Do flea traps work?

Summary

Flea traps work well to diagnose fleas, identify species, and monitor 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.

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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 they’re employed for.

Assessing Flea Populations

Flea traps work well for sampling flea populations within specific areas. Thus, the traps can be used as flea detectors to diagnose infestations. The exact species of flea can be identified by taking a close look at the trapped specimen. Also, traps are handy for monitoring population changes of emerging fleas. They can help 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 finding a host. 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 infestations are adults. Traps are also limited to capturing fleas in the environment as they emerge from cocoons. Once a flea finds a host it stays there. So, fleas must be caught before they locate a host. The 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 that as many as 95% 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 alone 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 pupate into adults, they can stay inside their cocoons and go quiescent (inactive) for up to 5 months. Most won’t go quiescent, but the few that do cause control issues. They’ll rapidly wake up and emerge upon detecting heat and pressure, indicating 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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