Son’s cats moved into my house

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QuestionsCategory: Flea InfestationsSon’s cats moved into my house
Adam Retzer Staff asked 1 year ago

Question moved from: How long will it take for all fleas to die after treating my home and cat

Hi Adam,

Thank you so much for all the info your site provide.

I discovered the fleas infestations on October 23rd 2016 about a month and a half after my son’s cats moved into my house. We treated the cats and found them a new home for other reasons, and as soon as the cats left I noticed a bad infestation all over my house and in every room I saw fleas as well as in the basement. The cats left on October 23rd 2016. I started with natural approach such as DE Powder and vacuuming every day sometimes twice a day and throwing the bag outside, saw some improvement but still saw more fleas everywhere and couldn’t tell where they were coming from.

I have carpets in two bedrooms and wood floors and tile in living room area and I saw the fleas jumping in and out of the wood floor cracks and also would see them on my cloths and socks (couldn’t see them on the carpets but saw some on glue traps that were placed on the carpet.

I then moved on to Zodiac fleas powder and that killed a lot of the adult ones but I still kept seeing more fleas not nearly as much but even after 3 weeks of the treatment, I would find them on my clothes and white socks and whenever I saw them on me I put scotch tape on them and killed them. But since it didn’t stop completely and I kept seeing more fleas I decided to hire professional pest control because I was worried about re-infestation and my back was killing me from vacuuming so much.

So on November 13th (3 weeks after I treated with the Zodiac) the exterminator came and treated the entire house with Pernethrin S FR and treated the area rugs out on the porch with IGR spray). He told me to continue the vacuuming everyday for the next few days, which I did for over a week just in case. But I keep seeing more fleas on glue traps and some dead on the floors aa well as some live ones on my socks even 4 weeks after his treatment, so I called the exterminator again (since he gave me 6 months warranty), and he came back on December 10th (4 weeks after treatment) and inspected the area I saw them again and he didn’t see any fleas, he said it must be eggs hatching because the treatment cannot destroy the eggs and that they will die soon after they emerging. He said that this treatment is heavily government regulated and he would hate to spray this chemical all over my house again. He said he believes it will stop soon.

I didn’t see any jumping fleas after he inspected but did found few on glue trap and some dead on the floor. I stopped vacuuming for about 5 days and then on Dec 23rd (which is almost 6 weeks after he used treatment) I vacuumed again just upstairs b/c I didn’t see any in the basement after his treatment, and on Dec 26th I saw about 3-4 jumping fleas on the wood floor in one of the rooms and today Dec 27th I saw one on my pants.

Its been 6 weeks since he treated my house and its been 8 weeks since I started treatment with the Zodiac.

I haven’t had any flea bites for over 6 weeks now because I wear socks over my pants and wear bright and light color clothing so I get rid of the fleas with scotch tape every time I see them on me. At this point I think I am suffering from PTSD from it all.

I called the exterminator again yesterday and he said the same thing again, that he believes its eggs hatching still…. Is this true? and if so how long will this end? Do you think I should demand another treatment?

Should I continue to vacuum every day still? and if so, for how much longer.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I live in Western Mass so there is snow in the yard now and so I didn’t have to treat the yard even though I disposed a lot of fleas before the snow came that were vacuumed in shop-vec with no bag, (I’ve used both Shop-Vec and mostly regular vacuum with bags (the bags I disposed in plastic bag and in dumpster) but whatever I caught in the shop-vac I disposed at least about 10 feet away from my house which also lots of wild animal present and I am sure could have been the new host but now there is snow all over on the ground.

And is it still necessary to dispose the Vacuum bag after each vacuum session? I’ve used up at least 50 bags so far… I am using a progressive Kenmore canister… and should I consider buying a new vacuum that may work better?

Thank you so much for your help!


1 Answers
Adam Retzer Staff answered 1 year ago

Hello Dorine, I’m sorry to hear about your flea problem and related frustrations.

95-99% of flea infestations consist immature stages (eggs, larvae and pupae). These stages live in the environment, often deep within carpets. On other floor types, the larvae seek out dark, protected areas, such as cracks.

The exterminator is correct. Carpeting is an extremely difficult substrate to treat with insecticides. Sprays can’t penetrate into the carpet fibers well, so most of the immature stages will be protected and unaffected. The exterminator’s treatments will primarily only kill adult fleas, and adults only account for 1-5% of the infestation. At any given time, few adults will be emerged and in the environment.

The infestation will be completely over once all the immature fleas in the environment mature, emerge, and then die. The insecticide treatments probably won’t kill all of these emerging fleas, because the chemicals have a relatively short residual effect. However, the fleas won’t be able to survive or reproduce without an animal in the home. They’ll starve to death within a week or two of emerging from cocoons. Vacuuming is a good way to remove and kill these fleas early.

The IGR is useful for killing some of the pre-existing eggs and larvae. However, like I mentioned, sprays can’t penetrate carpets well, so many won’t be affected. The IGR is good for preventing re-infestation though, as it lasts for 7 months. Any new eggs falling onto the treated environment won’t be able to survive. But without any pets, there won’t be any new eggs anyway.

Flea infestations usually take around 8 weeks to end. But it can take longer, especially in severe infestations. It sounds like your problem went undetected for a while, so there were likely many, many eggs laid. You probably had a moderately severe infestation. However, you should be on the down-slope now, and will be flea-free within a few weeks.

You shouldn’t need any further exterminator treatments. They won’t be that useful. The infestation will end on its own if you don’t have pets. The best thing you can do to speed up the eradication process is to vacuum frequently. In an active infestation, with pets in the home, it’s best to vacuum every other day to remove freshly fallen eggs. However, in your case, vacuuming a few times a week should be sufficient.

Pre-emerged adults are the biggest problem. After pupating, adults can stay quiescent inside their cocoons for up to 5 months. They’ll remain in this sleep-like state until they detect a host (heat and pressure). Vacuuming simulates these host cues and forces emergence.

It’s commonly given advice to dispose of the vacuum’s bag, or sanitize the canister. However, a study was done in 2007 showing that fleas can’t survive the process of being vacuumed up by a beater-bar vacuum. No immature stages live through the process. And less than 5% of adults can survive, with those surviving being damaged beyond the point of re-acquiring a host. There’s no need to dispose of the bag after every vacuuming.

If you feel like your vacuum cleaner is sub-par, then it may be a good idea to purchase a new one with better suction power and cleaning ability. But this probably isn’t necessary.

I hope this information helps! Let me know if you have any further questions.


Dorine replied 1 year ago

Thank you Adam so much for your detailed reply. I am now relieved knowing it will end within a few weeks and I am mostly relieved to hear that I won’t have a re-infestation since I don’t have pets in the house. I’ll continue to vacuum few times a week and I am also glad to hear that I no longer have to dispose the bags. I haven’t washed the floors since the exterminator treated the floors because he said the Permethrin remains active for about 4 months, but based on what you wrote sounds like it doesn’t remain active for too long… so my question how long after that treatment you suggest I wash/mop the floors?

Also, (Just to make sure I understood correctly) you said that if there isn’t any pet in the house the infestation would eventually stop on it own even without treatment?

Adam Retzer Staff replied 1 year ago

In the studies I’ve read, adulticide treatments (such as permethrin) usually don’t persist for more than 3 weeks. In some cases, adult fleas emerging just a few days after treatment weren’t killed. Still, it’s probably best to wait to wash the floors until the infestation ends. Walking around with white socks and using flea traps are good ways to assess flea populations so you can determine when the infestation is completely over.

Yes, the infestation should end on its own. It may just take 5-6 months without any control efforts (because of the pre-emerged adults). The fleas can’t survive or reproduce on human blood. So there won’t be a new generation of fleas to continue the infestation. You can read our related article here: Can fleas survive and reproduce on human blood?

Dorine replied 1 year ago

I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am to have found this site and be able to communicate with someone as knowledgeable as you. I wish I found this forum earlier but better now than never. Keep up the good work and have a wonderful New Year! -Dorine

Adam Retzer Staff replied 1 year ago

Thank you for the compliments on the website. I’m glad I could help. I wish you the best for the new year!