Navigation Links
Cat fleas' journey into the vacuum is a 'one-way trip'
Date:12/17/2007

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 bags should be emptied, burned or frozen.

Lead study author W. Fred Hink, professor emeritus of entomology at Ohio State and a longtime researcher in nontoxic controls of fleas on dogs, sought to test the effects of vacuuming on all flea life stages and whether any extra disposal steps or additional chemical controls are necessary.

Fleas have multiple life stages. Adult fleas eat blood meals and mate while living on a host animal. Females lay eggs, which roll off of the animal and onto the floor, furniture or pet bedding. After hatching from the eggs two to 14 days later, the insects go through three larval stages, the last of which spins a cocoon to protect the pupa stage. New adults typically emerge within a week or two.

The study involved groups of 100 adult fleas at a time, as well as groups of 50 pupae and 50 larvae, by vacuuming them up from a tightly woven kitchen-type of carpet. Six tests of vacuuming the adult fleas yielded an average of 96 percent of fleas killed; three tests of vacuumed pupae and one test of vacuumed larvae (in their third stage of development) resulted in 100 percent killed.

In comparison, an average of only 5 percent of adult fleas died after being held in paper vacuum bags to test for toxicity, and an average of only 3 percent died when circulated in moving air.

I did not include eggs in the vacuum study, but I'm sure they would not have survived, Hink said.

Flea survival in general is on the wane these days, Needham noted, because of numerous effective chemical treatments on the market that kill fleas on companion animals.

For awhile, fleas owned us. But now they're on the run, Needham said. There are all kinds of ways to manage the problem, but how people feel about insecticides and how much money they want to spend factors into what they're going to do for flea control. Vacuuming is a great strategy because it involves no chemicals and physically removes the problem.

He also said the effectiveness of some insecticides is likely to decrease as fleas inevitably develop resistance to the currently available compounds. Because of that, Needham is among researchers seeking other nontoxic ways to kill fleas and other household pests, including studying the use of ultraviolet light.

We're hoping to find that exposure to UV light could knock the flea population down even further. It appears to be a pretty powerful technology for this purpose, he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Glen Needham
Needham.1@osu.edu
614-688-3026
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study shows how the zebrafish gets his stripe
2. New membrane strips carbon dioxide from natural gas faster and better
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/15/2016)... Dec. 15, 2016   WaferGen Bio-systems, Inc. ... technology company, announced today that on December 13, 2016, ... of The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC which acknowledged that, ... of WaferGen,s common stock had been at $1.00 or ... regained compliance with Listing Rule 5550(a)(2) of the Nasdaq ...
(Date:12/12/2016)...  Researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, are opening ... the material with Silly Putty. The mixture (known as ... to sense pulse, blood pressure, respiration, and even ... The research team,s findings were published Thursday ... http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6317/1257 ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... 7, 2016   Avanade is helping Williams ... teams in history, exploit biometric data in order to ... maintain the competitive edge against their rivals after their ... Avanade has worked with Williams during the 2016 ... data (heart rate, breathing rate, temperature and peak acceleration) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 19, 2017 , ... FireflySci Inc. ... exponential rate. The tremendous growth is accounted to two main factors. The ... and the expanding network of vendors supplying FireflySci products all around the world. , ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... 2017  Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc. (OTCQB: NWBO) ("NW Bio"), ... for operable and inoperable solid tumor cancers, announced today ... of NW Bio, will present at the Phacilitate Immunotherapy ... Hyatt Regency Hotel in Miami, Florida ... entitled "New Therapeutic Approaches – Expanding the Reach of ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... Opal Kelly, a leading ... PCI Express, announced the ZEM5310 USB 3.0 FPGA Module, combining a SuperSpeed USB ... sized form factor suitable for prototyping, testing, and production-ready integration. The ZEM5310 USB ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... Mass. , Jan. 18, 2017 ... applying mechanistic modeling to drug research and development, ... PhD, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Applied BioMath, ... for Informatics and Modeling (BAGIM) Meeting on Thursday ... Cambridge , MA.   Dr. Burke,s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: