In most parts of the country, the cooler temperatures of autumn and winter bring with them a decline in insect population, killing off those pesky bugs which have annoyed the dickens out of us through the summer. Finally! Gone will be the wasps and the horseflies! However, while we can look forward to fewer bugs in the coming months, we must remember: some insect species do not die out with the cold. Some remain a nuisance all year-round. Some insects—such as fleas, which irritate both our animal friends and us—actually thrive in cooler weather, becoming an even bigger problem than they were in the spring and the summer. Fleas pose a potential year-long nuisance, so it’s important to take measures to protect your pets, your family, and your property from these pesky little bloodsuckers.
Why are fleas most active during the fall? Shouldn’t they be dying?
As mentioned before, fleas thrive in cooler weather. They’re particularly active in temperatures of 70-75° Fahrenheit (which is about average for most states during the fall). In conditions such as these, they can complete their natural life cycle (from egg to larvae to adult) in a matter of weeks; and a female flea will typically lay 30-50 eggs a day! Put two and two together, and you have millions and millions of these little pests!
Where do fleas hide during the fall?
Fleas dislike sunlight, so they often congregate in tall (i.e. un-mowed) grass or take refuge underneath piles of leaves. These environments shield them from the light while at the same time providing an opportune location to lie and wait for a host.
Infographic: The Lifecycle of Fleas >>
Once they’ve jumped onto an unwary dog (or person), a flea typically remains on its host. So let’s say your dog picks up a parasite while frolicking in that pile of leaves in the corner of the yard. When they come back indoors, they will bring the infestation with them, and the fleas will then continue to reproduce inside your home! Sometimes, flea larvae will burrow into the carpet (where they also have protection from light) until they mature and then jump on hosts as they pass by.
One more thing to keep in mind: as you know, autumn is the time of year that our furry friends start growing winter coats. This is their bodies’ natural way of preparing themselves for the even more frigid months ahead. Unfortunately, this also means that any parasites living on their skin now have thicker, fuller protection and denser hiding places. When you get down to it, an autumn flea infestation is a predicament you’ll want to avoid.
Related Article: Help! My Dog Has Tapeworms! >>
Ways to Help Prevent an Infestation:
So the best way to avoid this situation is to help prevent an infestation before it even happens. Here are some preventative measures you can take.
- Vacuum regularly. Since fleas frequently hide in the carpet (where they can avoid light), vacuum the floor several times to get rid of any pests who might’ve snuck in.
- Regularly wash your pet’s bedding in hot water. The heat and water will kill any pests who’ve taken refuge.
- Frequently mow the lawn. If the grass surrounding your house doesn’t become too tall, fleas have fewer places to hide and are less likely to converge near your house.
- Check out our selection of yard sprays. Make your lawn inhospitable to all kinds of pesky insects with these handy sprays.
- Keep your pet on their flea + tick meds. This is the most effective solution of all. Just like with heartworm meds, your pets need flea and tick protection all year long. Just remembering to give them their meds every month greatly reduces the odds of an infestation.