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Published on April 29th, 2013 | by Debbie Martin


Will Fipronil Help You Destroy Your Flea Enemies?

Owning pets can be a wonderful experience.  They can bring a lot of joy and happiness into your life.  However furry pets can also bring fleas, which are not so wonderful.  Fleas are a real pest and once they have infested your home they can be very difficult to get rid of.  There are some powerful flea treatments on the market these days such as Fipronil.  However the real question is does this actually work and can fleas become resistant over time?

What is Fipronil?

Fipronil is a powerful insecticide that has been widely used since the 1990’s.  This product is available as a white powder or liquid (for ‘spot on’ treatments) and can be used to kill insects such as fleas, ticks, ants, weevils and cockroaches. Fipronil has proved to be a highly successful treatment against fleas with an impressive 95% success rate when it comes to killing adult fleas.  This success rate has meant that Fipronil has become an incredibly popular flea treatment and there are now over 50 different brand name products containing this chemical.

Fipronil works by disrupting the natural function of the central nervous system in fleas when ingested.  This chemical is highly toxic to insects but relatively harmless in small doses to animals and humans.  This means you can treat pets with Fipronil so that it is present in their blood.  Then when adult fleas feed from your pets they will instantly ingest the Fipronil and in most cases will die within 24 hours.  This has proved to be a highly effective way to eradicate adult fleas and keep your pets free of these unpleasant biting creatures.

Does it Work on Ticks?

Another benefit of Fipronil is that it has been shown to be effective on another common parasite that can affect pets; ticks.  Once again the chemical works when ingested by insects feeding on your pet.  Once the tick has ingested the Fipronil in most cases it will die and drop off within 48 hours.  Unfortunately this is not entirely successful in preventing tick-borne disease as the parasites will have already fed from your pets.  However this is very successful at controlling ticks and preventing them from infesting domestic environments.

Will Fleas Become Resistant?

One of the main problems with successful insecticide treatments is that over time and with regular use some species can become resistant. The flea problem in the UK remains persistent despite nationwide use of flea treatments like Fipronil.  There have been some questions raised as to whether fleas may now be developing a resistance to Fipronil.  However research has shown that Fipronil is still a highly effective flea killer that can still achieve a 95% success rate when used properly.  This suggests that other factors than potential resistance are to blame for the UK flea problem such as:

  • Plentiful Food Source – the UK is pet-mad and there are plenty of healthy animals for fleas to feed from.
  • Mild Winters – the recent spate of mild winters has failed to control ticks and fleas between breeding seasons and so numbers are rising.
  • Central Heating – warm, centrally heated homes offer the perfect haven for fleas during cold weather.
  • Lack of Treatment – the simple fact is that many people do not treat their pets for fleas.  This triggers cycles of infestation in domestic environments that are not controlled and so flea numbers increase year after year.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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