Nuisance wildlife pests can invade structures, cause significant damage and interfere with the quality of life for clients in urban, suburban and rural areas. But in addition to scratching noises and other unnerving bumps in the night, animals such as raccoons and opossums can also carry cat fleas into a building and leave them behind after they themselves have been evicted.
Raccoons and opossums are frequently infested with cat fleas, the most common flea to infest dogs and cats. In fact, research shows wildlife in urban areas have a higher incidence of cat flea infestation than in rural areas. As wildlife hosts move through yards and around the exteriors of buildings, they shed flea eggs into the environment. Most of the eggs that fall from wildlife don’t survive, but those that land in a suitable place might develop into larvae. Eventually, they find pets (or more wildlife) on which they can complete their life cycle.
Raccoons or opossums in a chimney flue, attic or crawlspace also might be a source of ongoing building infestations. Interior nesting locations are more likely to develop large populations of fleas because the host returns frequently, providing a steady source of food for developing larvae. After a successful removal of nuisance wildlife from a building, the remaining fleas will search for a new host, which often explains the mysterious appearance of fleas in structures where no pets are present.
Bottom line: If customers complain about recurring infestations or fleas whose arrival can’t be explained, carefully inspect the structure for a history of nuisance wildlife to avoid callbacks in the future.
You can reach Dr. Jim Fredericks, VP of technical and regulatory affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), at firstname.lastname@example.org.