Environmental Flea Management

Flea treatment is one of the most specialised Pest Management Activities undertaken because it involves the application of a fine mist of insecticide across all horizontal surfaces where fleas are present.

Internally, this includes many highly sensitive surfaces that must be treated, even though there’s a high chance of unacceptable damage, if not done correctly. The flea and its larvae do not discriminate when selecting a habitat, so you must ensure complete coverage for the destruction of the entire lifecycle.

Why are fleas everywhere?
Adult females find a good feeding site on the host animal and feed exclusively on the blood. She lays eggs and excretes small blood drops as food for her larvae from this secure feeding position. Anywhere the animal moves, flea eggs and food continuously drop onto the environment.

The eggs soon hatch into larvae which are a tiny caterpillar-like animal able to move freely across just about any surface in search of food. The larvae moult 3 times during growth and feed on organic matter they find readily available in the pet’s environment.

Knowledge of the lifecycle is the key to complete elimination
After they have grown through to the third instar, the larvae knit a cocoon and transform into adult fleas. This cocoon is completely impregnable, even to insecticides and protects the insect from any harm.

The fully developed adult flea remains in this protected cocoon up to the point when it emerges. This can be a considerable time period, even 12 months. The major stimuli for hatching are vibration and body temperature; both signals indicate a host is in range. The chances of getting an immediate blood meal are high.

Understanding this complete lifecycle is the key to effective control of this insect. In any infestation over 85% of the fleas will exist in either the egg or larval form so these stages must be targeted for treatment.

Starycide – triple chance eradicator
Starycide from Bayer is an insect growth regulator that controls of the immature stages of a flea’s lifecycle. It has a long persistence and very low toxicity to mammals. The active ingredient of Starycide, triflumuron, is a Chitin Synthesis inhibitor which kills juvenile insects as they moult. You get 3 chances to control the flea as they grow from each instar to the next.

Controlling fleas at this stage means that 85% of the infestation never reaches maturity. This product however has no effect on an adult as its moult phase is complete.

How do we kill the other 15% of the population?
Let’s start with the adults, which are only about 5% of a given infestation. Adulticide products such as Temprid75, Perigen defence, Tempo and Cislin25 are all excellent and kill adult fleas fast.

 

Bayer recommends…
My recommendation is to add a small drop of wetting agent to the spray to assist with adherence to the highly waxy body of an adult flea.

It’s best to apply as a fine mist and make contact with all surfaces that a pet has visited. In preparation, do a walk-through of the area and cover sensitive surfaces (e.g. televisions, highly polished furniture etc...). Exposed foodstuffs need to be put away. Cover dog’s bowls and fish tanks, turning off the air pump.

Externally, the grass should be cut short, sand areas need raking and dry areas should be pre-wetted prior to application. Animals need to be removed and should not return until the spray has dried.

When using the spray externally, I strongly recommend the use of Temprid 75 as the combination of imidacloprid and beta cyfluthrin will give you the longest residual and the most effective management of this difficult pest. The addition of Starycide will ensure control is long lived and highly efficacious.

What about eliminating the 10% at the resistant pupal stage?
No product can penetrate the protective cocoon to kill this stage. Therefore, manage the shortfall by physical modification of the environment. Pupae are stimulated to hatch by vibration and body temperature. Use these stimuli to encourage hatching in the period when chemicals are most active.

In many situations, the presence of the host is all that’s needed for stimuli but if the animal is no longer present, then, other stimuli must be created. Move slowly and methodically through the area stomping as often as possible to encourage pupae to hatch.

Once the flea emerges and contacts the active ingredient it will quickly die and the infestation is stopped in its tracks. The only thing left now is to treat the host animal.

 

Underline the importance of pet treatment to owners
Treatment of the dog or cat is not a pest management activity and no PPM products are registered for direct application to animals.

There are excellent products available for flea control on pets which should be administered by the owner. The range I use on my animals is from the Bayer Animal Health group. They are simple to apply.

Advantage containing imidacloprid is excellent and applied directly along the neck and spine of your pet. Repeat monthly to keep your animal flea-free.

Other products in the range control, not only fleas, but a large range of parasitic worms including heartworm and keep your animal in great condition. My recommendation is to use Advocate if you require this extra control of parasitic worms.

Learn more about the products to discover what suits best. Always follow the label and never exceed application volumes.

Science for a better life
The most enjoyable part of working for such an innovative, science-based organisation is that you find everything needed to solve difficult pest infestations. Research is the key to future development, so we never stop investigating new alternatives or finding new ways to look at old problems.

At Bayer it truly is Science for a Better Life.