Being among the nastiest pests, fleas expose serious danger to humans and animals. Together with that, this is a very interesting creature whose abilities impress!

Are Fleas Parasites?

Yes, this creature needs to live on animals and people to drink blood essential for their survival. These insects are not met in nature, existing on their own – without host, it will starve. However, they can live in the grass for some time, because it provides moist and shelter.

Flea vs tick macrophoto

Can They Jump?

Did you ever thought how such a small bug can appear in your dog’s or cat’s fur? This is due to the fact that they jump at about 4 feet. Doesn’t seem significant? This is 100 times of their height! Insects have very strong legs, what allows travelling from pet to pet simply.

Have Fleas Got Wings

No, their legs are enough to move far.

Where Did Fleas Come From?

In most cases, bugs travel to your house or pet after contact with a host. For instance, you walked your dog in a park, and it played with another animal – insects could easily have jumped on it. Insects may easily leap on people, too. Another scenario is when you get used furniture or carpet infested with bugs – they may organize shelter in such places, too.

Read also: How to Look Flea Bites on Humans, Methods of Treatment

How Come I Have Fleas But No Pets?

Petless people can also be the target of these pests. They can lurk in the grass, woodpiles, storage piles, and other hidden places. If neighbor pet owners are trying to get rid of insects by using special remedies, running bugs can also find shelter in your house.

How Fleas Look Like?

What do fleas look like?

This is a small insect of dark-brown or black cover that has round body about 1 mm in diameter. There is no narrowing between thorax and back part, head is very small. If observed at the front, it seems to be narrow and tall: that’s because their corpus is of pancake-like form. Bugs have six legs, and the back pair is very strong and developed to compensate lack of wings. This insect is hard to see with unarmed eye: when looked upon on pet’s fur, they seem to be small dark-brown dots.

Can Fleas Kill A Dog?

Flea bites on dogs

Such a small creature may do a lot of harm, even cause death of your pet. Kittens and puppies are under threat primarily. How can that happen? First of all, in case of severe infestation the number of insects may become so high that they cause serious loss of blood (a hundred insects drink about 1 milliliter a say), which leads to weakness, malnutrition and exposes danger of infections. Transmitted diseases may also trigger very unpleasant consequences, or be lethal. Fleas may be the source of:

  • Bartonellosis;
  • Plague;
  • Dermatitis;
  • Murine typhus;
  • Tungiasis;
  • Cat scratch.

If left unnoticed and untreated, any of these malaises can dispatch your pet.

Besides, flea infestation combined with tapeworms (typical of cats) or pruritus in dogs can lead to general weakening, loss of appetite and malnutrition. Detailed here.


Did Fleas Cause The Plague?

Yes, in Medieval Times, when Bubonic Plague outraged, the disease was supposed to be spread by bugs living on black rats. However, today this infection is almost absent, and the chances to catch it are minor.

Can Fleas Survive In Water?

Unfortunately, they can. It is very hard to drown this insect. In one experiment, several bugs were submerged into water: one died within a day, while others passed away only in a week. If you wash your pet, or it swims, bugs can easily emerge, and when being on surface, they will not submerge back – their weight is too light. In addition, they have outer waxy layer that prevent getting wet, and, apparently, protects respiratory system from water.

Adding soap may considerably help in drowning pests. It contains surfactants that reduce tension of water and breaks down cuticle cells, decreasing insect’s protection.

How Fleas Lay Eggs?

Insects reproduce all around year, if living on a pet inside house. When surviving outside, reproduction takes place in warmer seasons. A female lays eggs only after having a meal, and lays about 20 eggs once and 500 eggs in a lifetime.

Egg hatches into a larva which grows and turns into pupae (cocoon). When it develops to the end, an adult flea breaks the shell and is considered to be fully mature.

Fleas eggs

Are Fleas Asexual?

No, just like all other insects, female and male bugs exist, and one cannot reproduce without partner. Female lays eggs that must be fertilized by male. In very rare cases, unfertilized eggs may develop (such phenomenon is called “parthenogenesis”).

Who Do Fleas Bite?

They can attack both animals and people. In fact, bugs can live on any creature whose skin is thin enough to pierce through. Theoretically, both pets and wild animals serve as perfect source of blood meal.

Flea bites photo

Does It Hurt When It Bites?

Usually, neither people nor pets notice when skin is pierces – a bug is too small.

Are They Attracted to Light?

No, this bug prefers hiding in thick fur, far from host’s reach, and light only scares it away.

Would Fleas Live In Human Hair?

Yes, this is exactly where they hide when infesting a person. They can bite on any body part – you may even not notice how a bug pierces through skin. But insects need to hide somewhere, and thick hair is perfect place for them.

Flea bites on humans

Where Fleas Hide On Cats and Dogs?

To check your pet, put it on its back and examine groin and armpits: these are the warmest and most discreet places that ensure maximum comfort for pests.

How Fleas Bite?

A bug has special mouthpart that may pierce through skin. After making a hole, it starts sucking blood. Skin irritation and itching are caused by saliva that gets inside – its proteins cause allergic reaction severity of which can vary, depending on person’s immunity.

Why Insects Don’t Attack Some People?

Every person has individual chemical makeup, and smell emitted by skin may just be not appetizing for bugs. For instance, if you eat a lot of garlic, its scent will repel pests. Some people are not allergic to bugs’ saliva – their blood coagulates after bite, and it passes unnoticed. No itching or irritation takes place in such case.

Vice versa, pests are attracted to the smell of carbon dioxide, because for them it indicates the source of blood.

How to Identify Their Bites?

Unlike spots from other insects, fleas’ bites stay small and look like small dots with small “halo” surrounding centre. Spots usually appear in clusters of three-ten, or more, and can often be observed on waist, around legs or ankles, armpits and back parts of elbows and knees. Another telltale sign is itching that reveals in an hour after sting. Rash may also develop around bites.

Read more about Flea bite allergy.

Sand Flea bites on humans

At Which Temperature Do Bugs Die?

Despite having strong shell and being resistant to drowning, fleas are sensitive to temperature. Optimal range for them is 8-35 °C. At colder temperatures, insect may survive only if living in fur of its host. At -1 °C, an adult insect will die within five days. They also can’t survive at high temperatures outdoors (more than 35 °C), if it keeps more than 40 hours a month.

Washing in hot water also kills pests. If you need to get rid of insects on clothes or bed sheets, do 10 minutes laundry at 90°C, after which dry at the hottest mode. Detergents will accelerate this process.

Would Steam Kill Fleas?

This is a good option for killing adults, larvae and eggs on furniture and carpets. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, you may rent one in a home improvement store. Treat textile objects for at least five minutes to ensure total extermination.

How to Prevent Infestation?

You can protect pets from getting fleas by putting repellent collars on them. This is a very affordable and effective method to keep insects at bay. When washing a pet, use special shampoo – it will eliminate leftovers of dirt, bugs and their eggs, and leave slight scent that scares pests away.

To prevent bugs from entering your house, you may apply repellents purchased in the Net, or save money and create home-made remedies:

  • Citrus spray made of lemons, rosemary and geranium oil. Chop and slice the ingredients, mix them with boiling water, leave for a night and the next day sprinkle on furniture, pet bedding, carpet, and other corners. You may use it outside, too. Lemon scent will repel bugs.
  • A simple and useful way to deter pests from animals is to wash your pet in a bath with vinegar. About 100 ml of it together with 3-5 teaspoons of soap will surely leave strong barrier against nasty bugs.
  • Diatomaceous earth dehydrates both insects and their eggs, so it can be successfully used on furniture, carpets, pet fur and in your backyard. It should be distributes evenly and kept out of children’s and pet’s reach. When used outside, the remedy should be vacuumed properly. If you spread it in grass, add more after rain.

How to Kill Fleas?

Read detailed guide: How to Get Rid of Fleas in the House: Efficient Remedies for Fighting Infestation

How to get rid of fleas

Above-mentioned remedies are ecologically-friendly. But if they are not enough to exterminate pests, complement treatment with the following measures.

On Pets

Special pills for cats and dogs make their bodies emit smell which deters insects. Together with flea shampoo, it will provide strong protection. And don’t forget to comb animal’s fur after washing to get rid of dead bugs and their eggs.

On Humans

To exterminate pests in human hair, wash regularly (at least two times a day). Try mixing Dawn dish soap, cider vinegar and water in equal parts (about ½ cup of each ingredient), and wash head with it, leaving foam for 2-3 minutes. Rinse with warm water, and comb.

You may also use essential oils, like tea tree, to repel bugs (for instance, put a few drops of oil onto a rug and tie it around your neck or wrist). Detailed read here.

In House

If you don’t have small children or very curious pets, special remedies (for instance, Raid) may help. They can be produced in various forms, but spray is most effective. Fleas often hide and lay eggs in carpet, so pay special attention to these objects. Vacuum rugs and carpets often, keep your dwelling as clean as possible.

Borax is another effective remedy. Distribute the powder over a carpet, work it in nap properly, and leave for at least 6 hours (or more, if you can). This substance dehydrates larvae and adults and destroys exoskeleton, which accelerates death considerably. Vacuum the carpet thoroughly. Keep pets and children away from treated room, and if you are pregnant, avoid using this remedy, too. Mind that this method does not kill eggs of pests.

What to Do If a Puppy Or Kitten Is Infected?

Small pets need special care. Purchase ecologically safe remedies: these are typically suitable for 4-8 weeks old animals, and won’t cause allergy. When washing tiny pets, use shampoo intended for kittens or puppies, and avoid trying aggressive remedies, such as diatomaceous earth.

Flea is a very interesting insect: despite being so small, it can do a lot of harm to people and animals. Luckily, now you have learnt enough to protect your house and family from pest invasion.