Going on 8 weeks

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QuestionsCategory: Flea InfestationsGoing on 8 weeks
christine73 asked 2 months ago

Hi Adam,
I want to thank you for this site, it has provided so much helpful tips during my battle with fleas. I know that flea eradication can take up to 8 weeks sometimes even longer but I may be going paranoid and I think I need some reassurance. 
I first noticed a flea or 2 on my dog around August 9th. I gabe her some advantix 2 the same day and I sprayed the house with Vets best home spray. I left on vacation on August 11th and did not come home until a week later on August 20th. I picked my dog up from the kennel that same day. During that first week back from vacation, I noticed my dog intensely scratching and gnawing at her paws. I checked her for fleas but didn’t find any at first but she had many healing scars on her stomach and her skin was red. About a week later I found fleas on her and treated her again with advantix thinking that it didn’t work. I used flea enforcer carpet powder because years ago when she had fleas that’s what I used and it worked great. But this time there was no change. Soon I found that fleas were jumping on me! I couldn’t walk into a room without 6 or 7 jumping on me. I had so many bites on my ankles I lost count and I even had some on my arms because I would be on the carpet combing my dogs for fleas. I never had this problem before so I put my dog on Capstar and used several flea sprays for the home. I’ve used raid flea killer (which is supposed to stop fleas from hatching for up to 4 months), Adams flea and tick spray as well as the carpet powder with Nylar, and Vibrac ES knoutout spraybwith IGR. I used the vibrac back in mid September and that seemed to work the most but a about a week and a half  later the fleas can back again. But this time i would find maybe 1 or 2 every few days and my dog didn’t have as many bites and wasn’t scratching as much. I would vacuum maybe 2-3 times a week and throw out the bag each time. I also switched my dog back to Frontlinenplus because that helped in the past and I was convinced Advantix wasn’t helping.
 
So around September 23 I found 2 fleas on my dog but they werent very fast and they were easy to pick off so I had a feeling they may have been dead or on the process of dying. That same day I applied more carpet powder to my floors (Tropiclean brand) and didn’t find another flea on her until 5 days later but this flea was definitely dead. After i found that last flea she began scratching incessantly again at which point I took her to the vet and was told she has flea allergy that even though she’s not getting bit, the fleas cause her to scratch a lot.
 
on October 1st, I applied Ultracide to all the carpets in my house and have been vacuuming every other day. Until Friday, I had not had a bite in 2 weeks but suddenly I had one on my lower leg. I didn’t think anything of it because maybe it was a straggler but then again on Sunday i had a small bite on my forearm and yesterday I have 2 bites on my elbow. I seem to be the only one getting bit in my home as my dog stil has no more bites, no fleas, or flea dirt and I check her 2x a day with a flea comb. Her skin is no longer red and she no longer gnawing at her skin but she still scratches every so often but she’s always been an itchy dog and does have dry skin. I also find no flea dirt in her bedding. 
 
i sit on the carpet to flea comb her so maybe thats why I have bites on my upper body as she does not sleep on the bed and the bedding has been laundered several times. She doesn’t go outside often so I don’t think she picked them up from there. I also haven’t seen any fleas in the environment for almost 3 weeks except for on my dog those 2 times in September and now as of Monday I found 1 dead flea in her bed and one barely alive flea trying to go around. 
Mu concern is when will this fight be over? I reapplied Ultracide to the basement this morning where my dog sleeps and spends most of her time and into one of the bedrooms upstairs where o found the half dead flea. I’m tired of pouring money into these products and spraying almost every week. If my dog hasn’t had any new bites in several weeks should I assume that the fleas aren’t breeding and it’s just the remaining eggs hatching? I know that the cocooned adults aren’t affected by the sprays and that they need to hatch to die, but how long after they are in contact with the treated environment will they die. I must say the number has reduced dramatically and I am happy about that but my recent bites have sent me into a panick again. Is there anything else I should be doing? Should I buy more Ultracide to continue spraying the house? I set out plate with warm water and dawn every night (I don’t use a night light though) and in the morning there is nothing so what does that mean? I’m glad I can walk around the house without them jumping on me but I would like to stop getting bites. I have bad reactions to them so they puff up and blister. Since there has been a lot time since getting bite, should I not be worried? It’s been 8 weeks now so I was kind of hoping that I would be over this but maybe they breed a lot while I was away on vacation even though no one was in the house. Any help would be greatly appreciated! 
 
Thank you,
Christine
 
oh and I have also been giving my dog capstar everyday for maybe 3 weeks now just in case. The last pill is today so should I stop giving them to her? I’m afraid that she will get bit even though she’s on a monthly preventative 
 

christine73 replied 2 months ago

I also forgot to mention that what’s strange is that Ive been walking around barefoot, as well as the rest of my family, for almost a month now and we haven’t been getting bit on our ankles, feet or legs with the exception of the bite I got just recently on Friday. Why would they only bite my arms when I’m combing my dog on the floor for only 10 minutes max?

christine73 replied 2 months ago

Update: yesterday evening I did find one flea in the flea trap so is that something that causes for concern? I read that after treatments you can see an increase on adult flea activity because you are forcing them out of their shells early which is a good sign because they get in contact with the residual IGR and die. Is that true?

christine73 replied 2 months ago

Update 2: I found a flea on my dog this morning. It was on the top of her fur rather than crawling on her skin. She didn’t seem agitated by it and I read that Frontline makes them hyper excited drawing them to top of their fur. I didn’t find any bites on her either but I can’t tel if it looked like that flea had fed or not. I can’t believe I found one on he after retreating the house with Ultracide only 4 days ago. I also have her her Frontline yesterday so I don’t know why there was one on her. I’m scared that they are breeding on her again and I’m going to have to start the eradication process all over again. No new bites on the family though.

1 Answers
Adam Retzer Staff answered 2 months ago

Christine,

I’m sorry to hear about your flea troubles. It sounds like it was a fairly severe infestation. Luckily, from what you’ve described, the infestation is just about over. You are just dealing with the last stragglers.

With your dog treated, the adult fleas won’t be able to survive long enough to lay eggs. However, they may survive for a few hours, which is why you may find them on her. The Advantix II and Frontline Plus were probably both working equally well, but it can seem like they aren’t when the infestation doesn’t end quickly. Both products contain an adulticide to kill the adult fleas when they jump onto the dog. They also both contain an insect growth regulator (IGR), which will sterilize the females even if they somehow survived the adulticide.

You shouldn’t need to continue the Capstar if you plan on continuing the monthly flea drops. It’s a bit redundant.

You shouldn’t need to do any more environmental spraying. It sounds you’ve got that pretty well covered. The products with IGR (pyriproxyfen or methoprene) that you’ve used will last for 7 months. The IGR will prevent new eggs that fall onto treated surfaces from being able to mature. So, it adds a nice 2nd layer of prevention along with the dog treatments.

With all the control measures you’ve employed, there shouldn’t have been any new eggs surviving. The current fleas you are seeing should be the last generation. All the immature stages in the environment just need to mature, emerge, and then die. And it sounds like most have done that. You are just left with a few stragglers.

The reason why you continued to see fleas after treatment is because immature stages make up 95-99% of the infestation. The larvae avoid light and move to the base of carpets when they hatch. There, they are protected, because sprays can’t penetrate that far into the matrix, and vacuuming has similar issues. So, many fleas at the base of the carpets when treatment began probably weren’t affected.

Most infestations end 8 weeks after treatment. However, in severe infestations it can take a bit longer. Eggs reach adulthood in 17-26 days in homes. The problem stage is the pre-emerged adult. Cocooned adults can enter into a quiescent state for up to 5 months. But they rapidly wake up when they detect heat and pressure, as these cues indicate that a host is resting on the cocoon. Most cocooned adults don’t enter this delayed emergence state, but some do. These are likely the stragglers you are seeing. Vacuuming is one the best ways to force them to emerge, as it causes heat and pressure to simulate a host.

Flea traps aren’t really useful for control. But they are handy for assessing populations and determining the infestation has ended. So, it’s probably a good idea to keep those going so you have a good idea of what’s going on.

You should be in the clear soon! You shouldn’t need to do much more. Just keep your dog on the monthly Frontline treatments until the infestation is over for certain (or longer for continued preventative measures). And continue vacuuming regularly. See our page on how often to vacuum.

Let me know if I missed a question or if you have further questions.

Warm regards,
Adam

christine73 replied 2 months ago

Thanks so much for the response Adam! It’s good to hear that we are almost in the clear. I’m really only finding the occasional flea which is such a relief from where I started.

I do have 1 more question. Vacuuming causes those cocooned fleas to emerge quicker. So when they emerge, do they now pick up a lethal dose of the Ultracide that is in my carpet and they succumb to it in a few hours? I know their casing protects them while I spray but once they hatch it’s fair game for them to die from it right?

christine73 replied 2 months ago

Hi Adam, I forgot that I have one more question. If I continue to get the occasional flea bite, would that be enough to start a new infestation? I read that fleas can’t survive on human blood, is that true?

Adam Retzer Staff replied 2 months ago

The Ultracide contains an adulticide in the form of pyrethrins, and an insect growth regulator (IGR) in the form of pyriproxyfen. The problem with adulticides is that they don’t have a long-lasting residual effect. But it may kill the emerging adults, depending upon how fresh the treatment is. The IGR is what lasts 7 months, but it won’t kill adult fleas. Regardless, the adults will die eventually, either by from the dog treatment, being vacuumed up, or starving.

Most infestations on dogs and cats are cat fleas (C. felis). Some are dog fleas (C. canis). These two species account for nearly all domestic infestations. They can’t survive or reproduce on human blood. However, human fleas (P. irritans) can. Human fleas are fairly rare, so it’s unlikely you are dealing with them. And even if you were, the treatments you’ve employed will end the infestation.

christine73 replied 2 months ago

Thank you for your help Adam! I really appreciate it. I applied the Ultracide on the 11th and the product recommends to retreat every 2 weeks so I’m assuming that’s how long the adulticide lasts? I plan on retreating my house again on Friday hopefully for the last time because I have not physically seen anymore fleas in my house for weeks but I did have a bite about 2 days after I applied the Ultracide so just for peace of mind I will do another treatment. What is the possibility that something else is biting me if I’m not seeing the actual fleas. I haven’t caught anything in my flea trap for weeks and i don’t find any flea dirt or fleas or bites on my dog. So when would I know that this fight is truly over? It’s jusy a little nerve racking everyday wondering if I’m actually in the clear.

christine73 replied 2 months ago

I think I’m developing a fear of these pests because it consumes my thoughts every day that they aren’t gone even though we walk around barefoot in my house and wear shorts and don’t have bites.

christine73 replied 2 months ago

Sorry for the constant comments, I keep remembering things to say afternoon I already post. I’m prettt sure I have cat fleas/dog fleas because at the beginning they seemed more interested in my dog than me. It was only after I treated my dog that they started attacking me and my family.

Adam Retzer Staff replied 2 months ago

Yes, from what I’ve read, adultcides usually last around 1-2 weeks, sometimes shorter. It depends upon the compound and the environmental factors.

It’s probably a flea that caused the bite, since you are dealing with a recent flea infestation and the treatments should control other insect pests as well.

It’s difficult to know if you are completely clear. This is why the IGR treatment in the environment can help ease the stress and uncertainty. It will prevent new generations from developing for 7 months.

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