Cat fleas are the most frequently encountered fleas in the commercial office environment. Since they are common pests on domestic cats and dogs, fleas or their larvae may be brought in to the office by an employee having personal contact with them. Being very tiny insects, adult fleas are difficult to see and identify. They are wingless insects, approximately 1/8 inch in length and reddish brown to black in color. They are slim and compressed-looking from side to side, so appear to be walking “on edge.”
Fleas have piercing-sucking mouthparts through which they obtain blood meals from their host animal. Flea larvae develop more quickly at higher temperatures. When temperatures are cool, fully formed fleas may remain in their cocoons for up to 12 months. Warm temperatures and carpet vibrations stimulate the emergence new fleas. Fleas may be found on pets throughout the year, but their numbers tend to increase dramatically during spring and early summer.
The cat flea is suspected of transmitting murine typhus to humans. Cat fleas readily try to feed on almost any warm-blooded animal. Bites tend to be concentrated on the lower legs but can also occur on other parts of the body. Needless to say, a flea infestation can disrupt a whole office and cause a costly shut down until the pest problem is eliminated.
The best approach to managing fleas is prevention. Effective products aimed at controlling fleas on the pet have made flea management, without pesticide sprays, feasible in many situations. Controlling common fleas in office environments requires a multi-level approach including insecticidal growth inhibitors, sanitiation and monitoring.