Chemicals Used to Kill Stickfast Fleas

Shellie Braeuner

Stickfast fleas get their name from their behavior. Their heads stick into their hosts and are difficult to remove. According to the University of Florida, the tiny insects actually breathe through their back-end while their head is “stuck fast” in the host.

The fleas live the rest of their lives embedded in their host. Also known as sticktight fleas, the insects infest birds and animals all over the world.


Birds, cats and dogs all suffer from stickfast flea infestation. Stickfast fleas are visible on the bird’s head and wattle. During molt, stickfast fleas are visible under the wings or on the legs. Cats and dogs suffer from stick fast fleas. Since the fleas live in the earth during their larval stage, the insects tend to infest animals between the toe pads. To eradicate fleas, treat the animal and the environment.


Pyrethroids are a family of chemicals derived from the chrysanthemum. Pyrethrin, the most common chemical name, kills adult stickfast fleas and other insects. These chemicals have a low rate of toxicity on animals, which makes them safe to use on cats and larger birds. However, natural pyrethrins decay rapidly in sunlight and wash off easily. Synthetic pyrethrins, or permethrins resist light decay, remaining toxic to fleas longer. According to the Virginia-Maryland School of Veterinary Medicine, a permethrin concentration higher than 2 percent is toxic to cats. Pyrethrins and Permethrins are available in shampoo, flea powder and flea sprays.


Fipronel is another common treatment for stickfast fleas. Fipronel is the active ingredient in many of the monthly spot-type flea preventatives. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, fipronel spreads from the treatment spot through the animal’s skin oils. As the stickfast flea inserts its head into the animal’s skin, the flea ingests the fipronel and dies. The fipronel does not wash off once absorbed by the animal’s skin.

Oral Medication

Nitenpryram and Lufeneron are both oral stickfast flea medication. Nitenpryram is a quick-acting oral medication that begins to kill embedded fleas within 30 minutes. According to Dog Health, this medicine is safe enough to use on young animals. However, once the medicine passes out of the animal’s system, stickfast fleas may re-infect the animal. It is vital to treat the animal with a long-term treatment as well. Lufeneron, offers a long-term treatment in an oral medication. Lufeneron lasts longer in the animal’s body and slowly releases over a month. The chemical kills any stickfast flea that embed themselves in the animal’s skin. Both Nitenpryram and Lufeneron come in specifically formulas for different sized dogs, cats and birds.