The most common flea species in Sydney is the cat flea and the dog flea, also known as the sand flea. Despite their name these fleas will also feed on human blood. Fleas can become a problem in homes where there are pets or feral animals present within the vicinity. A flea outbreak can also occur after your pet has died, or when the previous tenants or owners of a property have had pets.
Fleas are small reddish brown, parasitic jumping insects that feed on blood. Their live cycle begins with adult flea laying eggs that hatch into larvae. It puppets and develop itself into an adult flea.
Flea larvae feed on adult flea faeces and other organic matter, which collects in carpets and rugs, crevices in between floorboards and sandy soil is where flea larvae will patiently wait to hatch.
Warmer months of the year and vibrations of a new host passing by are the signals for fleas to emerge from their shells as adults to start the next generation. The young fleas will look for a blood meal and the current occupants of that home are always their first target. Fleas can survive for months without food. In the larval stage, fleas have the ability to remain dormant for up to 12 months if climatic conditions are not suitable for their further development.
The flea uses a saw-like snout to cut through the skin. While feeding, their saliva is introduced into our body causing itching and allergic reactions. Usually large, swollen welts develop within 30 mins of the bite. A day or two later, the lump may develop into a small wound. A flea bite is intensely itchy, often leading to secondary infections from scratching. Fleas can also transmit diseases like tapeworm larvae and murine typhus. Historically fleas were responsible for transmitting bubonic plague (black death) throughout Europe.