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
|Contact: Glen Needham|
Ohio State University