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Fleas As Carry Out

Wednesday March 6, 2013

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Mr Pest Control

Question:

Fleas in a motel room. The man has used most all of the over the counter products available. When he opened a plastic trash bag with clean clothes in it the flea problem started all over again. Ideas? Doesn't washing and drying clothes get rid of fleas on clothes?

Mr Pest Control

Answer:

Well, the good news, I suppose, is that flea control is back on our schedule after a bit of an absence some years back. The bad news is that we have to learn once again how to control this pest, and usually it is fairly cut and dry. But, sometimes these oddball things show up. I assume this must be an "extended stay" type of motel room where this person has been for awhile. You have kind of thrown me off with your comment linking the trash bag and its contents with an apparent re-appearance of the fleas, so we'll have to investigate that. The many over-the-counter products are more often than not things like total release aerosols ("bomb") that could be expected to fail as often as not. However, he may also have used one or more of the directed-spray aerosols, such as our Precor 2000 or Ultracide, and these should be very effective if applied correctly. 


If this was just a lingering problem in the rooms I would go back to my standard scapegoat of the flea pupae. A percentage of the fleas that have made it to the pupa stage, concealed within a silk cocoon, will remain in that "pre-adult" stage until they are stimulated to emerge as the final adult flea, and this may be by physical contact or strong vibration or even an increase in carbon dioxide, all of which would signal to the waiting flea that a meal must be nearby. The solution for this is not continual insecticide applications, but vacuuming. Thorough vacuuming helps to push these last fleas out of the pupa and they then can be removed with the vacuum or killed while exposed using contact and residual insecticides. But, if he already has applied a soup of different materials you may want to avoid adding more chemicals to this environment, and focus on the vacuuming and patience. 

A flea life cycle from new egg to adult flea takes a minimum of about 2 weeks. The eggs are deposited almost always directly on the animal by the adult fleas, which do not hop on and off the animal. Humans are poor hosts for fleas, so we are talking dogs and cats. The eggs fall off the animal and the larvae then live in the substrate feeding on organic crud and the all-important dried fecal material from the adult fleas, which also falls off the animal. All this is important information because without pets in the room too there could be no continual production of fleas. Does this man have pets in his motel room, and if so then they must be addressed first to eliminate their fleas and keep them off. 

f he has no pets and never has then it would seem most likely that the infestation did not come in that plastic bag, but may already have been present in this room or in the nearby outside area. I have seen massive flea problems in homes with no pets that had to be traceable to animals in the crawl space or under decks just outside, so it pays to investigate this further. Also, unless that clothing in the bag had included pet bedding or pet sweaters that might have supported developing fleas, it would be really odd to find adult fleas living in clothing. That just does not support their earthly needs. A direct answer is YES, hot water wash and hot dryer will definitely kill fleas, their larvae, and their eggs, but maybe the bag of clothing is just a red herring and odd coincidence. 

I would begin with a very thorough vacuuming of this room each day for several days to a week, and place glue traps around the room to see if you can isolate any hot spots. I would evaluate the exterior, particularly if this is a ground floor room with an outside patio door, to determine if it could be outside animals resting nearby and supplying the fleas. I would avoid any new insecticide applications at the moment until you give the vacuuming and traps a chance, but a light mist of pyrethrum will kill adult fleas if they become unbearable. But, if any pets are maintained flea-less then the focus has to be on the environment of the larvae, since this is where new fleas will be coming from. 

Mr. Pest Control

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Please note, Mr. Pest Control is answering questions supplied by PMP customers across North America. His answers are generated from industry and manufacturer-provided information. The answer may not be specific to the laws and regulations for your State, Province, Territory or Country. In addition, products mentioned may not be registered and or available in all areas. Always check with your local Univar office for specific information to your area. Always read and follow label directions.

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