as they fall.

Pets with fleas could suf­fer an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion, con­tract a range of dis­eases or even be in­fected with tape­worm if not treated un­der the ad­vice of a vet.

Bed­ding, so­fas, fur­ni­ture, floors and skirt­ing boards should also be cleaned thor­oughly to pre­vent mem­bers of the fam­ily suf­fer­ing bites which leave red, itchy spots.

“Fleas found on pets are usu­ally only a small part of a big­ger is­sue, as the vast ma­jor­ity of any flea in­fes­ta­tion is prob­a­bly liv­ing in the house,” Mr Binns said. “If you have fleas in your home, you may see them jump­ing on your car­pet or fur­ni­ture.

“Any­one treat­ing a pet must be sure to treat their home thor­oughly at the same time or the prob­lem is highly likely to re­turn.”

Pre­cau­tions against fleas in­clud­ing ap­ply­ing ap­proved prod­ucts to pets on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and mak­ing sure car­pets used by pets are vac­u­umed fre­quently.

Bed­ding, blan­kets and other items should be reg­u­larly washed in the hottest wa­ter pos­si­ble. It also helps if gar­dens are kept neat and tidy.

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