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