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Adult Fleas are between 2-3 mm long, usually dark reddish-brown in colour.
Flea eggs look like translucent oval dots and are approximately 0.5 mm long.
The larval stage collect “flea dirt” over its body to feed on which gives them a dark reddish-brown to black appearance. The larvae form a worm like appearance approximately 3 mm in length.
Once the larvae have consumed a sufficient quantity of nutrients it will spin a silk like web around itself to form a cocoon. The cocoon is sticky and tends to collect dust and dirt which makes them harder to recognise in the environment.
Distribution and host range
Fleas are wide spread across New Zealand. Flea species are specific to a type of mammal (dog, cat, human), however, they can bite other species.
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms you or your pet have fleas include:
Life history and habits
Flea larvae emerge from eggs within 1 to 10 days depending on the environmental conditions, it is possible for eggs to remain dormant for much longer. A single adult female can lay about 40 eggs every day.
The larval stage lasts 5 to 11 days. During this period the larvae feeds pre-digested blood known as “flea dirt” that the adult fleas pass along with other organic materials in the environment. Once sufficient nutrients have been consumed the larvae will spin a cocoon and enter the pupation stage. Flea larvae and pupa are prone to falling off pets and left to develop in gardens, lawns or in our homes.
The pupa stage can last for several days to months depending upon the environmental conditions. An adult flea will emerge when the presence of a potential host is made obvious by vibrations, rising levels of carbon dioxide or body heat. Once emerged the adult flea will need to begin feeding from a host within a few hours and will begin laying eggs within a few days.
Beneficial Nematodes can be applied to grassed areas and gardens to reduce flea larvae and pupa populations to reduce the chance of your pets picking up these unwanted hitchhikers whilst playing outside.
Steinernema carpocapsae or Nemastar® when applied to outdoor areas will begin their search for flea larvae and pupa immediately. Once a nematode has found a flea larvae or pupa it will crawl inside and release bacteria which will result in the host’s death within 48 hours.
A standard packet of Nemastar® 50 million nematodes can treat an area of 300 m2 for curative effect or can be used on up to 3,000 m2 for a preventative treatment.
The best part about using beneficial nematodes for flea control is they are completely harmless to pets, humans or plants.
A range of insecticides are claimed to be effective against Fleas. Flea shampoos can be used to kill the adults on pets. For information on topical treatments to your pets please contact your local veterinarian.
If you are uncertain about the identity of any pest in your crop, or need advice on the management of pests contact BioForce Ltd, firstname.lastname@example.org .