Flea dirt is the waste left behind from a flea's blood meal. Some people call them "flea faeces", or "flea poop", but whatever your preference, they are usually dark to light brown in colour and pellet-like in shape (see picture). This waste can be found on almost any surface that your pet comes near to including carpet, bedding, flooring, furniture etc. It can also be found on anything your pet sleeps with or touches such as blankets, rugs and cuddling buddies (your pillows too!)
After feeding on an animal host (typically cats) for about 36 hours, the adult female will produce anywhere between 50 - 400 eggs! These eggs are very sticky and can stick just about anywhere. They are usually seen around places that your pet visits frequently such as in the cracks of flooring, under furniture and even along baseboards etc. The eggs will hatch after 1-2 weeks depending on environmental factors (humidity levels for example).
The newly hatched larvae will start to feed immediately and once fully grown, they will leave the egg casings behind which you may find in various areas of your home. During this stage, they will travel several metres away from their host animal before finding a place to build a cocoon around themselves where they can safely transform into an adult female flea within 7 days. Typically, this is done when there's no host available to feed upon i.e. between hosts or when a host is not bringing blood meals frequently enough.
Once the cocoon has been formed, the larvae pupate and are then ready to become an adult flea in as little as 3 days time! Once fully grown it will emerge from the cocoon and wait patiently for a potential host to come along. Adult fleas are very mobile which helps them find their way onto potential hosts such as yourself or your pets at home. This can occur through contact, however, they usually jump on their prey from nearby areas such as carpets, upholstery and even within vegetation so be careful where you let Fido roam around off-leash!
Where Should You Look for Flea Dirt?
There isn't anyone place that you should be looking to check for flea dirt. The obvious places are around the flooring of your house, pet bedding etc but if you look closely enough then you can find it just about anywhere! Some people have even found it on cello tape after wrapping a present with a piece that had previously been covered in flea dirt by their pets!
A Few More Flea Dirt Facts:
* A single female adult flea can produce up to 400 eggs over a 2 week period. That's a lot of eggs!
* Adult female fleas will begin producing eggs 3 days after taking their first blood meal from an animal host. This is when they really need our help as those tiny flea eggs can lead to a very heavy flea infestation in your home.
Why is Flea Dirt a Problem?
Flea dirt is often seen as a sign of a problem, and it usually is. However, sometimes you may find that the only evidence of a flea infestation in your home is the presence of flea dirt. This could be because your pet has been treated by a veterinarian with products such as Capstar or Advantage which will kill adult fleas before they have a chance to lay eggs.
Related articles: What Is the Best Flea Treatment for Dogs?
However, this doesn't mean that the infestation is gone and your pet still needs to be treated. It also doesn't mean flea dirt is of no concern if you find it in places other than your pet's bedding or areas where they play. Flea dirt can attract other pets to eat it out of curiosity; some will even taste it (gross I know) but ingesting a small amount won't cause any harm.
Signs of an Infestation:
Although finding just one flea on your pet could lead you to believe that there isn't an infestation problem, think again! The most commonplace for people to find just one or two fleas on their animals is around the head and neck area because these are also the most common places to be scratched, with the fleas being found on your pet's face.
If there are just a few fleas then treat with a product that kills adult fleas, if you have a bad infestation then try a product that is stronger and safe for pets such as Advantage or Frontline (these can also be used as prevention). Just remember that it will take at least 3 weeks before you see any results since female adults start laying their eggs after 3 days of taking their first blood meal from an animal host. This means they may lay some eggs around your house even if there aren't many on your pet!
How Can You Get Rid of Flea Dirt?
Flea dirt can be removed from infested areas using a piece of sticky tape in order to trap the eggs. Once removed take a damp cloth and wipe the area clean in order to kill any eggs that may not have been caught by the tape.
What Will Kill Flea Dirt?
* Flea Shampoo - these products are available over the counter at most pet stores and supermarkets. They often come in liquid form and should be used according to package directions for best results.
* Vinegar - white vinegar is acidic which will help kill almost all fleas on contact, remember you need to get it wet so spray it down! Some people think adding apple cider vinegar works better but this isn't really true since both types of vinegar have the same acidic strength. However, since vinegar is more natural than some other flea killing products it may be a good choice for those who prefer to use all-natural products whenever possible.
* Boric Acid - Since boric acid has been used as an insecticide for decades and kills by dehydrating the insects after ingestion, it makes a great addition to your arsenal of natural flea killers!
* Salt - Another household product that works best when wet (saltwater), salt gives pests such as immature fleas and ticks an osmotic effect which causes water loss leading to dehydration and death.
* Diatomaceous Earth (DE) - This is not actually salt but instead tiny pieces of fossilized diatoms, one-celled algae which are not only safe for pets but also kill by dehydrating pests that come into contact with it rather than poisoning them.
* Insect Growth Regulators (IGR's) - These products work by preventing immature stages of an insect from developing into adults. By stopping the growth of flea larvae they eventually die. The most common IGR used in home remedies is Nylar. This product has been around since 1991 and continues to be used today as part of pest management programs at zoos, pet stores, catteries, kennels and even on wild animal rehabilitation facilities throughout the United States!
What's the Best Flea Medicine for Dogs?
* Frontline - This is the number one selling OTC product in the world for killing adult fleas on dogs and cats! It uses fipronil as its main ingredient which not only kills adults but also breaks the life cycle by killing eggs and larvae, thus breaking the flea's reproductive system.
* Advantage - The active ingredient in this product (imidacloprid) makes it effective against both adult fleas and ticks by causing paralysis of insects' nervous systems. This effect takes place within 30 minutes of application to an animal's skin which means that pets will be protected from these bloodsuckers almost immediately after treatment.
* Advantix - Another product works fast; Advantix uses imidacloprid to kill adult fleas and ticks while using permethrins to kill not only lice but also the eggs and larvae.
* Capstar - This is a pill used in the safety of your home to quickly reduce an infestation by killing up to 95% of adult fleas within 4 hours!
* Trifexis, Comfortis and Vectra 3D - All three products work slowly enough so that they will continue working even after your pet goes for a swim or gets wet!
What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas on a Dog?
* Vacuum - The first step is to vacuum the house and yard thoroughly in order to suck up as many eggs, larvae and adults as you can. Be sure to throw out the bag or empty and clean your canister so that there will be no chance of any offspring hatching inside it!
* Clean Carpets - To kill off any remaining eggs and larva, you need to shampoo your carpet. Add a few ounces of white vinegar during the rinse cycle for best results since the acidity helps kill these pests by making them lose water as they sit on damp surfaces such as carpets.
* Treat Your Pet - Pets should be treated with something like Frontline Plus which contains fipronil along with other ingredients that break the cycle by killing eggs, larvae and adults.
* Vacuum Again - After 24 hours repeat the above procedure but this time also does a second treatment of your pet with Frontline Plus to make sure you get all the newly hatched adult fleas.
What Are Some Natural Flea Killers?
* Dish Soap - Add 1 tsp to an empty spray bottle then fill the rest with water! Shake well before each use then spray on pets thoroughly until their coats are damp. Pet's should be bathed first in order to allow soap to penetrate their thick fur coats which means more ticks and fleas will drown!
* Salt Water - Mix salt into lukewarm water until it is dissolved then brush it into your pet's coat to kill any adult fleas or ticks that come into contact with it.
* Hydrogen Peroxide - Use this as a dip by mixing 2 tbsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide for every cup of water! Be sure to wear protective gloves and eye ware since this solution is stronger than the one you use to bleach your hair at home. Its use as a flea killer is limited to certain dogs such as Shih Tzus, Maltese, Poodles and Bichon Frise but cats are not affected so be aware before using it on these furry family members!
What Can I Do About Fleas in My Yard?
* Nematodes - These products contain viruses that are harmful to only insects. They infect flea larvae with these diseases which eventually kill them before they become adults!
* Beneficial Nematodes (Steinernema carpocapsae) - These nematodes attack pests like Armyworms, Cutworms, Grubs, Mole Crickets and Maggots as well as Fleas! When applied to the soil they do the job naturally but never show any harmful side effects to plants or other animals including pets so it's an all-around safe solution for your yard.
Flea dirt is a brownish-black substance that accumulates on the skin, hair and nails. When fleas are biting an animal they ingest blood which causes their rectum to become distended with faeces. This can cause them to release some of this matter onto the pet’s fur, creating what is known as “flea dirt” or faecal droplets (also called “flecks”). If you find your dog has had too many bites from these pesky pests it may be time for treatment
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