Traditionally we think of fleas as hopping all about our socks and infesting our pets and for the most part that is correct. There are however over 2400 different kinds of fleas and the variety of nature didn’t pass them by. Sticktight fleas are about 1/2 the size of a cat or dog flea and mainly infest chickens or other farm type animals like other birds, goats, dogs, cats and even sometimes humans. They get their name because they spend their time actually attached or more correctly ‘burrowed’ into their host and don’t bother with the hopping around so much as their cousins do so well.
You’ll usually find the sticktight around the eyes of a chicken which can be very disconcerting, they look like little dark bumps and since they don’t run around you might pass them off as some kind of growth like a birth mark. They can congregate up to 100 or more and sometimes infections occur and even blindness for the helpless fowl. On humans they can also attack the head and mouth area which is really creepy when you try to pull that thing out.
Holometabolism- Fancy Word For Complete Life Cycle
The female ejects her eggs and they take about 2 weeks to hatch in the soil or litter below. The larvae complete their life cycle, pupate and emerge as adults about 2 weeks later. Sticktights live in the soil and just hop around freely until mating and the female will then attach to the host and the process starts again. It’s very difficult to remove the sticktight flea and pulling them with tweezers might cause more harm than good but you can do it. Some suggest to put petroleum jelly on the exposed fleas and this suffocates them but even then they may remain attached for several weeks before they finally drop off.
How To Get Rid Of Sticktight Fleas
Treatment for this flea should be done at the soil level. Insecticidal sprays or powders will work but remember you’re dealing with animals in contact with the surface you are treating so I wouldn’t recommend that unless you can keep the animals off the area for an extended period of time. If possible keep the ground dry and this will go along way to retarding the development but in a barnyard that’s also hard to do. Food grade DE (diatomaceous earth) will do an excellent job on the larvae in the soil. Not an insecticide per se but the sharp micro particles will act to ‘cut’ up the larvae and adults still on the ground without harming the birds or animals. Spread the DE over the surface and even rake it in slightly but you may need several applications since DE doesn’t fair well when it gets wet. Not super heavy and you should be fine. Another alternative for chickens anyway, is to ‘raise the floor’ by elevating the birds using chicken wire for flooring. 3 feet is recommended and this should eliminate the flea from coming in contact with the chicken. Not sure if they make goat wire:) Other suggestions might be to separate the animals with the fleas to stop them from spreading and some consider removing the top inch or two of soil as a way to physically take out any eggs, larvae or adults.
Highly Toxic To Fish And Birds
I read a lot of forum posts where people use insecticide such as Sevin powder or Malathion sprays directly on the animals or inside where they live and I think that’s crazy. Read almost any label and you’ll find a warning that such and such a product is HIGHLY TOXIC to fish and birds. They use canaries in coal mines remember? This notice isn’t on there to just take up space. If you’re raising the animal for food or to be processed in any way I don’t see direct pesticide application to their body as a smart thing to do. If you’re still having problems down the road check with a Veterinarian and get something approved for use on the animal.