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The Flea Life Cycle: Why Fleas Are Difficult to Control

If you have a pet, there’s a good chance that the word flea freaks you out. Fleas are known for invading your home and attacking your pets. Understanding the flea life cycle can help you treat an infestation. We’ve gathered information about each stage of a flea’s life and what you should expect.

Flea Life Cycle


Egg: Protective Stage

Fleas are protected from insecticide while they are in the egg stage of their life cycle. Female adult fleas can lay eggs after their first blood meal. They typically lay 4-8 eggs after each feeding. Flea eggs are very tiny, white, and are often found in clusters. Though eggs are laid on a host, they easily fall off. This means they can end up in a variety of places in your home. They are usually found on carpet and flooring, furniture, and mixed in with bedding. Eggs typically hatch within 1-12 days. Environmental conditions greatly affect their development time. If conditions are warm and humid, eggs will thrive and hatch quickly. However, if conditions are cold and dry, it will take them longer to hatch. Since eggs are so small, they can be difficult to see. Vacuuming and sweeping places where fleas are commonly found can help with an infestation.


After hatching, fleas enter the larval stage. Flea larvae grow between 3-5mm. They are white and slightly transparent. After feeding on adult flea feces, they will grow darker. They also eat food crumbs, dead insects, and dead skin. They won’t feed on a host. Flea larvae lack eyes and legs. Moisture is extremely important for the larvae. If they become dehydrated, they will not survive. At this stage, fleas prefer areas that are dark, narrow, and dusty. They are known to move away from light sources. They can be found in cracks, on carpet, and in bedding. As they near the end of the larval stage, they will spin a silk cocoon. Once this happens, they enter into the pupal stage. Like flea eggs, vacuuming can help remove flea larvae in your home.

Pupae: Protective Stage

Like the egg stage, fleas are protected from insecticides while they are in the pupa stage. Fleas in the pupal stage remain in a silk cocoon. The cocoon acts as a shield and protects the flea from potential danger. They can most often be found on flooring, carpet, and rugs. Fleas can stay in the pupal stage for days or weeks. Like eggs, their development time depends on their environment. When it is warmer and humidity levels are higher, flea pupae will develop more quickly. They also respond to signs of hosts including vibrations and body heat. Their cocoon has a sticky exterior that makes it easy to attach to carpet. This can make it quite difficult to remove flea pupae. While vacuuming can help, it won’t always work. This is why eliminating a flea infestation can take time and multiple treatments. Waiting for pupae to develop and emerge in their adult form will make it easier to deal with the problem.


Adult Flea

Adult fleas emerge fully developed from their cocoon. They have a flat, dark reddish-brown body. They can grow between 1/12″ and 1/6″ long. However, the most common home fleas—cat fleas and dog fleas—are usually about 1/8″ in length. They will need a blood meal within a few hours after emerging from their cocoon. After 48 hours, females are able to begin laying eggs. Adult fleas live primarily on their host and can live for just a few weeks or up to several months. Flea bites can irritate pet skin as well as humans if they are bitten. If you notice your pets scratching or any red bumps, check for fleas. To eliminate a flea infestation, it is crucial to treat both your pets and your home. Contact your veterinarian to find out the best flea treatment for your furry friends. Vacuuming is a great way to reduce flea numbers. You will also need to treat your home. Using a spray like Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Home Bug Spray or an aerosol like Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Bed Bug & Flea Killer can help fight fleas. While these are great for flooring and furniture, they should not be applied directly to pets.


Fleas can turn into a major problem if they aren’t handled efficiently. Their life cycle makes them harder to control since they are naturally protected from insecticides in two stages. Multiple treatments are necessary to eliminate an infestation to get the fleas emerging from the egg and pupae stages. If you are dealing with a flea problem, we want to help. Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Pest Control products.

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