Understanding the life cycle of the flea will help people understand the importance of the follow-up treatments for effective, long-term flea control. The life span of fleas is strongly influenced by environmental factors such as heat and humidity. The full cycle can take as little as three weeks or as long as two years. Fleas prefer temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees and their optimal humidity level is between 70 to 85 percent.Given these conditions fleas have been known to live as long as a year without eating. The norm, however, is 6 to 12 months. To start a new generation on its way, adult fleas must first find a suitable host. Their tiny eyes do not see well and they don't have a nose as we think of one. Instead, fleas use their antennae and bristles to locate their hosts by odour, body temperature and low levels of exhaled carbon dioxide. Changes in light or shadow and air currents may also stimulate activity.
Once the flea has had it's blood meal, it is ready to breed. The female lays approximately 5 to 20 eggs at a time, taking time out for blood meals. Eggs may be laid off or on the host, but even those deposited on the host usually fall off. Each female has the capacity to lay several hundred eggs over her lifetime. In a week to ten days the eggs will hatch into maggot-like larvae. during the next two to three weeks, the larvae move about by they use of anal struts. They feed on the faeces of adult fleas, or on organic material on the ground, mites such as dust mites in carpets - and possibly even on injured fleas.
The larval stage can hold over as long as six months waiting for more optimum living conditions. They will pass through three larval stages before forming a cocoon, which starts the pupal phase. The pupal stage seems to be the most resistant and can hold over for as long as a year. Vibrations caused by animals or people walking nearby cause the adult flea to hatch from its cocoon and the cycle is repeated.
The Tapeworm Connection
Although most people know that fleas give dogs and cats tapeworms, few understand the process by which this happens. The small, white, wiggly flat sections sometimes seeen in a pet's faecal matter or on the hairs around the anus are only segments of the tapeworm. Actually, those flat segments are full of eggs. Flea larvae feed on those eggs from faeces of infected dogs and cats. They might also find dried egg segments in your lawn or carpets. The eggs develop into larvae inside the flea. After being swallowed by your pet, the fleas body is digested by the gastric juices in the pet's stomach. The tapeworm larvae is now able to hatch and attach itself to the intestinal wall of the host, thus starting the cycle all over again. Unless killed by medication, the tapeworm will continue to cast off egg segments. Even if you haven't see nay signs of tapeworm in your pet, ii is a good idea to take stool samples to your vet every three months or so. Only a teaspoonful is needed for the test, but the faecal matter should be fresh. medication comes in a pill and works within 24 hours. You do not need to withold food or water.