15 August 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Rentokil is advising homeowners to be on the lookout for signs of flea infestation in their homes after a 77% surge in residential flea inquiries for May, June and July 2018, compared to the same period last year.
Cork ranked second for flea related call-outs at 18%, closely followed by Wexford at 13%. Dublin homeowners were the most affected, with 39% of requests for assistance in dealing with flea infestations from the capital.
The wingless bloodsuckers thrive in humid conditions and Ireland’s warm and dry summer has provided ideal breeding conditions for pesky fleas. Fleas typically live outdoors but attach to pets or people. In particular those who have come into contact with wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, rodents or deer, and fleas are then carried into homes by the host.
The most common indication of a flea issue is a bite or skin irritation. Fleas most often bite people around the ankles and legs. The bites are felt immediately and can be sore for as much as a week. Fleas can also cause allergic reactions to sensitive individuals, transmit tapeworm and, in very rare cases, even transmit serious diseases.
It can be incredibly hard to detect fleas as they are barely visible to the naked eye and they hide deep in the fibres of carpets and furniture. When active, a small flea problem can escalate very quickly as they breed rapidly.
The top five counties experiencing flea infestations:
*Other Counties: 12%
Dr. Colm Moore, Area Technical Manager of Rentokil said “The favourable weather conditions this summer have provided fleas with the ideal conditions to thrive and breed. It’s incredibly difficult to identify the presence of fleas in the home. If the infestation came from a pet, it’s important to treat not only the animal but also the house in order to fully address the problem and prevent reoccurrence. ”
“Fleas found on the host typically only represent just 5% of the total flea population nearby. The other 95% will be in bedding, carpets and furniture. Compounding the problem, they can lay dormant and undetected for months or even a year before hatching and attaching to a host. Preventative measures can be taken to minimise the risk of a flea infestation.” Dr. Colm Moore added.
Rentokil’s Top tips for preventing a flea infestation in the home
- Regularly wash and check pets for fleas with a flea comb to catch a potential problem early and prevent fleas from becoming established in carpets and bedding
- Wash pet bedding weekly, ideally at temperatures above 50 degrees to kill any dormant fleas and eggs
- Vacuum floors and furniture regularly – ensuring to cover hard to reach places as fleas like to hide in cracks in floorboards and crevices
- Shake out or beat rugs and pet bedding outdoors so fleas and eggs fall off
- Consider placing pet beds in areas without carpets such as on wooden floors (but ONLY if these are well sealed – if there are gaps between the boards this may actually make the pest much harder to treat)
- If moving into a new home inspect carpets and flooring carefully for signs of eggs or ‘flea dirt’. If the previous owners had pets the flea larvae might be waiting for you.