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Close Encounter of the Flea Kind
Many people have been bitten by the fleas, but only few have the chance to witness the fleas actually doing it. People find out only afterward by the telltale sign of a small red and itchy pimple on the skin, usually in the vicinity of the feet. The mark left by flea bite is not as bothersome as the mosquito sting and disappears after a few days. It becomes a problem when the quantity and occurrence increase. That is exactly what had happened to me. The following was my unforgettable and stressful encounter with the pesky fleas.
My past experience with the flea had been waking up one morning and finding a itchy red spot or two on the body mostly on the ankle area, occasionally, on the legs, thighs, or chest. Since the red spot did not get any bigger and went away in a few days, I never paid too much attention as to how I got it in the first place. Then, one hot summer day, everything changed. I woke up and found at least 10 red and itchy spots located randomly on both lower legs and feet. Since I went to see a movie the previous night, I concluded that they were caused by flea bites inside the theater auditorium as I was wearing only slipper without socks on my feet.
After several days, as some of the red spots had faded away, new ones popped up in the vicinity. I reasoned that they must be due to the same bites but with a delayed body reaction. After a week, as I was sitting in the living room, I happened to look at my bare feet and noticed a dark moving object about half the size of an ant. I reached down and touched with my finger. Before I could make contact, I saw the object jumped away and disappeared into the carpet. Immediately, I was alarmed to the fact that the carpet in the house was infected with the fleas.
First, I vacuumed the whole house. Second, I started to pay close attention to my feet and lower part of my legs. Not long later, as I was walking in the back yard patio (not enclosed) , I noticed a stationary dark spot about twice the size of an ant on my left leg about 6” above the ankle. Right away, I moist the tips of my index and thumb fingers with saliva and snatched the dark object between the two finger tips. I then released it in a cup of Isopropyl alcohol laced water. To my surprise, I saw a still struggling flea floating in the water. I put it out of its misery to prevent it from jumping out of the cup of water. In the following two days and using the same techniques, I caught and killed around 30 fleas in the yard usually in the early morning. After that, I decided to spray the yard with the common household insecticide. The effect was drastic as I caught only two fleas in a week.
Inside the house, it was another story. As I did not want to use the insecticide on the carpet, I had to be alerted all the time to keep a close eye on my legs as well as body. I also had to be discreet before entering the house making sure that I did not bring in any flea. Overall, I caught about 5 fleas inside the house in a week. At the end of the 4th week, I no longer detected any flea anywhere and the red spots on my legs and body had all disappeared. I reckon that it will be a while before I let my guard down.
From what I gather from the Internet, the tiny flea can jump a height of 7” and disappear into the surroundings in a flash. It needs to take blood from the other animals to survive. It seeks out its victim by vibrations and carbon dioxide emissions. The flea’s bite is just like that of the mosquito. The victim will not feel a thing. When the red spot is detected and the itch is felt, the flea has long gone. The only effective way to catch a flea on the body is to snatch it with the moist index and thumb finger tips. Do not try to look at it while it is still being pressed between the finger tips. Release it by dipping both finger tips into a cup of water laced with Isopropyl alcohol. A floating and struggling flea in the cup of water is the only evidence that a flea is successful trapped and terminated. If an area is found to be infested, the common household insecticide spray is effective in the flea’s eradication.
I have lived in the same house for many years and have no pets. I have no idea why, out of the blue, there was this flea infestation in the yard in that hot summer days.