An 'explosion' of flea infestations in houses within Durham, Middlesbrough and the wider North East have been reported by pest control groups, as they try and advise homeowners and renters about what to do if they're in the same position.

In recent weeks, Invicta Environmental, a pest control company based in County Durham, has noted a major increase in calls relating to fleas in the region.

The outbreak has affected communities such as Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, with households, social housing and public spaces experiencing a surge in flea populations.

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Norman Smith, managing director of Invicta Environmental, said: "The sudden spike in fleas raises concerns about public health and safety.

"Fleas are known carriers of diseases and can cause discomfort, allergic reactions, and in severe cases, transmit serious illnesses.

"Immediate action and education is required to address this issue and protect the well-being of the community."

The Northern Echo: A flea A flea (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Nationally, Rentokil Pest Control has said that flea infestations have increased by 47 per cent in a year, according to recent data , and the experts believe the unusual weather in 2023 could be the reason.

The country saw its warmest June since 1884 followed by above average rainfall in July, making this provisionally the wettest July since 2009.

Fleas thrive in moist, warm conditions – and the recent weather has created the perfect breeding conditions during what is often referred to as 'flea season'.

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Paul Blackhurst, head of technical academy at Rentokil Pest Control, said: “Fleas are a common household pest, particularly for those with pets. Seeing fleas jumping around can be alarming and their bites can cause an uncomfortable itch or a reactive rash, particularly around legs and ankles.

“Prevention of fleas is difficult as they usually enter properties on a pet, and then can quickly find refuge in carpets and bedding.

"They are able to jump long distances and move between pets and property with ease.

"There are 62 species of flea in the UK (the most common being the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis, each with different habits, which can make treating them difficult. They thrive in warm conditions, but their eggs can remain dormant for up to two years in colder temperatures and the larvae will emerge when the conditions are right.”