Fleas are tiny insects that irritate our pets by biting them. The pet then starts biting or licking itself, trying to get rid of the fleas. This can result in bald, raw patches, or rashes. Fleas use the pet as a host, sucking blood. The female can lay 2 000 eggs in her lifetime. A female flea is ready to produce eggs after feeding for 24 hours. The gestation period is two weeks. She can lay 50 eggs per day for 40 days. The eggs fall off and lie dormant wherever the pet has been - eg in the bed, on the carpet, chairs, floor and garden. Regular sweeping, washing and vacuuming of the pet's environment will help get rid of eggs. Larvae emerge from the eggs which eat the dirt in the surroundings, then turn into pupae. From the pupa emerges an adult flea, which jumps on to the pet, and the circle starts again.
One can sometimes find nests of fleas, especially behind the neck where the pet cannot groom itself, or on the top of the head. Part the hair to look for fleas if your dog or cat is scratching. A flea comb can comb them out. Another sign of fleas is black specks, which is dried blood. This may turn red when the pet is bathed.
Fleas also attack humans, leaving small red itchy spots. They are hard to catch as they can jump. They have no wings, but their hind legs propel them into the air. They are a host for tapeworm, which can affect your dog or cat, if they swallow a flea.
In South Africa, the winter is not cold enough to kill all the fleas, so we need to take precautions all year round. There are many remedies on the market - pills, dips, powders and liquids. Your vet will advise. There are also sprays available to spray the house and garden. This kills larvae. But we need to keep cleaning the environment too. There is no quick fix. It's a matter of keeping on with the flea product until the pet "vacuums up" all the fleas and they are killed.
There's no reference to fleas in the Bible, but there is reference to flies, lice, locusts & caterpillars. God used a swarm of flies to warn Pharoah not to tell lies. The next time we see an insect, let's think, "Did I tell the truth today? Can I be trusted?"
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