Flea Facts & Information
Protect your home or business from fleas by learning techniques for identification and control.
Types of fleas
What do fleas look like?
Fleas are small, wingless and about 2.5 mm long. Their bodies are shiny and reddish-brown in color, covered with microscopic hair, and are compressed to allow for easy movement through animal fur. Fleas do not have wings, although they are capable of jumping long distances.
Most common fleas
- Cat Flea
- Dog Flea
- Sand Flea
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get fleas?
Flea infestations often come from a pet dog or cat. The pests attach to the animal when it’s outside, and then infest its fur and the places it sleeps indoors. Flea prevention for both the home and yard can be difficult. Without a proactive approach, any pet owner is vulnerable to an infestation.
Fleas depend on a blood meal from a host to survive. On some occasions, fleas may become an inside problem when the host they previously fed on is no longer around. Then fleas focus their feeding activity on other hosts that reside inside the home. An example of such a situation is when a mouse inside the home is trapped and removed, the fleas that previously fed on the mouse are then forced to feed on pets or people.
How serious are fleas?
Flea bites may leave the host with numerous swollen, itchy marks. They may cause allergic reactions in some people and can transmit several diseases. Furry pets are the most at risk. Fleas can bite people and pets and can be a big nuisance. According to a recent CDC statement, the number of illnesses caused by flea bites tripled between 2004 and 2016.
The most serious aspect of a flea infestation is often the time and effort it takes to remove. Dealing with the problem requires treating infected animals, cleaning flea-infested areas, and taking preventative measures to keep the fleas from returning.
What are the signs of fleas?
Pets Scratching: A common indication would be pets that repeatedly scratch and groom themselves. This is caused by the discomfort of the flea activity as the adult fleas feed on the pet’s blood.
Bites: People also may experience bites that leave behind itchy bite marks (a medical doctor can be consulted since there are other sources of skin irritation besides fleas).
Feces: Flea dirt, the adult flea feces, also can indicate activity. Flea dirt looks similar to coarse ground black pepper and may be seen in pet beds, carpets, rugs, and other areas where the animal host rests.
Adult Fleas: Since fleas are relatively easy to see in their adult stage, most of the attention is directed at adult fleas. Adult fleas are usually easy to locate, especially if the homeowner and their pets return to the house after a long vacation or other absence during which the resident flea adults were not able to take a blood meal. Upon returning, the homeowners are often greeted by fleas jumping around and trying to land on them and their pets.
Flea Eggs: The flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are another situation. Since these stages are much more secretive and much less active, they are found in out-of-the-way places like:
- behind, under or in furniture
- in a pet’s bedding
- inside cracks and grooves in the floors
- in carpets
Flea eggs that were deposited by the female adult, fall off your pets as they move, allowing them to be disbursed throughout the environment where a pet spends time.
What do fleas eat?
Adults are parasites that draw blood from a host. Larvae feed on organic debris, particularly the feces of adult fleas, which contain undigested blood.
Fleas commonly prefer to feed on hairy animals such as:
- domesticated animal
- wild animals
How do fleas reproduce?
Eggs are not attached to the host, but will hatch within two days in the following places:
- on the ground
- in rugs
- cracks in the floor
How can I keep fleas out?
Employing exclusion practices is important for many pest problems, but exclusion does not have a major, direct benefit for flea control. However, sealing cracks, gaps, and holes to help keep rodents or other potential hosts from gaining access to the home is an important indirect way to keep fleas outside.
The most effective way to keep fleas from getting inside the home is to eliminate outdoor flea habitats and outdoor hosts, plus using area-wide flea control chemical products and veterinarian-approved flea control products on pets.
What is the lifecycle of fleas?
The development of fleas involves a four-phase life cycle. Beginning as eggs, fleas undergo larval and pupal stages before emerging as adults. Depending on the species, the life expectancy of a flea is eight days to two months or, in some cases, up to a year.
One pair of fleas can produce more than 1 million offspring through their offspring’s offspring in a matter of weeks.
Eggs: The flea’s life cycle begins when a fertilized female finds a suitable location for laying her eggs. The ideal egg site is material that the larvae will eat when they hatch from the egg. Examples of egg-laying sites might include a pile of trash, feces, or other damp, decomposing organic material. In some cases, fertilized eggs hatch within 24 hours.
Larvae: Upon hatching, larvae feed upon the organic material. flea larvae eat for several days to weeks, storing enough protein and nutrients to last through their upcoming pupa stage.
Pupal: When larvae are grown, they leave their food source and seek dry, dark places within which to pupate. During the pupal stage, fleas develop from legless larvae into adults with six legs, compound eyes, and a pair of wings.
Adult: Development time from egg to adult vary depending on species, environmental conditions, and abundance of food. Some fleas can complete their development in a matter of a couple of weeks if conditions are right.
Understanding flea problems
The more you know about fleas, the better you can predict and control their behavior. Here are some quick facts to help you on your way.
The cat flea is the most common flea in North America, although the dog, human and oriental rat fleas can also be found.
Pets suffering from flea bites scratch themselves incessantly. Fleas also feed on humans, and some people exhibit flea allergies.