What’s lurking in your yard? Flea and tick treatments

flea and tick

Dr. Anna Coffin says that flea and tick control is more than just treating your pet.  Understanding the flea and tick life cycle is crucial to flea and tick treatment.  This article will include treatment options available for your pet and tips on treating the environment.

Flea and tick life cycle:


  1. Eggs are deposited on the host and then fall into the environment within a few hours.  Flea eggs are very small, about the size of a grain of salt.  Eggs make up 50% of the flea population
  2. Larvae are small and look like maggots.  Flea larvae feed on flea poop, organic debris, and flea egg shells.  Development into the next life stage depends on temperature and flea and tickhumidity.  Larvae are very susceptible to drying and need to be in cool, moist areas to survive.  Larvae make up 35% of the flea population.
  3. Pupae live in dark most places and can hibernate up to 30 weeks until the temperature and humidity are just right. The pupae are protected by a cocoon and are very resistant to chemicals.  Pupae make up 10% of the flea population.|
  4. Adult fleas begin feeding immediately upon emerging from the pupae and can start laying eggs 24 hours after feeding begins.  One adult flea can lay 50 eggs/day.  Adult fleas only make up 5% of the flea population.


  1. Eggs:  A pregnant female tick can lay 360-3000 eggs in a sheltered environment, not on your pet. 
  2. Larvae hatch from the egg within 2-4 weeks depending upon the temperature.  LarvaeDSC_0019 have six legs and live on the ground or low vegetation.  They feed on birds or small mammals.  After feeding the larvae drops to the ground to molt into the nymph.  Larvae are about the size of a grain of sand.
  3. Nymphs contain eight legs and will feed for 3-7 days.  Once engorged the nymph drops to the ground to molt into the adult.  Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.
  4. Adult ticks can expand to 100 times their original weight before they detach from their host.  Adults are about the size of an apple seed. [Tweet “A pregnant female tick can lay 360-3000 eggs in a sheltered environment”]

Many pets are allergic to fleas causing skin irritation, and they transmit tapeworms.  Ticks transmit almost as many diseases as the mosquito, so it is critical to keep them from attaching to you and your pet.  There are many options available for flea and tick treatment for your pet.

  1. Shampoos are not very effective at killing fleas or ticks unless you allow the lather to soak on the animal for 5-10 minutes.  There is also no residual effect so new fleas and ticks can jump on without being harmed
  2. Collars are not very effective.  However, the flea and tickSeresto collar is a new, very effective eight-month collar that kills and repels fleas & ticks.
  3. Sprays need to be applied liberally and often in order to continue killing fleas and ticks.  Looks for products that contain insect growth regulators to help kill flea eggs.
  4. Topical products are very effective in killing fleas and ticks.  Most products last for about 30 days.  Bathing can decrease the effectiveness of these products. 
  5. Oral medications are very effective and only available with a prescription from your veterinarian.  Capstar is effective for twenty-four hours.  Comfortis and Nexgard are effective for thirty days.  Bravecto is effective for three months.

As you can see from studying the flea and tick life cycle, there is a large portion that lives in the environment.  Because of the large numbers located in the environment, it is important to treat your home, yard, and all animals. 

Tips for treating your house for fleas:

  1. Vacuum carpeted areas.  Make sure to vacuum in dark, moist places (under furniture and in closets) because this is where the larvae and pupae like to live.  Vacuuming stimulates the pupae to hatch into an adult
  2. It’s important to re-treat your yard and house within two weeks because this is the fleas life cycle.  Eggs will be hatching out into adults again.
  3. Use a product that has an insect growth regulator as this will help kill the flea eggs.

Read my post Dog’s best friend:  It’s no who you think it is for tips on environmental control of ticks.  Flea and tick season is approaching quickly so talk with your veterinarian or check out our online store about what products they recommend for your pet’s protection.


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