Description: adult fleas are 2-3 mm in length and generally of a shiny brown appearance. They have a thin, laterally flattened body and large hind legs, which allow them to jump onto passing hosts.
Biology: flea eggs are about 0.5 mm long, oval, pearly-white in colour and laid indiscriminately in the fur or feathers of the host or in its nest or bedding. Four to eight eggs are laid after each blood meal, and a single female may produce 800-1000 eggs during her lifetime, which may be as long as 2 years. The larvae thrive in dark, humid places such as animal bedding and carpet fluff and feed on organic debris and adult flea excrement. Cats’ bedding may support a flea population of 8000 immature and 2000 adult forms.
Control: where very high populations of fleas are present, a single application of insecticide may not be sufficient, as even a 99% kill rate can still leave sufficient survivors to form the basis of a new infestation. In such cases, additional treatments will need to be carried out until the infestation is eradicated. All floors and upholstered furniture should be vacuumed to remove animal hairs, organic debris, flea eggs and pupae. Dispose of vacuum bag in an outside bin. Any cats and dogs should be treated for fleas with an insecticide recommended for this purpose, and pet bedding should be destroyed or washed. All floor areas should then be treated with a residual insecticide or a desiccant spray from skirting board to skirting board.