How Long Do Fleas Live? Everything You Need to Know About
Fleas are not uncommon to pet owners. They are seen in (especially unkempt) environments where you can find cats, dogs or even birds. Before we answer the FAQ: how long do fleas live, asked by people, especially pet owners, we’ll try to go deep into the morphology, taxonomy, ecology and the life cycle of these pests.
And in the end, we’ll see the various flea control and treatment methods.
Now let’s dive straight into business!
How long do fleas live: Index of contents
- What are the fleas like?
- Morphology of the fleas
- Taxonomy and evolutionary history
- Scientific classification of the flea
- Most notable characteristics
- Effects of flea infestations in hosts
- Direct relations with the human being
- Pioneer studies on fleas
- Flea Life Cycle and Development
- How Long Do Fleas Live Generally?
- How long do fleas live without a host
- How long do fleas live on humans?
- How long do fleas live without food?
- How long do fleas live after the bombing
- How long do fleas live in your house?
- How to know if you have fleas at home
- Flea and eggs
- How to get rid of fleas – Complete guide
What are the fleas like?
The flea is a small but wingless blood-sucking insect that most often embeds in the fur of animals.
However, despite its size, it can be perfectly visible to the naked eye. Because it can carry various diseases, it is a real harmful parasite.
Fleas represent the order Siphonaptera (Greek for Sophos = siphon or tube and Aptera = without wings). They are small dark-colored insects that do not fly. They are external parasites (ectoparasites).
The adult fleas thrive mostly on mammalian blood, although some species have birds as their host.
Usually, the interaction is specific, that is, certain species of fleas only parasitize certain groups of mammals. There are species for bat, dog, cat, man, and so on.
Occasionally, pet fleas also suck human blood. In fact, the pestilence-plague that killed 1/3 of the European population in the fourteenth century, is transmitted by the rat flea, when infected by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.
The body of the fleas, which is usually 3 millimeters long, is laterally compressed and lined with a smooth integument.
These characteristics facilitate the movement between the host animal’s hair or feathers. It attaches to the skin through its strong claws.
They have long hind legs, used to jump, making them one of the best jumpers in the Animalia kingdom. Organisms of the order Siphonaptera are wingless and have mouthpieces adapted to puncture the skin and suck the blood of the host.
How many flea species are there? More than 3000 species of fleas have been described worldwide. The order Siphonaptera is a sister group of the order Mecoptera, being inserted into the superorder Endopterygota or Holometabola.
And how long have these parasites been in existence? Fleas have been around for at least 60 million years. They are the oldest fossil specimen found in amber off the Baltic Sea and dating back to the Tertiary period, specifically the Eocene.
Humans and fleas are long known. In addition to being vectors of disease-causing bacteria, such as the aforementioned Yersinia pestis (cause of bubonic plague) and Rickettsia typhi (cause of typhus), fleas affect cats (Ctenocephalides felis felis) and dogs (Ctenocephalides canis), frequent companions of man.
In addition, the species Pulex irritans has humans as its host. And its bite can cause skin inflammation, redness, and itching.
Also, the female of the species Tunga penetrans, the scientific name of the “toe”, usually enters human’s skin, usually in the foot. Apparently, it does this to start sucking blood, which may result in tetanus or gangrenous infection.
Morphology of the fleas
Like all insects, fleas have a basic anatomical division into the head, thorax, and abdomen. However, this division is not very well defined for these organisms, since the head is separated from the chest by only one suture (a “thread”).
Fleas are very small insects. Generally, they range in size from 2 to 4 millimeters in length in adults and have their bodies compressed laterally – making it easy to walk between the host’s hair.
Also, they have a very developed abdomen. They are insects that do not have wings, and that have in their body several thick and short bristles, and thorns turned back forming a kind of comb, characteristics that also facilitate the locomotion in the host. These “combs” are called a pecten.
They have two short antennae housed in head grooves, sucking mouth braces (3 piercing stylets), and may or may not have eyes. Its 3 pairs of legs are elongated, being the last responsible for the characteristic jumps.
Generally, female fleas are larger than males and have the more rounded end of the abdomen where the spermathecae are housed. The spermatheca (sperm reservoir organ in the back of the female’s abdomen) of fleas is used for group recognition.
The head may be divided into the anterior part (forehead or clip) and posterior part (occiput or occipid) by an ”interconnecting” frontal suture of the lateral sutures of the head, where the short antennae (antenal suture) are housed.
The antennas are composed of 3 segments: the scape, pedicel, and flagella or club, the latter being further subdivided into two flagellomeres. Occiput bristles are generally used in the taxonomy of species.
Oftentimes, the eyes on these insects are reduced to an “eye spot” or are absent.
Meanwhile, the lower part of the head, known as the gena, can carry a structure called the genal ctenid. Its buccal apparatus is of the Picador-Sucador type (the order receives the name Siphonaptera by the way that they feed with the “siphon” or tube, and by the absence of wings) and is formed in pairs by jaws, lacinias (simple or serrated), palpations and jaws, and by a single labro-epipharynx.
The stinging organs are the epipharynx and the internal lobes of the maxillary lacinias. These structures are organized so that the mouthpiece is pointed downwards, and this arrangement is called hypognathic.
The thorax of all insects is divided into 3 segments, and from each of them depart a pair of appendages, which in the case of fleas, are their 6 legs.
The anterior part is called the prothorax. Meanwhile, the medial part is the mesothorax. And the one directly linked to the abdomen is the metathorax. The dorsal region of these segments is called pronoto, mesonoto, and metanoto, respectively.
Appendages attached to the metathorax are the most important from the taxonomic point of view, as they are the largest legs responsible for the jump.
All legs have symmetrical or asymmetrical bristles and nails. These 3 segments are reduced in penetrating or semi-penetrating fleas.
The legs are subdivided into the thigh, trochanter (small segment between thigh and femur), femur, tibia, and tarsus.
There are always 5 articles composing the tarsus, the tarsomeres. The last tarsomere is called a distitarsomer. The fourth tarsal article is always the shortest. However, between species, the lengths of all varieties.
Taxonomy and evolutionary history
For many years, the Siphonaptera order was a puzzle to taxonomists. Because these insects are adapted almost exclusively to parasitic life, the defining its taxonomy is very difficult, since species of this order have a very similar ecology and morphology.
Their presence on all continents, from Antarctica to the Arctic supports the conclusion that their evolutionary history and lineages are very old. However, there is a tendency for species to be concentrated in colder climates.
For the construction of the phylogenetic trees of the groups within the Insecta class, in addition to molecular data (genomic and mitochondrial DNA), general morphological characteristics of the group are used. At the species level, classification is usually based on the reproductive apparatus.
In Siphonaptera, the following characteristics are used for classification:
- Presence of suture or sclerotized suture trace, which divides the anterior and posterior part of the head. When sclerotized, the suture is called flax.
- Size, number, and shape of occipital bristles.
- Type of mouthpiece.
- Types of gonads (sex organs).
- Disposition of spiracles in the epimer (a posterior division of the insect’s pleura).
- Body coloring.
- Spine-shaped bristles on the thighs.
- Mesocoxas with complete or incomplete fracture lines.
- Variation in the number and arrangement of bristles in the posterior dorsal notches of the metatibia.
- Tarsomer length – Comparison maybe for all legs.
- Robustness, length, and location of tarsal bristles.
- Abdominal ctenidia; the number of bristles varying in sternite II and many others.
Due to the aforementioned high degree of specialization in ectoparasite life, resulting in a unique morphology, the researcher had great difficulty sustaining any phylogenetic relationship of sister groups with the order Siphonaptera.
Even so, through comparative studies of reproductive structures and body morphology, it was suggested that Siphonaptera and Mecoptera were sister groups. Subsequently, molecular studies confirmed this relationship.
While studies confirm that the order Strepsiptera is inserted into the superorder of Holometabols, its position in the phylogeny is still discussed.
The relationship between Siphonaptera and Mecoptera was confirmed by a study published in 2014, which attempts to reaffirm this relationship by gathering several articles on molecular data (DNA extraction and PCR technique) and morphological data on different species of fleas and scorpionflies. This compilation of molecular data still cannot support complete phylogeny between flea families.
About 310 are known genres and subgenres or distributed in 15 families (some consider 16)
The family that seems to be better supported, having its monophilia strongly confirmed by research in the area, is Ceratophyllida. However, the lack of taxonomic studies leaves the other families poorly supported.
Although there is no consensual phylogeny of the Siphonaptera families, a survey published in 2008 that analyzed 4 gene loci (18S and 28S of ribosomal DNA, cytochrome oxidase II, and 1-alpha elongator factor) defined 128 flea species. relations.
The genealogical trees generated by the analyzes show the Tungidae family as the basal group and sister group of all the other fleas. Families monophyletic as Pygiopsillidae, Stephanocircidae, Rhopalopsyllidaewere sustained. Pulicidae and Chaimaeropsyllidae are sister groups and form a monophyletic clade. Another monophyletic clade is named Ceratophyllomorpha, containing Ischnopsyllidae, Ceratophyllidae, and the paraphyletic group Leptopsyllidae.
Now before we move on, how about we see its scientific classification?
Scientific classification of the flea
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Arthropoda
Subphylum – Hexapoda
Class – Insecta
Subclass – Pterygote
Infraclass – Neoptera
Superorder – Neuropteride
Order – Siphonaptera
The order Siphonaptera has many ecological relationships in a great diversity with other animal groups. Most flea species are mammalian parasites, and among these parasites, there is a remarkable preference for rodents. The development of the flea larval phase, which occurs in the host’s nest or habitat, is very sensitive to the host’s temperature, humidity and visiting flow conditions.
After pupal development, the emerging individual may delay this process by remaining quiescent. Metabolism is reduced and food intake can be ceased for up to about 6 months. However, its inactivity stops quickly if a possible host is detected nearby.
Some species of fleas have a sedentary lifestyle and are very specific in their choice of host. These species have the low jumping capacity. Also, they have poorly developed eyes. In addition, the adults can withstand up to about 10 months of fasting due to the large body fat.
Sedentary species usually parasitize birds that return to the same nest annually. In contrast, other species of fleas have a nomadic habit. Fleas jump long distances, have well-developed eyes and are capable of parasitizing many hosts.
Most notable characteristics
The most notable feature of fleas is their jumping ability. They have rear appendages adapted to perform this movement. They are capable of reaching heights of up to 18 cm and horizontal distances up to 33 cm.
These jumps are not only generated by muscle strength as such animals have a protein called resilin on their hind legs. This protein stores elastic energy generated by the movement of the paws at the beginning of the jump, which occurs as follows: the flea joins its hind legs and moves them closer to the medians until the femur is almost vertical.
Moments before the jump, the front, and middle legs are moved, moderately raising the front of the animal.
There is a mechanism that accumulates energy until the moment before the jump and generates an instantaneous release of extremely high force.
The thrust force combined with the rigid cuticle of the flea exoskeleton generates the characteristic thrust of this group. When descending, they open their paws as a means of partial control over the landing site.
Pioneer studies on fleas
In 1665, the English scientist Robert Hooke (1635-1703), after developing the compound microscope, drew small organisms observed through the tool and published the book Micrographia. Among the drawings was the engraving of a flea, never before drawn in such detail.
Years later, in 1680 the Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, this time using a single-lens microscope, designed the development of a flea from egg to adult.
About two centuries later, English banker and entomologist Charles Rothschild (1877-1923) contributed to the human understanding of the Siphonaptera order by creating a large collection of fleas, now preserved at the Natural History Museum in London.
Rothschild’s collection contained about 260,000 specimens, which he described and named around 500, including the Xenopsylla cheopis, also known as the rat flea, responsible for the transmission of bubonic plague.
Effects of flea infestations in hosts
Differences in temperature, altitude, latitude, relative humidity, or other climatic factors of the host nest influence the distribution, number of eggs, and host-flea associations.
Studies of species distribution of Siphonaptera show that there is a preference of certain species over an altitude range, or the prevalence of some species over others varying with local temperature.
In dogs and cats, chronic flea infestation causes allergic dermatitis, the most common skin disease among domestic animals whose symptoms are severe itching, which causes great discomfort to animals to the point where they are injured through intense scratching and licking. These symptoms are caused by the inoculation of antigenic material from the flea salivary glands.
Also, severe infestations cause anemia in the hosts, especially in young people.
In addition to allergic dermatitis, fleas transmit the most common intestinal parasite among dogs, the helminth Dipylidium caninum, which causes dipylidiosis.
Symptoms of this disease only manifest themselves in severe infections, which cause inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, diarrhea, colic, reduced appetite, and consequent weight loss.
However, in more severe cases, neurological manifestations and intestinal obstruction may occur.
Direct relations with the human being
The naturally occurring cosmopolitan Pulex irritans flea species has a broad spectrum of hosts, including Homo sapiens.
Due to the large number of species it infects, the human flea, as it is popularly known, represents a large part of the fleas found in rural and urban areas.
In a study in Madagascar, for example, 98% of these ectoparasites found inside monitored houses were Pulex irritans.
Human flea bites can cause pain, irritation, and itching. The bite site may turn red, swollen and even bleed. However, for people with a predisposition, the onset of allergic dermatitis is possible. Studies have shown that P. irritans is also capable of carrying the bacterium causing bubonic plague, as well as the causative bacterium of typhus.
Effects of the footwork
The toe, popular name of the species Tunga penetrans, of the Tungidae family, is the causative agent of Tungiasis.
Such disease is characterized by the female’s entry into the skin of the host, which may be the human’s foot, which because of this, names the species.
Insect accommodation in the foot causes nail deformations and edema. Also, it may cause pain and cracks in the skin, causing difficulties in walking.
The foot worm still presents additional health risks to the host, as it has the potential to lead to the proliferation of bacteria causing a secondary infection. gas gangrene and tetanus, as well as the fungus that causes blastomycoses.
Black Plague. London 1665
Between 1346 and 1353, approximately ⅓ of the European population perished due to the Black Death. This pandemic was caused by humans living with Rattus rattus mice carrying Xenopsylla cheopis fleas infected with Yersinia pestis.
Once in contact with rats, the human could be bitten by the infected fleas, contracting the plague. It is important to mention that the bacterium Y. pestis is capable of causing, through the fleas, three types of conditions: pneumonic plague, septicemic plague, and bubonic plague.
In addition to the already mentioned 14th-century pandemic, several epidemics caused by Y. pestis struck mankind, such as in Paris and Rouen in the mid-15th century; London in 1655 and 1722; Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Russia in the mid-nineteenth century and Indonesia in 1959.
Meanwhile, mankind has already developed efficient antibiotics to fight the plague, which continues to punctually create epidemics through the bite of infected fleas.
The murine typhus, also known as endemic typhus, is a disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia Typhi.
It has similar but milder symptoms than the epidemic typhus, ie, high and lasting fever, headache, mental confusion, nausea, pain and red spots on the body.
This bacterium infects the aforementioned fleas of the species Xenopsylla cheopis, which have mice as their hosts.
Although preferentially interacting with mice, such ectoparasites can suck the blood of humans. If contaminated with the bacteria, these fleas can infect the new host, which will develop the murine typhus.
Flea Life Cycle and Development
Fleas are holometabolic insects. That is, they complete metamorphosis, going through four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and imago.
However, in most species, female and male fleas are not fully mature when they emerge from the pupa. And they need to feed on blood before they become fertile.
The first blood-feeding activates ovarian maturation in females and dissolution of the testicular plug in males, enabling subsequent copulation.
Meanwhile, some species reproduce year-round. While others synchronize their activities with the host life cycle or local environmental factors and weather conditions.
Generally, flea populations consist of 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupa and 5% adults.
The number of eggs laid depends on the species. And this ranges from two to several dozens. The total number of eggs produced in a female’s life span (fertility) ranges from 100 to several thousand.
In some species, the flea lives in the nest or is buried and the flea eggs are buried in a substrate. Thanks to their sticky texture, their eggs can hold onto their host, but can sometimes fall to the ground.
Because of this, areas where the host rests and sleeps become one of the primary egg and larval development habitats. The eggs take about two days to two weeks to hatch.
Experiments have shown that a female flea can lay more eggs in hosts with low food intake and that eggs and larvae survive better under these conditions, perhaps because the host’s immune system is compromised.
After approaching a host (a domestic animal) and feeding on its blood, the adult female flea can manage to lay around twenty eggs a day. Its eggs are oval in shape and gray or pearly in color.
For the environment of flea eggs to be adapted to their development and favorable to their hatching, there must be a certain humidity level. Indeed, fleas cannot hatch if the humidity is less than 50%. The same is true for temperature since, whatever the stage of development of the insect, it cannot survive below 0°C.
When the eggs hatch, a sort of larva emerges which measures approximately 1.5 millimeters.
Flea larvae emerge from eggs to feed on any available organic material such as dead insects, feces, other eggs, and plant matter.
To ensure its survival and promote its development, this larva must remain in a dark, warm and dry corner. If it has remained attached to its host after its release, it has the possibility of feeding on organic waste or the remains of its feces.
In laboratory studies, some dietary diversity seems necessary for proper larval development. Blood-only diets allow only 12% of larvae to mature, while blood and yeast or dog food diets allow almost all larvae to mature.
Also, another study showed that 90% of larvae become adults when the diet includes unviable eggs.
Their larvae are blind and avoid sunlight, staying in dark, damp places such as sand or dirt, cracks, and crevices, under rugs and bedding.
However, in the event that the flea larva is found in another environment after laying, it must protect itself from the sun. It does this by becoming encrusted in the dust, grains of sand or inside organic debris.
It transforms in 7 to 18 days after hatching and makes a silk cocoon inside which it will pass to the next stage of its life cycle.
Given an adequate amount of food, the larvae become pupae and weave the silk cocoons after three larval stages.
10 days after hibernating in its cocoon, it turns brown. It can stay there for several weeks (up to 150 days) to survive changes in temperature and humidity in its environment.
During this phase, the flea is more resistant to insecticides thanks to the protection of its cocoon. It only leaves it when it is likely to find a host or an environment favorable to its survival.
Inside the cocoon, the larva changes and morphs into adult form. This may only take four days or may take longer if bad conditions exist.
Then this is followed by a stage of varying duration. During this time, the pre-emerging adult awaits appropriate conditions to hatch.
Triggers for this emergency include vibration (including sound), heat (in warm-blooded hosts) and high levels of carbon dioxide. However, all of these stimuli may indicate the presence of a possible host.
A large number of preemergent fleas may be present in flea-free environments. However, introducing a host may trigger a mass appearance of fleas.
This state allows fleas to invade their environment in numbers, given the robustness of their cocoon. By gently emerging from their shell to conquer a new habitat, fleas can emerge at the same time, causing a massive invasion of places of habitation.
The adult flea
Finally, the flea is said to be adult when it completely frees itself from its cocoon.
Once the flea reaches adulthood, its main goal is to find blood and then reproduce.
Specifically, males and females of the cat flea fresh from the pupa is very similar and will differentiate as they grow.
The ideal temperatures for the cycle of a flea are 21 to 30°C and the ideal humidity is 70%. This means if you would like to stop the production, reduce or exterminate the population of these insects, among other treatments, you can raise or lower the temperature beyond or below this range.
A female flea can lay 5,000 eggs or more over their lifetime, allowing for a rapid increase in growth.
The amount of fleas that reach adulthood is very small compared to a large number of eggs a female lays. The flea survives by the great reproductive capacity and the close relationship of the flea with its host, as well as the environment in which the host lives.
So, given some favorable environmental factors, larger numbers of fleas will reach adulthood, and a flea infestation may occur.
Also, fleas do not really live long. In general, adult fleas only live for as long as around two to three months.
However, without a host to provide a blood meal, a flea’s life can be reduced to just a few days. Under ideal conditions of temperature, food, and humidity, adult fleas can live for as long as up to a year and a half.
Fully developed adult fleas can live for several months without eating.
We’ll see more on how long the fleas live in subsequent sections of the article.
How Long Do Fleas Live Generally?
Fleas usually live for as long as about 50 days. Although some factors may increase or decrease their life expectancy such as temperature or humidity in the environment. Still, the rapid reproduction of fleas means that despite suffering unfavorable conditions, they can live between 2 and 14 days without feeding.
How long do fleas live without a host?
How long do fleas live outside a dog or cat? The answer to this question is much more complex than it seems. And in order to understand it better, it was necessary to see first the flea life cycle. Fleas need a certain temperature and humidity conditions for proper development, as earlier explained. These are usually achieved in the warm months. But when inside our homes, to live, then need idyllic conditions throughout the year. So it is recommended not to let your guard down with deworming.
Eggs in the soil develop in slits, carpets, etc. And, in a few days in optimal conditions, they become larvae in the soil, avoiding light and feeding on skin debris, organic matters or droppings of adult fleas, which we can visualize as small black balls.
If we wet them, we will see that they are composed of digested blood. The larvae, after several stages, become pupae. They are capable of surviving more than 6 months in the environment until they find an animal to climb on, even being resistant to insecticides. However, once out of the cocoon or pupal, they die in a few days if they fail to feed.
As we see, in addition to taking into account how long fleas live, we must be aware of what all its vital phases in the environment resist in order to achieve complete eradication. The flea cycle highlights the importance of deworming. Therefore, deworm your pet following the veterinarian’s instructions.
How long do fleas live on humans?
How long do fleas live in the human body? Fleas can also feed on our blood, so if they do not find an animal host to jump on, it is not surprising that they choose us. Now, how long can fleas live in our bodies?
Well, the answer is equal to the information provided on the life expectancy of dog fleas and cat fleas.
Read more: Best Flea Treatment for Dogs
Thus, although they can live more than 100 days, when they are detected, their life is reduced to a maximum of 1 week, depending on what it takes us to identify them and the effectiveness of the treatment. Meanwhile, they may die almost immediately provided you use the flea treatment prescribed by specialists.
How long do fleas live without food?
Fleas can survive and live for a long time in an environment where there is no food. In fact, the pre-emerged fleas can live for as long as 155 days without a blood meal while still in their cocoons. They do this by entering a dormant state.
Meanwhile, fleas detached from their hosts will definitely die in four days due to starvation. Younger ones can, however, live up to a week.
However, hungry fleas can attack the man if there is no dog or cat around.
How long do fleas live after a bombing
There are some flea bombs that are advertised as treatments that exterminate forever.
However, that’s definitely untrue. Fleas can return months or even weeks after activating a flea bomb.
To answer the question: how long do fleas live after spraying, it is important to note that fleas will die in just some days once the room is sprayed. However, it is not advisable to sweep, wash or vacuum the sprayed room so the spray can continue working on the eggs, ensuring they don’t hatch.
However, imidacloprid-based treatments kill under 24 hours.
Recommended: what to cover when bug bombing
How long do fleas live in your house?
If they are not disturbed and live with no blood meal, fleas can survive for more than 3 months (over 100 days). However, their females will not lay until they have their first blood meal. After this, they’ll start laying in about 36 to 48 hours following the blood meal.
How to know if you have fleas at home
Do you have fleas at home? This is a fairly common problem for pet owners. Dogs and cats become the prey of fleas while they play in the garden or by contact with other animals. And then, they bring them home, where they nest and can become a real headache, especially if you have kids around.
Whether or not you have animals at home, it is possible to have a flea infestation in your home. Fleas can jump on your clothes when you walk along the street and settle in your home without your being aware of it. In a few weeks they will have reproduced so much that you will no longer have some fleas, but a flea plague.
Once inside our home, fleas spread everywhere as their larvae hide in dark places, and their diet is based on any other organic matter. In addition, it is extremely difficult to detect to know if you have a flea problem.
As explained, the flea is the little jumping insects without wings that on the blood of mammals and birds. There are several species, but the most common are those that infest dogs and cats. And although they show a preference to hide among the hairs of animals, they have no problem feeding on the blood of humans or any mammal that is at its reach.
The most common way to know if you have fleas at home is through the pecks you will see on your body. Unlike mosquitoes that only bite once to feed, flea bites are usually in groups of three. That is, if you see three bites in your body relatively close to each other, it is a most likely flea and not a mosquito. Their bites appear as small red dots surrounded by a halo in groups of three or four. They are very stinging and, although they can appear on any part of the body, the most common is that they do so in the area of the ankles or legs.
Another way to detect them is simply by observing. You can find fleas hopping around your beddings or on your pet in your home. We can’t always find fleas jumping on the animal’s skin. That does not mean that you are exempt from the problem since, during its life cycle, the flea goes through four distinct phases and it is estimated that only 5% of fleas are in adulthood at a given time. A clear symptom is small piles of white and dark particles at the base of the hairs. White is its eggs, while dark ones, more abundant, are its bowel movements.
Specks on pet’s fur or beddings
Did you see some mysterious specks on your beddings, dog or cat’s skin that looks like pepper and salt? This is another way to detect fleas on your pets as it indicates flea feces. See it as a red flag!
Is your dog scratching excessively?
Another factor that can indicate the presence of fleas is your own dog. Fleas prefer to feed on dogs and cats rather than humans. Is your pet scratching excessively to the point that the skin becomes red and loses hair? In dogs, the preferred area is the hindquarters, while in cats, they are the head and neck. So if your dog scratches a lot constantly it is very likely to have a flea.
Adult fleas die within a week if they cannot feed. But flea eggs and larvae can last for many months without dying. Even if you think there are no fleas, there may be eggs and larvae waiting for the right time to begin to develop and expand throughout your home.
You can also correctly discover the infestation of fleas in your home by checking on your pets.
Fleas and eggs
Fleas, in addition to being disturbing and unpleasant, reproduce very quickly. Also, in order to fight a possible infestation, it is important to know how to get rid of flea eggs.
In this section, we’ll see:
- Characteristics of a flea egg
- How to identify flea eggs?
- How to get rid of flea eggs?
Characteristics of a flea egg
When you have animals, it’s important to be on the lookout for fleas and their eggs. It is not only when we identify adult fleas that we must intervene. The preventive treatments are fundamental to prevent the spread of these ectoparasites.
The most common flea species are cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) and human (Pulex irritans).
Female fleas can lay up to 8 eggs after each meal and up to 25 a day. Throughout their life, they will lay between 1000 and 5000 eggs. Their development cycle between the time of laying and the appearance of an adult flea can range from 12 to 174 days. In fact, temperature and humidity strongly influence the incubation and growth of fleas.
A flea egg will allow the birth of a 1 to 2 mm larva that can move. It will molt twice, grow, and, after being covered with dust, organic debris or fibers, weave a cocoon.
It is only after this pupa stage that the larva will turn into an adult flea. Depending on the thermohygrometric conditions, it can emerge from it days or months later. The flea will indeed wait for the most favorable moment to finalize its development cycle.
It is therefore very important to know how to get rid of flea eggs during a flea infestation. This will ensure the complete elimination of the adult fleas but also the eggs, larvae, and nymphs and thus avoid a return of the parasites after a while.
How to identify flea eggs?
A flea egg is about 0.5 mm long. And it is cylindrical. Its ends are rounded and it is whitish in color, almost transparent. Smooth in appearance, it has a rather sticky but non-adhesive texture which implies that it can fall from the coat or skin of its host.
This is where an infestation can start. Indeed, flea eggs can represent the largest population of fleas in an infestation: 90% of fleas during an infestation are actually flea eggs. So, why should you be chasing just some few ones you see around when, actually, you have thousands more brooding somewhere else?
Dog flea egg and cat flea egg are similar and the same goes for all flea larvae. Since flea eggs are not adhesive, they can fall very easily wherever your pets go.
The sleeping places are therefore to be checked; as well as carpets, baseboards, cracks in the parquet or under furniture.
The larvae that hatch from the eggs will be able to move and go to stay in protected places. They will gradually go from 1 to 2 cm to almost 5 cm in a few days.
However, they cannot climb vertically and avoid light. It is therefore advisable to monitor dark areas because this is also where the nymphs, a kind of cocoon, will be lodged, which is also essential to eliminate.
How to get rid of flea eggs?
If your pet has fleas, it is important to act quickly and effectively. But it is not only a question of treating it. However, it is necessary to undertake the complete cleaning of its housing to avoid a possible infestation. Indeed, it is much easier to get rid of adult fleas than eggs, larvae, and nymphs.
Using a specific insecticide or spray to get rid of adult fleas is not necessarily effective on eggs, larvae, and nymphs. It is, therefore, necessary to apply other types of treatment in addition.
Several solutions are available to you for this treatment and prevention.
- Treat your pet: Several formulas are available for internal or external treatment. Depending on the weight and age of the animal, you can choose collars, pipettes or flea shampoos.
- Total cleaning of the accommodation: if you notice the presence of fleas, vacuum and wash all the floors in your home conscientiously, including carpets, baseboards, sofas, and even beds. Do not forget hard-to-reach areas such as under furniture. Also, focus on where your pet sleeps.
- Treat the ground: Inspect areas suitable for the development of larvae and cocoons to carefully eliminate them. You can also treat soils with turpentine or with a mixture of wax and linseed oil.
- Brush and/or comb your pet regularly and check their coat.
- Clean the floor of your home frequently and regularly, especially in areas frequented by your pet.
- Put a fine mesh fabric on the bed or the sleeping place of your animal. Then wash it once or twice a week.
- Finally, treat your pet with appropriate pest control.
How to get rid of fleas – Complete guide
Seeing an adult flea on our pet’s fur is a cause for alarm. We must deworm it, change the flea treatment product if it is already being treated or make sure that we are applying it correctly.
However, if you start to notice that you have more bites in your body than mosquitoes usually produce; your whole body bites you strangely or you see small bugs moving on the couch or clothes, it is very likely that you have fleas at home.
People who live with dogs know the risk of suffering from a parasite infection. But make no mistake, it is also possible to have fleas at home without animals. Fleas also love to feed on human blood.
We have explained how to know if you have fleas at home. And now, we’ll see how to eliminate them and some effective flea treatments. Remember that fleas reproduce at alarming speeds and that in a few days we can have a real plague if we do not begin to exterminate them. Remember the bubonic plague?
How to eliminate fleas at home
The first thing you should do is disinfect your dog and protect it so that fleas cannot live in or feed on it. There are several ways to eradicate your dog’s fleas, both natural and chemical. But if you have a really large infestation, we recommend that you consult an exterminator.
The best way to end fleas on your dog and possible flea eggs and larvae is to bathe your dog thoroughly with a specific flea shampoo that you can buy at any veterinary clinic.
Once your dog is clean of fleas and protected so that they cannot be re-infested again, it is time to disinfect the house of the flea plague. Remember that we should not only eliminate adult fleas, but it is equally important to eliminate eggs and flea larvae.
Techniques to eliminate eggs, larvae and adult fleas
While fleas generate more problems during the summer months, for pet owners, however, it can be a problem throughout the year.
In this section, we will see a list of natural and effective methods to kill and get rid of fleas on the carpet, on the sofa or beddings in very simple ways.
The best way to get rid of this annoying plague is with extreme cleaning. Clean the dust from all your furniture and vacuum your house in-depth several times a day for a week.
The larvae feed on other insects droppings and dust. If you vacuum the house frequently, you will not only be removing the food from the larvae. But you will probably also aspirate them, greatly reducing their population.
Vacuum the floor, the carpets, the dog’s bed, the lower parts of the furniture and all accessible places. After each vacuum session, take out the bag and throw it away, to prevent flea larvae from coming out and re-invading your home.
Wash all clothing and bedding materials in hot water
Wash all your clothes and bedding with very hot water in the washing machine, to make sure all eggs and larvae are rid of completely. Water at very high temperatures kills eggs and flea larvae. Keep in mind that some garments may shrink. However, know that a flea plague is much worse than a shrunken or disposed garment.
Then wash the floor of your home with bleach water to kill possible eggs and larvae. Do not let your dog come close, as it could get intoxicated.
So, after the thorough cleaning, you can consider applying your anti-flea chemicals or home treatments against fleas.
The cleaning comes first because most experts don’t recommend vacuuming or washing flea-bombed environments, for example.
Not washing or vacuuming the environments means the antiflea substances can linger around, preventing future re-invasion in several months to come. Therefore, cleaning and vacuuming are necessary before chemical applications.
However, it all depends on the product you choose to use. Some instructions may direct you to clean the environments after use. Some don’t, however. So, at your own discretion, you may choose to clean before or after antiflea applications, depending on the product used.
However, in case you use home remedies such as neem oil and cedar bark, water and apple cider vinegar, and some others which don’t have many after-effects, then consider cleaning after the application.
Home remedies to eliminate fleas at home
If you have already done the previous step by vacuuming and washing your clothes, it is time to move on to the elimination remedies against fleas. There are a number of tricks that we can use to end the flea plague at home without costing you much.
Beyond the unbearable itching for your pets, beware: fleas can transmit worms, with unfortunate consequences on their health. However, too powerful chemicals can be harmful to your pet. So, if you think they are too allergic, too dangerous, or quite simply if you are ecological and follower of the organic, check without further delay our “grandmother remedies”!
These tricks work for sofa, bedding and carpet infestations too.
Go to a herb doctor and buy neem oil and cedar bark. If you have a park or forest nearby with cedars, you can take some barks from there. Dilute a small spoonful of neem oil in a liter of hot water and put the mixture in a spray (atomizer). Then spray the entire house with this mixture, especially sofa, carpet and textile areas.
Take the cedar barks and place them throughout the house. You can put it on and under the sofa, on and under the bed, in furniture, etc. Fleas hate neem oil and cedar bark, as they are natural repellent against fleas. These are the best home remedies to kill fleas at home, although not the only ones. We have some more.
Water and apple cider vinegar
Place several deep plates scattered throughout the house, on the floor. Inside, put water and apple cider vinegar in equal parts. Leave the dishes there for several days. Fleas will be attracted to the liquid and unconsciously they will fall into the dish, becoming trapped and drowning.
You can and should use this mixture also to scrub your entire house, every day for a week. In the mop bucket, put water and apple cider vinegar in equal parts and scrub the house with this mixture.
They are powerful repellents against fleas, without killing them. On the other hand, vinegar is harmless for your cat if it ingests it. Orally, two drops in the bowl of water repel fleas and strengthen Meow’s immune system. In local application, you can also mix one volume of vinegar for two volumes of water, and apply with a sponge or spray on the entire dress and on the skin every 2 to 4 days. Attention, when applied pure, its effectiveness is increased tenfold but it can be irritating for the skin. Also note, some cats can not stand the smell of vinegar.
If you have a pet, you have probably had flea problems. Fleas are quite harmless, but they make your pet itchy. After having treated your pet, you should take the fleas off your carpet. And salt solutions are just as effective against fleas.
The salt is sharp and pierces the flea skeleton. This causes the flea to become dehydrated and die. Buy some large salt containers and enclose your pets in a bathroom or another room that is not carpeted. Spread the salt generously on each carpet of the house. Leave it for one night. The next morning, vacuum the rooms to remove salt and also dead fleas. Then dis-infest the pets and, thereafter, let them reuse the flea-free carpets.
It naturally contains d-limonene, a common component in insecticides. Heat two lemons cut into rings with the skin on low heat for at least three hours.
Apply the lotion thus obtained with the sponge or with a spray every 24 hours. This remedy is less durable than vinegar, but its smell is more easily accepted by cats.
Another recipe that has been effective in combating these annoying insects is as simple as preparing a lemon juice with a little rosemary. When combined, this becomes a lethal weapon that you can use in different ways.
To get the mixture, you just have to pour 2 cups of water and two slices of lemon with their peels in a pot. Then boil them for a little more than twenty minutes. And then add half a cup of dried rosemary and let it continue boiling for five more minutes.
Once you’ve done all this, you must remove the pot from the heat and cover it with the lid and then let this mixture remain overnight at room temperature. Then use it in one of the ways that can be very effective to combat and eliminate fleas on your pet’s skin.
You can also apply this to your dog’s flea bandana. This is one of the easiest and consists of adding a few drops of the lemon solution inside the collar of your little friend. This will not affect your skin and will provide an aroma that will serve as an insect repellent.
The only problem with this solution is that this effect does not usually last more than 3 hours. So you will have to do it at least 3 times a day
Diatomaceous earth is a 100% natural and very effective anti-flea remedy that protects our dogs, cats, and other pets while preserving the environment and their health. It is composed of 70% silica. Non-toxic if ingested, but it kills fleas.
Fleas and ticks that have a soft exoskeleton are very sensitive to the sharp edges of fossilized diatoms. The silica shards shear and pierce the waxy exoskeleton of fleas and larvae, leading to dehydration and death.
Food grade diatomite is non-toxic to humans and animals and is still used in some foods as an anti-caking agent in the food industry. DE is also used in a variety of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Are there any dangers for my pets when using diatomaceous earth? Well, diatomaceous earth is not dangerous, so it can be applied to animal litter boxes in addition to weekly washing with hot water.
Diatomaceous Earth can be used outdoors, especially in the event of a large invasion. Also, it will act as a repellent in your yard/garden.
Diatomaceous Earth eradicates fleas and ticks mechanically, unlike most insecticides on the market, so parasites cannot develop resistance against it.
Apply it on your cat’s wear every day until fleas are eradicated. Avoid the head, however, as this substance is irritating to the respiratory tract.
In the second step, put your pet in a bathtub and sprinkle diatomite on the entire coat while stroking it.
The next day, vacuum up the diatomaceous earth that has been found in your home. Then repeat these steps every 7 days for 3 weeks and finally kill the unhatched larvae at the start of treatment.
Again, the use of diatomaceous earth is harmless to cats, dogs, and other pets provided that the product is of good quality and food-type. Of course, do not forget to protect the nose and eyes of your little feline at the time of application.
Regular brush combing helps remove pests and is completely natural. You will find an electronic version in your local stores which can also help to eradicate these pests instantly!
Warning: Fleas live mainly in the house (they only jump on your cat’s body for food). It is imperative to also treat your soil, your furnishing fabrics, your bed and that of the pet to kill the eggs and the larvae! Vinegar, lemon or flea sprays are super effective!
Finally, if you don’t have time to prepare grandmother’s remedies, why not go for a ready-made version like necklaces, spot-on pipettes or herbal flea powder?
Other home remedies
Placing certain aromatic plants throughout the house can also help you repel fleas. Plants such as thyme, basil, citronella or mint act as natural repellents.
Other remedies against fleas
Most pet stores and even some supermarkets sell flea powders that are for carpet use.
These powders are effective after four weeks of the first treatment. This is because new eggs will be born at four weeks and you should eliminate them too.
Flea powder works the same way as salt. It dehydrates fleas and kills them. Spread the dust all over the carpet after enclosing your pets in a room that is not carpeted.
Then wait for 24 hours. After this, vacuum all the carpets. Be sure to remove the bag and throw it in an external trash can as soon as you finish.
Another quite efficient option is combining the mixture of lemon and rosemary in the shampoo that you use to bathe your dog. This way, the aroma will last longer and you will not damage its skin or its fur.
While all these solutions give very good results and do not endanger the health of your little one, it is always important to talk with the veterinarian before opting for any of these options, since he will know which one is best for your
Remember that not only does it matter that you are without fleas, but also that you and the pet stay healthy.
Flea fumigation pumps
Flea pumps are effective in killing fleas on carpets as long as they contain insect growth regulators (IGR), which is a growth inhibitor.
The chemical stops the growth of fleas at the beginning of the life cycle so that they do not become adults and lay eggs.
Fumigant flea pumps do require more preparation. You must remove all the dishes and items of your pets and move the furniture in your carpeted room so that there is nothing covering the carpet.
You will need one or two pumps per carpeted room depending on the size of the room. The pump will have instructions for use, and once you fumigate, you must leave the room immediately.
You and your pets should stay out of the house for as long as the instructions indicate, approximately 12 hours in some cases.
When you return home, open all windows and doors for a few hours to ventilate it. While waiting for the air to clear, you can vacuum all dead fleas and dispose of them in an external trash can.
Baking soda and salt
This is also one of the easiest and safest way to kill fleas on the carpet. It consists of a combo of natural and chemical products. These two common cooking ingredients are not only safe for pets and babies but can also be obtained without a problem and at a very low cost.
On the other hand, the use of this natural method can not only help you get rid of all fleas on the carpet but also their eggs. Here are some steps to use baking soda and salt to kill fleas on your carpet.
Start by removing the lighter furniture from carpeted areas. Generously sprinkle salt on the carpet from left to right in order to cover each and every area of the room.
You should keep in mind that you will need a large amount of salt depending on the size and number of rooms you have. Make sure you have the right supply of all the ingredients.
Now apply the baking soda freely from one end of the room to another, as explained above. You will not need so much baking soda as salt, as it is easier to spread and it is also a nuisance to sweep large quantities with a broom. (This takes us to the next step).
With a broom, sweep the carpet around and with the greatest possible pressure. This way, you can completely mix the two products that are going to kill fleas on your carpet. The broom also ensures penetration into the fibers of the carpet, in order to kill all existing fleas.
Depending on the degree of the infestation, you may want to leave both products on the carpet for at least 12 hours.
Salt can be a bit abrasive to the skin and fur of pets, so be sure to keep your pet out of the treatment area.
Salt and baking soda work by dehydrating fleas on the carpet, as well as their eggs. During this period, fleas will try to move away from the treated area. So you might see them jumping everywhere.
The baking soda and salt method to kill fleas on the carpet should be repeated once a week until all fleas are eliminated.
How to exterminate a large plague
If the plague is so big that you can’t contain it or it just makes you so nervous that you don’t want to live another moment with them in your home, then the best solution is to go to professionals or start using more powerful chemicals.
Going to a specialized company is the best option. However, pest exterminators will ask all humans and pets leave the home for a few hours while they make a flea bombing or apply highly poisonous chemicals against fleas.
All fleas, eggs, and larvae will die and the potency of the poison against humans and pets will stop in a few hours (that’s why they ask you to leave). This is the most effective option against uncontrolled house flea pests.
However, you can also buy chemicals and flea traps that you can use at home. But remember, these products are also dangerous for your dog. You should be extremely careful so that neither children nor dogs touch, play or lick that poison.
If you opt for the option of placing the traps and poisons yourself, remember to leave them for at least a month. Since the larvae and eggs can develop in a staggered way.
Fighting a small flea plague is simple, follow the indicated steps and they will disappear in no time. However, when the plague is widespread, you have to call in professionals if you are not one.
The best way to prevent a flea pest at home is to keep our pets protected. Prevention is the best solution, a flea and tick repellent collar can last three months. Combined with monthly antiparasitic pipettes, your dog will be almost 100% protected.
If I have 2 pets at home, and only one of them has fleas, do I have to treat both?
Yes, you have to apply the flap on the two little animals. Oftentimes, the pet owner discovers the flea on only one pet. But in fact, if one has a flea, the likelihood that another or more pets in the house will have fleas is huge. So all pets should receive flea treatments, especially for control.
Should I apply for the treatment only in summer?
Anti-flea should be applied all year round, and to all pets in the house, to prevent a summer infestation. Doing this annual flea protection will also help control the environment where the pets are, thus preventing eggs, larvae, and flea pupae from proliferating and infesting the pets.
Can you apply the same flea repellants on dogs and cats?
No, there are dog-specific and cat-specific anti-fleas. Anti-flea application is always done according to the animal’s weight. There are anti-fleas that are both topical and oral. So if in doubt, it is always important to consult a veterinarian, as he will indicate the ideal product for your pet.
What can fleas cause on my pet?
- When a dog or cat is infested with fleas, it may have:
- Allergic flea dermatitis, leading to severe itching, peeling, reddening of the skin and even hair loss in the affected area;
- Worms called diphydiosis, which can also affect humans.
This is why it is very important to control these parasites in your pet before it gets to you or your kids.
How does my pet have fleas, and my house has no fleas?
This is the most frequently asked question. Pet owners are horrified when fleas are detected on clinical examination or when the pet has flea allergic dermatitis. Usually the animals are infested with fleas during the walk, in contact with other pets, sometimes in their baths and grooming, or in their own environment. So the animals are not free from infestation. Therefore, it is important to apply flea products to avoid that, during the outings with your pet, it does not come home with these unwanted parasites, right?
How do fleas get to my dog?
They are acquired when they jump from one animal to another. Or when the animal wanders through places where there is a great accumulation of organic remains such as hairs, skin cells, among others. And that is where the larvae that feed on these residues are found.
How to know if my dog has fleas?
Due to its size and agility, it is not easy to see fleas unless the infestation is high. However, it is possible to inspect the skin and hair of your dog (mainly the area of the spine and abdomen) occasionally and observe a few brown drops, which can be flea droppings.
If my pet scratches, does it have fleas?
The continuous scratching is not an indicative sign that they have fleas since the flea’s saliva acts as a local anesthetic that numbs the place of the bite. However, many of the dogs are allergic to flea saliva (allergic flea dermatitis), and that is when scratching becomes present.
For biological use and the purpose of elimination and prevention, it is important to have some informational analyses such as their scientific information, their life cycles and how long fleas live. In summary, they can live up to 160 days. But as the animals that suffer from them usually intercept them, the average is reduced to 1-3 weeks. However, the flea we discover in our animals may have laid 350 to 1,050 eggs that will be in our house metamorphosing into fleas.
Adult fleas live on our animals, feeding on their blood by bites. On them, the females lay a maximum of 50 a day eggs, which will fall to the environment, where they will develop.
Fleas can live up to 6 weeks after hatching, without eating. On the other hand, she cannot survive beyond 2 days without food after her first meal.
About 8 hours after its first blood meal, the flea can mate and lay its eggs 36 hours later. Its fertility decreases when it chooses a human host. The life expectancy of the flea is considerably reduced when it leaves its host.
Fleas are small parasites of just a few millimeters of dark color. They move very fast and can make great leaps. If you look at your sofa, carpets, bed or clothes and see these types of bugs, do not hesitate. They are fleas!