Why do fleas bite ankles?

why do fleas bite ankles and feet

Michael Voelker

Img 1 Cat flea bites on people often occur on the ankles and feet.


Fleas bite ankles because this body area is located at the average height of their jumps. Fleas don’t fly. Additionally, there’s often a gap of exposed skin between sock rims and pant cuffs. Upon reaching exposed skin, fleas bite right away without wandering. And they leave after feeding.


As cat fleas emerge from their cocoons, they’ll occasionally bite people when cats and dogs are absent. Flea bites on humans often occur on their feet, ankles, calves, and lower legs.

Why Fleas Bite Ankles

Fleas can’t Fly

Fleas don’t have wings and can’t fly. They must jump to reach their hosts. Cat flea jumps reach an average height of 5.2 inches (13.2 cm). At a maximum, they can jump 7.9 inches (20 cm) into the air. These heights are where ankles are located on people.

fleas jump to the ankles

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Img 2 Cat fleas can jump up to 8 inches in the air.

Skin is Exposed at the Ankles

Fleas can’t bite through clothing. So, wearing trousers and socks can help stop their bites. However, oftentimes pants and socks don’t quite meet, and this leaves a gap of exposed skin around the ankles. If fleas land on a person’s socks, they’ll move to exposed ankle skin to feed. There, they can feed freely because the pants obscure them from view. To prevent flea bites, it’s a good idea to tuck the trouser’s legs into the socks.

tucking pant legs into socks

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Img 3 Flea bites can be prevented by tucking pant legs into socks.

Flea Movement on Humans

Fleas immediately begin feeding after finding exposed skin. They don’t wander around. The fleas then leave after consuming a blood meal. They don’t remain on humans like they do with primary host animals. However, they’ll often bite two to three times in a single feeding.

When Bites Occur Higher Up

Nearly all flea bites on humans occur below the knees. Even the upper legs are too far from the ground for fleas to reach in normal circumstances. However, in rare occasions, and in extreme infestations, flea bites can be found higher up on the body. For example, sitting on the floor will give fleas easy access to the waist and upper legs. Bites on the body can also occur if a person allows an infested pet to sleep in their bed.


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  • Cindy Ekic July 27, 2017, 5:53 pm

    My husband and I moved in to a new place that is infested with fleas. He gets bit all the time and his legs/aNiles look like a connect the dot board but I have around 3 bites. Why do they bite him and not me? Is there something in his blood that they like more?

    • Adam Retzer July 30, 2017, 7:52 pm

      I’ve never read anything that suggests certain people’s blood is more attractive to fleas. Check out our page on What Attracts Fleas. There are many anecdotal reports of fleas being more attracted to certain people in a household. I’m not sure how to explain it. Perhaps your husband is spending more time in flea hotspots within the home?