No one likes to admit they have a flea problem but flea infestations are very common particularly in association with cats and dogs. Flea eggs drop to the ground, onto the carpet, only hatching when the next ‘meal’ walks by. In particular, problems arise following a return from holidays or in dwellings that have not been occupied for a period of time. When fleas have not fed for some time they are likely to be less specific about their choice of host and take a feed of human blood. Fleas are much more common than Bed Bugs. Three species are most likely to bite humans in New Zealand, the Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis), the Bird Flea (Dasypsyllus gallinulae), and the Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis). The Dog Flea rarely bites humans, but will when no other host is available. The Human Flea (Pulex irritans) is rare in New Zealand, however cat and bird fleas are more common than one might imagine. The unwarranted stigma, attached to a flea infestation, prevents people telling others of the problem. As the name suggests, cat fleas are normally associated with cats. Bird fleas are normally associated with birds and are often a problem where birds are or have nested in some part of a building.
The Black Death, otherwise known as the plague ravaged Europe and Asia between the 14th and 17th centuries, killing hundreds of millions of people. It was the Black Rat that transported the Rat Fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis) infected with the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The fleas fed on the blood of the rats and of the people that they came in contact with, spreading the disease as they sucked blood.
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are found throughout the world and are becoming more common in New Zealand. They hide in cracks and crevices during the day and come out at night to feed. The Bed Bug is wingless and therefore it is likely to be found near to where the host sleeps; in the mattress or bed frame, behind wallpaper and in furniture. Because they can ingest up to seven times their body weight in blood in one feed, they can survive long periods without feeding. After mating takes place, Bed Bugs will lay up to 200 eggs. The nymphs that hatch out are miniature versions of the adult. There is no larval stage. The nymphs will molt several times over a period of 6-18 months before becoming an adult.
Often the only evidence of a bed bug infestation, other than people with itchy and iritated bite marks, is blood spots on bed linen. When the bed bug inserts its mouth parts through the skin of its host to suck a meal of blood it injects an anaesthetic so that the unfortunate victim is not aware of the bugs presence. After filling up with blood the bed bug removes its proboscis and because the insect is fulll of blood under pressure a small drip is often extruded onto the bed linen. This will appear as a small dark red cross once dried on a cotton sheet. If you find any evidence of bed bugs, contact Target pest for a price.