Fleas thrive in warm temperatures, so it is easy for new pet owners (and even longtime pet owners) to assume that once autumn arrives, fleas will depart. After months of battling fleas during the spring and summer, pet owners are understandably tired of worrying about them. Unfortunately, flea season lasts much of the year in most of the UK.
Warm, wet weather is prime weather for fleas. During late spring and all through summer, most regions experience outbreaks of fleas. However, fleas do not care about the calendar. As long as the area is warm enough -- about 15.6 degrees C (60 degrees F) or warmer -- for them to breed, and the adult fleas have a blood meal, they will breed. As long as larvae have sufficient humidity to hatch (50 per cent at least), they will hatch. Because of climate-controlled homes, fleas easily breed inside all yearlong if homeowners don't eliminate fleas, flea eggs and flea larvae.
In most areas of the UK, flea season lasts from March or April through to November or December. Fleas live almost everywhere in the world. Flea season is slightly different country to country, but regions with warm, wet climates have fleas all year.
To prevent flea infestations, treat animals at the very beginning of flea season and be vigilant about vacuuming and general cleaning. This way, fleas won't have the chance to become established on your pet, in your pet's bedding or in your carpets. The actual date to begin treatment will vary year to year, depending on temperature and humidity. Monthly topical flea treatments, such as Advantage or Frontline, are better -- and safer -- than flea collars or other over-the-counter flea medicines for preventing and controlling flea infestations.
Fleas are not only a nuisance, but they also carry diseases and the tapeworm parasite; they can cause flea-bite dermatitis and anaemia. Parasites and flea anaemia can be especially serious for kittens and elderly cats.
There is no such thing as a safe chemical pesticide, but some are less toxic than others. Over-the-counter topical flea medicines are generally more toxic and less effective than those you buy from your vet. Fleas have developed resistance to some chemicals in over-the-counter flea products.