The one big positive of living in a cold and snowy area is that many insects do not overwinter, and thus pressure is reduced during those long cold months. Those in the more temperate climates can fight these battles throughout the entire year.
Fleas, for example, exhibit a complete life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult), but can stall development of protected stages during periods where external conditions are not as hospitable. Around 75 F is optimum for development, and they can complete their life cycle within just a few days near that temperature.
Under less than perfect conditions, larvae can stay in their cocoon for up to 30 weeks, as witnessed at 51.8 F. Others will survive the winter on their host or in protected areas, and with the onset of spring, populations of immature stages rapidly increase. No life stage can survive near-freezing temperatures for very long. While in the cocoon, development will continue until a stimulus, usually temperature or vibration of a suitable host, occurs.
Adult fleas, both male and female, feed on host blood for anywhere from 4 to 25 days. During this time, the female can lay anywhere from 150 to over 400 eggs! These eggs have little to no structures or ability to stay on the host, so they often roll off, particularly in resting areas.
Fleas are obligate ectoparasites, meaning that they do rely on a host for a blood meal to survive, and will not stray far. This means that some of the steps of control include sanitation and treatment of areas that the pet frequently rests.
Feeding results in small red bumps that cause itching, leading to scratching, and sometimes can become severe. Select animals will exhibit allergy symptoms making this situation much more of an issue. Furthermore, flea larvae can ingest tapeworm eggs. If these fleas are ingested by a dog through grooming or other methods, that tapeworm can be passed on.
The upside is that there are several management practices that are very proficient in control. It is best to consult a veterinarian when determining the method used on your pet, but many pest control and lawn care professionals can offer treatment of homes and yards.
The first stages of outdoor control include sanitation and a clean up of any debris or excess matter lying around the yard. Wild animals are also excellent carriers of all stages of a flea's life cycle so excluding them from the yard will help.
Contact insecticides including the synthetic pyrethroids, those "thrin" insecticides are very effective in knocking down sensitive adults and larvae. These products include: Bifen, Cyonara, Cyper, Cyzmic, D-fense, and Permethrin. Most of these products have a short life span, generally from 14 to 28 days and may require re-application.
The challenge comes when you have insects in multiple life stages. Eggs and pupae tend to be very difficult to control and singular applications may not seem effective at all. The trick is to mix it with an insect growth regulator (IGR) to help disrupt the insect’s life cycle. The effects will include reduced egg production and prevention of larvae that develop into adults. Tekko is an example of an IGR, and using it in conjunction with the previously mentioned contact insecticides can be the one-two punch that you will need to knock out a flea invasion.