ALERT: Flea infestations could increase in Irish homes this winter
Rentokil, Ireland’s leading pest control provider, is advising home and business owners to be on the lookout for signs of flea infestations this winter period. Fleas typically move indoors at this time of year to escape the cold weather.
In 2021, Wexford accounted for the highest number of flea callouts, making up 12% of total callouts. Dublin (10% of flea callouts), Galway (8%), Cork (7%) and Kildare (6%) also accounted for a high level of flea callouts in 2021.
The wingless bloodsucking insects can attach to pets or people. In particular, those who have come into contact with wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, rodents or deer, are at risk of carrying the insects indoors as a 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.
Richard Faulkner, Advanced Technical Field Consultant with Rentokil, said “The cold weather conditions this winter will likely encourage fleas to come indoors in search of warmth and sustenance. It’s incredibly difficult to identify the presence of fleas. If a flea 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 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.”
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)
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