Common Facts About Fleas

The most common flea to come across is the cat flea and although named the cat flea they will readily bite dogs and humans too. A flea infestation can be quick to take hold and difficult to get rid of because they are so quick to multiply.
Fleas lay their eggs mostly in soft furnishings, pet bedding, carpets and furniture, a flea egg can lay dormant for many months so just because you don’t have a pet doesn’t mean that you can’t get a flea infestation. 

Signs that you might have a flea problem in your home.

  • Your pet is scratching or riffing more than usual, which can be a good first clue that something might be lurking on their coat even if you have treated them with a flea treatment do not discount this.
  • You might notice tiny little things “jump” from soft furnishings or furniture. 
  • Bites on your legs and around your feet, though this is not a guarantee of fleas as sometimes you can be bitten on your upper body if you have been holding your pet.

Flea infestations can exist at any time throughout the year because we have centrally heated homes, however, they are far more comfortable in the heat so during the summer infestations can quickly grow and become a problem. 

When it comes to any insect infestation, correct identification is essential to gaining control and carrying out treatment, if you are in any doubt always ask for our opinion when it comes to pest control. 

They are very small in size, only about 3mm so can be tricky to see. An adult can lay up to 50 eggs per day!

Facts about fleas

  • They can jump significantly far compared to their size, around a hundred times the length of their body.  This allows them to move between hosts as they are unable to fly.
  • They have claws at the end of their legs allowing them to hold on to our pets without being knocked or scratched off. 
  • They have hard shells enabling them to remain protected from attempts to be displaced from a host.
  • Fleas have six legs but the two back legs are a distinguishing feature often visible.

Are there any ways to prevent a flea infestation?

  • As mentioned just because you haven’t got a pet doesn’t mean you can’t have a flea infestation, dormant eggs can be transferred on clothing and furniture, or even be in a house before you move in, “waking up” when they hear the vibrations of sounds we make.
  • Vacuuming regularly all carpets, pet bedding, soft furnishings can be a good way to clean up any unhatched eggs that may have simply been transferred before hatching. 
  • Washing all soft furnishings and pet bedding regularly can be a good preventative tool.
  • Keeping your pet up to date with any flea treatments your vet recommends. 
  • Checking your pet’s coat regularly for any signs of eggs or fleas.

What to expect from a treatment?

  • It is a good idea to thoroughly vacuum the house on the day of treatment, remember to place the contents of the vacuum directly into a bin and leave the vacuum to be treated along with the rest of the house.
  • Wash all pet bedding and any soft furnishings you think might have been in contact with them.
  • A residual insecticide is a good option for treatment, a wet residual spray around the house. If you have pets they will need to be excluded for the duration until it’s dry. 

What is the most common pest?

At AMS Pest Control, we consider Rats and Mice are probably the most common pest we get phone calls about and although we think they are easy to recognise it can be tricky to differentiate the two, from a distance, especially if you panic!

Neither one is an appealing prospect to take up residence in your home as a pest, they can cause significant damage, spread disease and often an unpleasant smell.

The Brown Rat and the House Mouse are the most likely types of each species you will come into contact with, this is because they are commensal rodents, they live with or in close proximity to humans.

The saying of you are never more than six feet from a rat might not be entirely accurate but we do see plenty of them and given the right environment, their numbers can quickly multiply leaving you with a problem that requires a professional approach.
When it comes to professional rodent control it is important to carry out correct identification as to the species of rodent, the likely entry points to the building or harbourage and the reason they are there if you are going to be successful in gaining control. There are other factors to consider for example non-target species in the area, pets and also children living in the residence.

There are signs to spot when establishing if you might have a rodent issue. Droppings are the most common sign people spot, droppings are often found under the sink, alongside skirting, across loft spaces, or under decking in the garden. A strong odour can be a telltale sign, mice urinate frequently in order to mark their territory, not only an unpleasant thought but a big contributor to their disease spreading ability. Rats often come into contact with the sewer systems, along with their unfussy food habits is the likely cause of many rat odours.

How can we recognise the difference?

A baby rat can often be mistaken for a mouse. Mice have big eyes and ears, their tails are equal to the length of their body and have a pointed snout. Rats have small eyes and ears, a tail that is shorter than their body and a blunt snout. Unfortunately, they have such good hearing it is unlikely they will wait around for us to have a good look at them or sit still long enough to carry out an identification. Rats and mice are social animals, we often hear “there’s only one” whilst I’m certain this is wishful thinking of the homeowners.

What about non-toxic control?

With a push towards everyone being more environmentally conscious, we must consider the future of the way we operate and non-toxic pest control is an idea that is becoming discussed more and more, some countries are looking at the restriction of rodenticide. In non-professional and DIY use it can be a big problem, the CRRU works hard to promote the responsible use of rodenticides. According to the barn owl trust in 2015 94% of Barn Owls contaminated by SGAR (Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides).

Rats and mice are extremely successful animals, breeding quickly, highly adaptable to their surroundings and can often be stubborn pests to get rid of. As with all pests we highly recommend getting the advice of a professional, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or are suffering from a pest control emergency.

Pest identification

If your home or property suddenly has a pest problem it can be tricky to identify the species that are causing the issue. Whether it’s an insect infestation, rodent problem or something else it is important to carry out a correct identification before knowing how to proceed with treatment.

When it comes to rodents there are some easier ways to determine what is behind the problem. Squirrels often require larger holes in order to gain access to roof spaces, lofts and voids so any roofline items such as soffit boards, roof tiles and chimney pots often show signs of being broken or displaced. Internally squirrels will gather up or disturb the insulation in loft spaces to create a “nest”.

Rats and mice are often trickier for amateur identification as they aren’t usually seen by the resident until after the droppings and other common signs you have a rodent infestation are present. Young rats can also sometimes be misidentified as mice.

Insect identification is much more complex

Cockroaches and bed bugs are fairly easily distinguished from each other and have some characteristic traits that help to identify them. However, if you are simply showing signs of being bitten it isn’t necessarily only bed bugs. Fleas are very common and can cause bites to humans and animals, but there are other insects and even non-pest factors that can present with bites or marks on the skin.
Clothes or carpet moths are usually evident by the effect they have once the larvae feed on natural fibres around the home leaving threadbare carpets or holes in clothes.

Wasps and bees are often misidentified as one another, especially if you are attempting to carry out identification from the ground looking up at them flying in and out of a roof or chimney area of your property. It is easier for a professional to identify from a distance as they have a different flight pattern to one another. When they are at ground level it is easier to tell a bumblebee from a common wasp but if you are in any doubt be cautious as wasps and hornets can be aggressive if they feel threatened.

There is a vast number of species of insect and far too many to list individually, but treatment can vary from spiders to beetles, to mites, to ants and many more. Taking a good photograph with an object for reference of scale is a good option, collecting a sample to be sent to an entomologist is a scientific approach that can be necessary, and sometimes a pest identification survey is ideal.

Larger species identification

Moles are often easy to spot from the characteristic “hills” that they create by disturbing the earth below.

Foxes and badgers create large, obvious holes in the ground much larger than rats would make.

Though all of the above is a generic guide of some common signs for identification each species can behave differently and to accurately identify a pest it is often a good idea to ask the advice of a professional. Accurate identification can make the difference between a treatment process working or not, and whether treatment can legally be carried out or not. If you are unsure at AMS Pest Control we offer a pest identification service.

Think you might have a pest issue but not sure what it is? Get in touch and we will be happy to help.