Dos & Don’ts: Tropical Rat Fleas


April 28, 2014

  • Do the applied siphonapterology
  • Don’t let the tropical rat flea (sometimes known as the Oriental rat flea) become a danger as disease vectors. Its scientific name, Xenopsylla cheopis, roughly translates to pharaoh’s flea guest. But like all pests, it must be eliminated though an environmentally benign process of integrated pest management (IPM).
  • Do realize the IPM process can be defined as inspecting and investigating; identifying; establishing threshold levels; implementing two or more control measures (cultural, physical, mechanical, biorational, and chemical); and evaluating effectiveness.
  • Don’t treat companion animals. A veterinarian should treat pets.
  • Do identify the flea’s species.
  • Don’t proceed to any intervention until interviewing the client to discover comparative and corroborative information. Find out where the pets spend most of their time.
  • Do facilitate a thorough interior environmental resource cleaning. You (or your client) can reduce the amount of flea pressure simply by using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum and then steam cleaning the carpet.
  • Don’t exclude outdoor areas from organizational cleanup. Facilitate efforts through the client for structural and landscaping maintenance.
  • Do conduct a detailed inspection and investigation to distinguish rodent pressures.
  • Don’t restrict interventions to just rodent proofing and manipulation of the available water, food, shelter and space.
  • Do integrate professional products, such as rodenticides, glue boards and other rodent control applications. As its common name indicates, where there are rat fleas, there are usually rats. pmp

Dr. Mitchell, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., B.C.E., a board-certified physician and entomologist, is principal technical specialist for PestWest Environmental, as well as PMP’s Technical Editor. He can be reached at or 515-333-8923.

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