Only adult fleas cause direct and indirect damage to cats. In case of direct damage, fleas bite and feed on the cat blood. While biting, fleas inject saliva that causes allergic reactions, itching and skin lesions. In case of indirect damage, fleas transmit diseases like murine typhus, Rickettsia typhi and cat scratch disease, Bartonella hensalae. Fleas also serve as intermediate host of disease causing parasites like subcutaneous filarid nematode of dogs, Dipetalonema reconditum and the double-pore tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum.
After emerging from pupae, adult fleas immediately jump on the cat’s body start feeding on the blood. Fleas then deposit eggs in the hair coat of cats. These eggs then fall off the hair coat in the area where cats generally sleeps or take rest. These eggs hatch into small larvae that start feeding on specks of dried blood, flea feces or debris. When these larvae become mature, they will move into cracks and crevices of floors or underneath the cat bed or outdoors and then pupate in silken cocoons. Adult fleas will emerge from pupae within a 10 days but they remain in the cocoon for several months until they sense warm temperature or the presence of host animals around them. Depending on the temperature, fleas can complete their life cycle within 20- 60 days.
Currently beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes including Steinernema carpocapsae has been used as an effective biological control agent to manage fleas. This beneficial nematodes nematodes is commercially available and can be applied at the rate of 2300 nematodes per square foot area covering cat’s resting place. Please read product description for its application method to target larval stages of fleas (see below).
Following beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes can control cat fleas organically