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Fleas are tiny pests that prey on animals, such as canines, felines, and deer. Properties with domesticated and/or wild animals are the most common flea targets. There is no evidence that shows the flea to be harmful to the environment or humans. In fact, these insects are more of a nuisance than a health or environmental concern. However, some flea species have been linked to the spread of plague and typhus to humans through bites. In Denver, Colorado, and throughout the United States, fleas are considered an annoyance, drawing some concern among experts and pet and property owners.
What Flea Species Are Found In Colorado?
The most common flea species known to plague animals in Colorado is the Pulex irritan (human flea). The Pulex irritan has been more commonly associated with wild mammals like the coyote, fox, and skunk than domesticated animals, such as the feline and canine. The adult flea measures approximately 1/8 of an inch in length, with a flattened body structure. Unlike the louse and bed bug, the flea has a slender body structure to ensure easy access through animal fur and a quick escape. Fleas most of their time feasting on animal blood and the rest of their time trying to escape human detection. Fleas are known to plague a broad range of tame and wild animals, such as raccoons, deer, opossums, canines (dogs), felines (cats), rabbits, squirrels, and ferrets. Fleas also target birds and small rodents like mice and rats.
Characteristics Of A Flea Bite
Differentiating between one insect bite to another can be extremely difficult since they are all very similar. Animal flea bites have been linked to loss of fur, continuous itching and scratching, and allergic dermatitis. These insect bite symptoms are linked to the protein found in the saliva of fleas. These insects have also been associated with tapeworms in humans and domesticated animals that are housed indoors.
Flea Infestation Prevention
Flea infestations are very difficult to prevent, especially in homes with domesticated animals. If your pets are housed indoors, the risk of a flea infestation is much lower than for outdoor pets. When pets are housed outdoors, they are not only exposed to the elements but also all kinds of insect species, including the flea. To protect your pets, family, and home from flea infestations, you will need to do the following:
- Do not adopt a pet if you are physically unable to care for it
- Treat your pets with an anti-parasite treatment specific for flea prevention
- Keep your lawn neat and trim (no taller than 3 inches) to minimize ground level humidity
- Never feed wild animals when they frequent your property
- Install fencing to prevent access to wild animals
- Routinely inspect your pet’s fur, bedding, and shelter for signs of fleas
- Routinely clean your pet’s bedding and shelter
- Routinely vacuum your entire home to remove any potential flea larvae to prevent a full-blown flea infestation
It is impossible to create a 100 percent flea-safe barrier around your home. But, if you are diligent and follow the tips provided above, your flea infestation risk will decrease significantly.