Industry News

Why flea jobs fail: 16 factors contributing to callbacks

Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.

A single bite from a flea after a treatment means you did not eliminate all the stages of flea development in a structure. From experience, I can think of 16 different reasons the job may have failed no matter how many times the pest management professional (PMP) came back to treat. Use this list to pinpoint things you may have overlooked so you can avoid costly callbacks.

Challenges to eliminating fleas

  1. The customer never had fleas to begin with — it was a different pest altogether
  2. You went after the wrong species, such as fleas from a bat
  3. An opossum or raccoon was living in the attic or crawl space
    1. If you are not certified for wildlife pest management, find a company that is to get the job done
  4. Wildlife visits your customer’s exterior garbage cans or pet food dish and brings fleas that transfer to their pet
    1. If the customer doesn’t have a pet, fleas can jump to the customer and enter their house
  5. You missed a critical location where the household pet sleeps or rests inside or outside the house
  6. Fleas are passed to the customer’s cat from other cats in the area
    1. Fleas can even pass through screened areas
  7. The fleas are in a location the customer never suspected, and you missed it
  8. A weak vacuum cleaner does not properly pick up all flea larvae
  9. The fleas escaped from the vacuum cleaner bag
    1. When finished vacuuming, place a small teaspoon of corn starch on the floor and vacuum it up; the dust storm should finish off the fleas
  10. Individuals are bringing fleas home from work
  11. You forgot to check the homeowners’ vehicles
  12. When brushing fleas off their pets with a flea comb, the customer tried to squeeze the flea and it jumped away
  13. The customer’s veterinarian never treated their pet with flea prevention
  14. The lawn and exterior were not treated
  15. The flea population in your area is chemically resistant to the product you used or the veterinarian's product
  16. A follow-up visit is required because of the severity of the flea population in the structure and no second treatment was ever scheduled

All 16 reasons are unlikely to occur in a single job. However, this list makes it easier to find causes of an unsatisfactory result and quickly remedy the problem.

As a final bonus tip, keep an accurate record of who is trained and has experience for each type of pest situation.


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