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Preparing for a Flea Treatment

The flea life cycle goes from egg to larvae to pupa to adult.  Adult fleas stay on their host: they eat, mate and even lay their eggs on their host, such as a cat or dog. The female flea usually lays her eggs at night, and the eggs simply fall off the animal, accumulating where the animal spends more time, such as where they sleep and rest. Also, the fleas defecate blood protein-rich feces, and this falls in the same areas.  The feces provide a food source for the flea larvae after they hatch.

Thus, there are two parts to a good flea job: treatment of the pet itself, and treatment of the areas the pet frequents. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to treat their pets; we cannot do it. You can buy medications for the control of fleas on pets, at Amazon.com, for example.

FIRST: Vacuum! Vacuuming will suck up all stages of fleas, especially the eggs, larvae and pupa, as well as the flea feces. Vacuum all places the pets spend time at: pet beds and areas around them, next to sofas and chairs, the sofas themselves, behind and under the sofas, under beds, etc. Do not miss anything. You may need to wash pet blankets and other items the pets sleep on. While vacuuming, keep in mind that the eggs are tiny, and can work down into cracks. For example, with sofas, vacuum the top of the sofa, then remove the cushions, and vacuum under them, as the eggs and feces are likely to have settled through the spaces between the cushions.

Let us know all of these spots, as we will want to treat most of these same areas.

In preparation for a flea treatment:

  1. Remove all toys, clothing, and stored items from the floors, and other areas we want to treat.  All these areas need to accessible for treatment.
  2. Remove pet food and water dishes. If you have aquaria, cover them and turn off their aerators.

The service technician will answer any questions you have.

Thoroughness is key. If we miss an area, the flea problem is likely to persist. Let me give you an example. A lady, who did not own any pets, had fleas in her house. Her son, who lived out of the area, would sometimes come to visit her, and he would bring his dog. Her house was perfectly clean, well vacuumed, and yet, she had fleas. I moved a cushioned chair, and beneath it was dog hair, and a pile of dog poop! One spot, about 2 by 2 feet, missed in vacuuming, and she had fleas.


Often the fleas are developing under houses, or in some spot in the yard. Feral cats, or even a neighbor’s cat, might be getting under a house or other building, or resting in your yard. Opossums carry cat fleas, and we have had numerous cases where one has died under a house, and the fleas then dispersed to find whatever potential host was available. If you can, block access to the subarea.  If you need help with this, let us know, as we have staff that can do this for you.


Sometimes dogs are kept in pens, or on cables and chains. In many of these cases, the ‘floor’ is dirt. Churned up soil does not kill flea eggs and larvae; they simply get mixed into it. Sometimes this loose soil is an inch or more thick. Spray that lands on this dusty soil hardly penetrates it. Therefore, we may need to come back and re-apply to these areas, maybe several times. Let us know if this is needed; it does not cost more.


Booklice in a Buckwheat Hull Mattress

We got a report of a booklouse infestation in a buckwheat hull mattress, in Sonora California. The mattress is composed of long, twisted tubes of buckwheat hulls, and it is harboring booklice. See images below.

According to the homeowner, the booklice crawl all over the bed and seem to crawl pretty much on the sheet on top of the buckwheat hulls.  They appear in the summer when it’s consistently hot, starting in June. The mattress is the only place in the house where the booklice are seen. 

There is some discussion and debate about whether or not booklice are a problem on hull mattresses, online. See “Are there any problems with insects getting into a hull mattress or pillow?”   Despite claims from those who sell these mattresses as not being conducive to booklice survival, these mattresses can indeed support booklice.

The literature shows that booklice like buckwheat, as shown in this paper: Food-selection by the booklouse, Liposcelis bostrychophila Badonnel (Psocoptera : Liposcelididae) . We can assume, from the presence of the booklice, that although this is a hull mattress, there is sufficient residue of the buckwheat to support a population of booklice.  July 18, 2017.

Eye gnat, genus Liohippelates

While working in the yard on a hot afternoon, July 9, 2017, a couple of these eye gnats (probably Liohippelates) came after me, so to speak. They were incredibly aggressive, flying all around my face, and landing on me. I was very sweaty. I killed one, and then this second fly came. I went inside, got my bug net and a vial of alcohol, and within a minute of two, this fly was all over me again. When it flew near my ear, I could hear the high pitch of its wings beating (but not as high a pitch as a mosquito). He is preserved in the vial now.  Columbia California, 9 July 2017. Thanks to Dr. Lynn Kimsey with the ID.