flea

Calls to pest controllers surged in the first three months of the year, with reports of fleas up by 198 per cent on the same period in 2018 and of flies by 120 per cent (stock image)
Fleas and flies are normally a blight of the summer but infestations have begun early this year because of climate change, according to experts.

Calls to pest controllers surged in the first three months of the year, with reports of fleas up by 198 per cent on the same period in 2018 and of flies by 120 per cent.

The blame has been laid on milder winters allowing the insects to emerge earlier to breed.

This February was the warmest on record, according to the Met Office, with temperatures soaring as high as 20C.

David Cross, head of Rentokil's technical training academy, said: 'There's been a sharp increase in the number of flea and fly inquiries out of season - they are coming out much earlier than we would expect.

'Looking at averages for the first quarter of the past five years, evidence suggests our warmer climate is having an impact on insect breeding seasons and is likely to be the cause for increased calls.'

Some fly species use homes as dry places to hide over the winter months before re-emerging in the spring.

Warmer conditions also mean food and household waste decompose faster, creating ideal conditions for house flies and their larvae.

Fleas, meanwhile, typically live outside and far fewer have been killed off by our recent mild winters, said Mr Cross.

He added: 'With cats and dogs spending more time outside in the warmer weather, it's likely that increased numbers of these insects were brought back into the home.

'This pest can be difficult to treat as any fleas found on the host - human and animal - typically represent five per cent of the total flea population nearby. The other 95 per cent will be in bedding, carpets and furniture.'