Thanks in advance for your help!
My family of 5 just moved into a rental home that had a flea problem we were unaware of. Prior to moving in, we tore out all the carpets on the main floor. There is not any carpeting left in the house. We thoroughly cleaned all the house but it was not until we were here for one week that we noticed the first flea. Fast forward another week and I have only seen and killed two more however my 4 year old who plays on the floor has presented with quite a few bites! I caught and killed one that was biting out 2 week old as well. Very frustrating! We know the previous owner had a large dog and from what I can tell the “hot spot” for the fleas was in the corner of the room where their couch was (we quickly toured the home before they had moved out).
I suppose my biggest concern is how we can ensure that we do not take these pests into our newly built home in 5 or 6 months. We do not have a pet and do not plan to take our area rugs. Any other precautions we should take? We are vacuuming several times a week – mainly along the trim in the living room as I assume the fleas were residing at the edges of the carpet? It is my understanding that they cannot reproduce by biting just us…however can they live longer because they are biting us? We are trying to avoid chemicals with having 3 young children!
Lastly, we have not spotted any upstairs. Aside from traveling on us, is there any way that they can get upstairs? Should we be persistently vacuuming up there too?
First off, I apologize for this late response.
If the previous tenant’s dog was infested, then most likely the flea species is cat fleas (C. felis). Cat fleas and dog fleas (C. canis) are the most common flea species, and they can’t survive or reproduce on human blood. So, without pets, you shouldn’t have much of a problem. You’ll just have to deal with the remnants of the last infestation before the last fleas finally perish.
Human fleas (P. irritans) are a much less common species. But they may be able to survive and reproduce on human blood. So, this species could be a bit more troublesome. Identifying the species can be done relatively easily by close observation of the fleas’ heads. Try to find a flea in your home and take a close look at it. Flea traps are useful for this, or, alternatively, walking around the hot-spot areas in long white socks can attract the fleas to jump onto you.
Take a look at this image: Cat fleas vs dog fleas vs human fleas. Img D is the head of a cat flea. It’s elongated and has combs (rows of dark bristles). Img E is a dog flea. The head isn’t as long, but still contains combs. Img H is a human flea. The head is more compressed and it lacks any combs.
In all likelihood you have cat fleas, and the infestation should go away on its own. The longest an infestation can continue is around 5 months after the pet was vacated (or treatment started). After pupating, cocooned adults can enter into a quiescent (dormant-like) state for up to 5 months. Heat and pressure on the cocoons force emergence, as they indicate a host is resting on them. Vacuuming is a good way to simulate these cues. The vacuum will trigger adult emergence and then suck up the fleas to kill them.
You shouldn’t have any problems related to transferring the fleas to your new home. Especially because it’s over 5 months away from when the previous infested owners left. The infestation should be completely gone by the time you move. Area rugs are one of the most common items that get infested, but even these shouldn’t be a problem for you. They get infested when an infested pet lays on them, as flea eggs will fall off and develop there. This shouldn’t have been an issue with you since you didn’t have pets.
You shouldn’t need to use any chemicals. Vacuuming is the best thing you can do, and it sounds like you are. It’s probably not necessary to focus too much upstairs if you haven’t found any fleas there. While flea traps aren’t particularly useful for control, they can be a really helpful tool for assessing populations in areas. It may be a good idea to place a few traps around the home (one upstairs even) to see where the fleas are and if they are gone.
Hope this helps,