ROSEMONT, Ill.—April 22, 2022—In this edition of Straight Talk! with Jeff Cross, Jennifer Gordon, an urban and medical entomologist with Bug Lessons Consulting, tells us all about fleas: what they eat, how they infest structures, how they impact public health, and what the cleaning industry can do to address them. One reason flea infestations are so stubborn is that fleas undergo complete metamorphosis, moving from an egg to a larva to a pupa to an adult flea. To eradicate fleas, you must address each stage of the flea’s development; otherwise, a new wave of adult fleas will simply emerge later on.
According to Gordon, fleas can infest a structure in numerous ways. Most often, fleas come in on pets that live in the home or on rodents that have accessed the home or building. Because fleas can jump so high, occasionally a flea may hitchhike into a building on a person. “If left untreated, flea infestations can get really bad,” said Gordon. For professional cleaners who find themselves in an environment where they are at risk of picking up fleas, Gordon advises to get to an isolated area after the job, such as a garage, then remove your clothes and seal them in plastic bags until you are able to wash and dry them. This will help prevent the fleas from traveling with you to infest your own home.
Gordon explains that “getting rid of fleas may require collaboration from a bunch of different groups of people, including homeowners/pet owners, pest management professionals, and cleaning professionals.”
- Homeowners will need to address any areas where unwanted animals or rodents are accessing the structure, treat pets for fleas, and thoroughly wash all bedding anywhere the pets sleep.
- Cleaning professionals will need to thoroughly vacuum all carpet and upholstery, moving all furniture and paying special attention to baseboards and areas where pets sleep. Hard surfaces should also be swept and cleaned, and the vacuum bags must be immediately sealed and disposed of far away from the home.
- Finally, a pest control specialist should come treat the home with appropriate pesticides to kill any remaining fleas and prevent reinfestation.
Flea infestations must be addressed because they are more than just a nuisance. Fleas impact public health in a number of ways, including by leaving itchy welts that can become infected with scratching. More rarely, fleas can also spread diseases such as plague, cause tapeworms in people and animals, and impact mental health. “Eliminating a flea infestation is best done through teamwork, and cleaning professionals can play a huge role,” said Gordon.
For professional support and help with any entomology issue, including project work, speaking and training, and more, visit the Bug Lessons website: https://www.buglessons.com.
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