COLUMBUS , Ohio Homeowners dogged by household fleas need look no farther than the broom closet to solve their problem. Scientists have determined that vacuuming kills fleas in all stages of their lives, with an average of 96 percent success in adult fleas and 100 percent destruction of younger fleas.
In fact, the results were so surprisingly definitive that the lead scientist, an Ohio State University insect specialist, repeated the experiments several times to be sure the findings were correct. The studies were conducted on the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis, the most common type of flea plaguing companion animals and humans.
The lead researcher also examined vacuum bags for toxicity and exposed fleas to churning air in separate tests to further explore potential causes of flea death. He and a colleague believed that the damaging effects of the brushes, fans and powerful air currents in vacuum cleaners combine to kill the fleas. The study used a single model of an upright vacuum, but researchers don't think the vacuum design has much bearing on the results.
No matter what vacuum a flea gets sucked into, it's probably a one-way trip, said Glen Needham, associate professor of entomology at Ohio State and a co-author of the study.
The results are published in a recent issue of the journal Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata.
Needham theorized that the vacuum brushes wear away the cuticle, a waxy outer later on fleas and most insects that allows the bugs to stay hydrated. Without the waxy protection, the adult fleas. larvae and pupae probably dry up and die, he said.
We didn't do a post-mortem, so we don't know for sure. But it appears that the physical abuse they took caused them to perish, he said.
Conventional wisdom has suggested for years that homeowners should vacuum carpeted areas to physically remove fleas, and some recommendations went so far as to say the contents of the ba
|Contact: Glen Needham|
Ohio State University