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 eggs are tiny, only about 1/64" in length. This can make it difficult to spot them. They are oval and off-white. Though eggs are laid on a host, they easily fall off. They can end up in a variety of places in your home including on carpet, flooring, furniture, and mixed in with bedding. Eggs typically hatch within 1-12 days. Environmental conditions greatly affect their development. If conditions are warm and humid, eggs will thrive and hatch quickly. Cold and dry conditions will slow their development. As eggs, fleas are protected from insecticides. The best way to remove eggs is vacuuming or sweeping.
After hatching, fleas enter the larval stage. Larvae are worm-like in appearance. They range in size from 1/16"-3/16". Flea larvae are white and slightly transparent. They lack eyes and legs. After feeding on adult flea feces, they grow darker. Fleas also eat crumbs, dead insects, and dead skin, but they won’t feed on a host. Moisture is important for larvae, and they won’t survive if dehydration occurs. During the larval stage, fleas move away from light sources and gravitate to dark, narrow, dusty spots. They are often found in cracks, on carpet, and in bedding. Vacuuming can help to remove larvae.
Fleas in the pupal stage remain in a sticky, silk cocoon. The cocoon acts as a shield and protects the flea from potential danger. They can be spotted on flooring, carpet, and rugs. Fleas can remain in the pupal stage for days or weeks. The speed of their development depends on their environment. Warmth and high humidity cause flea pupae to develop quicker. Signs of hosts, including vibrations and body heat, can cause fleas to respond. Vacuuming can help to remove pupae, but sometimes it’s easier to deal with them once they develop into adults.
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 can 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 your and your pet’s skin.
How to Get Rid of Fleas
To eliminate a flea infestation, it’s crucial to treat both your pets and your home. Multiple treatments may be necessary to eliminate the fleas emerging from the egg and pupal stage. Check out a few tips to keep your home free of fleas.
- Contact your veterinarian to find out the best flea treatment for your furry friends.
- Give your pets baths to help remove fleas.
- Wash your pet’s bedding to minimize fleas and eggs.
- Vacuuming can help to reduce flea numbers.
- Plant-based insecticide sprays, like our Home Bug Spray and Bed Bug & Flea Killer, can help fight fleas. While these are great for treating flooring and furniture, they shouldn’t be applied directly to pets.
Fleas can turn into a serious 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. Understanding these stages can help you treat an infestation. If you’re dealing with a flea problem, we want to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products.