Do flea traps work?

Summary

Flea traps work well for diagnosing fleas, identifying species, and monitoring populations. Flea traps alone aren’t effective for controlling infestations, but they can serve as an adjunct to other control measures. The traps will capture a portion of adult fleas in the environment as they emerge from cocoons.

Details

Flea trap do work. They’ll capture some adult fleas as they emerge from cocoons. However, the effectiveness of traps depends on the purpose of the user.

Assessing Flea Populations

Flea traps work well for sampling flea populations within specific areas. Thus, the traps can be used to diagnose infestations. The exact species of flea can be identified by taking a close look at the trapped specimen. Traps are also handy for monitoring population changes of emerging fleas. They can be employed to assess the efficacy of insecticide treatments, or to determine when an infestation is over.

Controlling Infestations

Flea traps won’t control fleas. By themselves, they’ll do little to end an infestation. However, flea traps can serve as an adjunct to flea control programs. Some of the newly emerged adults will get trapped before succumbing to treatments on pets. This can help prevent bites on people and pets in the home.

Traps only Catch Adults

Flea traps only catch the adult stage, and only 1-5% of fleas are adults. Traps are also limited to capturing fleas in the environment as they emerge from cocoons. Adult fleas permanently reside on hosts. So, fleas must be caught before they find a host. Flea traps won’t attract fleas off of animals.

Trapping Efficacy

Flea traps won’t catch 100% of adults in the environment. According to one source, typical commercial flea traps capture about 12% of adult fleas. However, a trap manufacturer claims as many as 95% of fleas are captured. Two factors that greatly increase attraction are intermittent light and green light. When a trap employs these features, it’ll capture up to 86% of adult fleas in a room.

Pre-Emerged Adults

Flea traps won’t control infestations, even if they could attract and catch 100% of adults in the environment. The pre-emerged adult state is to blame. After fleas complete their development into adults, they can stay inside their cocoons and go quiescent for up to 5 months. A large portion of adults won’t go quiescent, but the few that do cause control issues. They’ll rapidly wake up and emerge upon detecting heat and pressure. These two cues indicate that an animal is resting on the cocoon. So, a nearby host is immediately available when they emerge. There would be no opportunity for a flea trap to work.

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