What is a flea trap, and are they any use?
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What is a flea trap, and are they any use?

Every dog owner will almost certainly have a flea treatment and prevention protocol in place to ensure that both their pets and their homes are kept flea-free and pleasant to be in! For many owners, this mainly consists of using products that work on the dog itself, such as a flea collar, spot-on treatment, pill, spray or powder. However, if you know or suspect that your home itself is harbouring fleas, while such products can help to keep your dog flea-free, they will do very little to deal with the wider problem.

In such cases, household flea sprays, bombs or foggers are often used, but there is another option that not all dog owners are aware of: flea traps. In this article, we will look at flea traps in more detail, including how they work, what they are designed to do, and whether they are actually useful or not. Read on to learn more.

What is a flea trap?

A flea trap does exactly what the name suggests: it traps fleas for disposal, after first attracting them into the trap. There are a wide range of different types of commercial flea traps on the market, but they all work in a fairly similar way, which is as follows:

Fleas are attracted to sources of heat, and for dog fleas, they will actively head towards temperatures that are similar to the body temperature of the animal that they target. Flea traps usually use a light source to provide heat, commonly a small, low-powered bulb in the top of the unit.

In the base of the unit, directly under the source of heat will be a sticky pad or paper that works a lot like a fly paper, catching the fleas that head for the heat source and pinning them in place. Some of these pads are also impregnated with a chemical that kills fleas on the spot, although generally the idea is that the pads trap the fleas and you then dispose of the pad outside of the house.

Can you make a flea trap?

Commercial flea traps can be bought from a wide range of retailers, and while the variance in price can be quite considerable from brand to brand, they all follow the same basic principles outlined above. This means that if you have the time and inclination, you can actually make your own DIY flea trap at home, using materials that you likely already have to hand.

The basics of a flea trap are, as mentioned, a source of heat and light to attract fleas, and another material that traps or kills the fleas that head for the light.

All you will need is a small light source such as a desk lamp or even a floating candle (bear in mind that you should not leave a burning candle unattended, and so a trap made with a floating candle will not be suitable for overnight use) and something to trap the fleas, and the latter item is easier to make than you might suspect!

Using a shallow bowl or a deep plate, mix up a solution of plain water and washing up liquid, so that the subsequent mixture feels slightly soapy to the touch, but is not full of bubbles. This creates a membrane on the surface of the water that will trap any fleas that fall or jump into it, and stop them from getting back out again!

Then, either direct your desk lamp onto the surface of the bowl to attract the fleas, or place a floating candle in the middle of the bowl and light it.

Any fleas nearby will be attracted to the light and then get stuck in your washing up liquid solution, so that you can then dispose of them away from the home! Give the trap at least a few hours to work (or not) before you check back.

Are flea traps genuinely useful, or a waste of time?

When it comes to actively reducing or eliminating fleas in your home, a flea trap does not come in at the top of the list of the most effective methods. They only work within a small localised area (generally just the room that they are placed in) and also, not every flea that sees the light will fall for it!

Added to this, when it comes to household flea infestations, actual adult fleas that can move around on their own and that will be attracted to the light make up only around 5% of the total flea count of your home; the egg, larvae and pupae stages of flea development, none of which will be attracted to a flea trap, will account for the vast majority of the total flea count in your home.

However, if you are trying to work out whether or not you have a flea problem in your home in the first place, or want to know if your other attempts at eradicating household fleas are proving effective, a flea trap can come in useful.

While you may not be able to count exactly how many individual fleas end up in your trap within any given time period, you should be able to make rough estimates, and the drop in the number of fleas caught in the trap after you have used a flea removal product in your home should be quite pronounced, if the treatment has proven effective.

Ergo, a flea trap is best used as a monitoring tool to assess the effectiveness of other products, rather than being considered as an effective way of eradicating fleas in its own right.

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