How long can fleas live without host blood?

Summary

Fleas removed from their host will die of starvation within four days. Young fleas that haven’t fed can live slightly longer without a blood meal, around one week. Pre-emerged adults, remaining inside their cocoons, can enter into a dormant-like state. They can survive for up to 155 days without feeding.

Details

Adults within Cocoons

After pupating, adult fleas can remain quiescent (dormant-like) within their cocoons for an extended period of time. Their metabolic activity is slowed down, allowing them to survive without food. Depending on ambient temperature, cocoon emergence can be delayed as long as five months. However, the quiescence quickly ends once a nearby host is detected.

Emerged, Unfed Adults

After emerging from their cocoons, adult cat fleas must quickly find a host. Without blood, they’ll die of starvation within a week in normal household conditions Fig 1.

95°F
80°F
60°F

Fig 1 Days it takes (y-axis) for 90% of newly-emerged, unfed adult fleas to die at various relative humidity percentages (x-axis).

Unfed adults can live slightly longer in more favorable, humid environments. They’re capable of surviving as long as 15 days at 75.2°F (24°C) and 78% relative humidity (RH). And at 72.5°F (22.5°C) and 60% RH, they can live for 12.3 days.

The best conditions for survival occur in cool, very humid environments. Some unfed fleas have been observed to live for up to 40 days. In one experiment, 62% of emerged adults survived up to 70 days in cool, saturated air. These conditions rarely occur within homes or natural environments.

Fleas Removed from their Host

Malnourishment

Fleas quickly begin feeding once a host is acquired, often in less than a minute. After 24 hours of feeding, a previously unfed flea will nearly double in weight and triple in soluble protein content. When removed from the host and starved for 12 hours, all of the gained weight and most of the protein is lost. Thus, fleas must feed at least every 12 hours in order to stay well-nourished.

Blood Dependency & Starvation

Fleas typically die of starvation within four days of being removed from their host. When a young flea acquires a host and begins feeding, it’ll cross a threshold of dependency within a few days. Once this point is reached, the flea requires a constant source of blood for survival.

One study observed previously unfed fleas. When the fleas fed from a host for five days, and were then removed, death occurred within 2-4 days. When the feeding time was restricted to 12 hours, the fleas didn’t reach the point of dependency, and some lived as long as 14 days after being removed from the host.

Females Starve Sooner than Males

Fleas are anautogenous, which means they require host blood to successfully mate and reproduce. And females need a blood meal before every egg deposition. As a result, actively reproducing females must feed continually in order to keep their metabolism in balance for egg production. These females may die in as little as 24 hours after host removal.

References

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Discussion

  • george July 7, 2016, 2:35 pm

    Our house is flee infested and has been for a long time, is it possible to leave our house for a week to starve them from blood, can anyone contribute some constructive ideas to help rid our house of flees. HELP.

    • Adam Retzer July 8, 2016, 8:35 pm

      Hi George. Sorry to hear about your flea problem.

      Unfortunately, leaving the house for a week won’t end the infestation or starve the fleas. After adult fleas acquire a host, they stay there. So, most adult fleas live permanently on pets.

      Additionally, adult fleas only make up 1-5% of the total infestation. The remaining 95-99% are eggs, larvae, and pupae. In most circumstances, these immature stages live in carpeting. Even after proper treatment is in place, it can take 8 weeks (or longer) for all the immature stages to become adults and die.

      Possibly the biggest challenge in dealing with fleas is the pre-emerged adult stage. After pupating, adults can remain in their cocoons for up to 5 months. They enter into a quiescent (dormant-like) state, waiting to detect a nearby host before they wake up and emerge.

      View our page on How to Get Rid of Fleas. (I apologize the formatting is poor right now, as the site is being redesigned).

    • Alicia May 14, 2017, 8:00 am

      Hello George
      I lived with a horrofic suituation which caused our home to be infested over 2 years so i can imagine what your going through…I learnt that there is a lot misinformation online about ways to eliminate fleas & about fleas themselves….Im new to this site & cant see a date of when your post was but if your still fighting that battle im more than willing to share anything that may help, but i really do hope your battle is over.
      Alicia

  • Tara July 17, 2016, 5:35 pm

    There is some kind of flea like insect in my basement… My dog doesn’t enter the basement and what ever this is it burns and hurts when it bites, it leaves little red dots but goes away in like 20 minutes…
    Very curious…

    • Adam Retzer July 17, 2016, 9:21 pm

      Tara, that is curious. Based on the bite reaction, it doesn’t sound like fleas. Flea bites don’t subside in 20 minutes. The bite reaction typically lasts a few days, and gets very itchy on the second day.

  • Kim July 24, 2016, 10:48 pm

    I have fleas in my basement. My dog and cat have been treated and don’t go in the basement. I have a litter box down there but it rarely used. My basement is partially finished, meaning there are walls. I have 3 areas only using the laundry room, the rest is just storage. We bombed the laundry area about 10 days ago and when I went down there today, it was just as bad as before. Am I wrong in thinking that even without the bomb they should have died with no food source?

    • Adam Retzer July 25, 2016, 9:26 pm

      Kim,

      Adult fleas which have previously fed often die within 10 days of being removed from their host. However, as the article mentions, they can survive slightly longer if they haven’t fed yet. Still, the bug bomb likely had a significant effect on killing the emerged adults.

      Keep in mind, 95-99% of fleas are in immature stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae). These stages eventually mature and emerge as adults, which may be what you’re seeing. Immature stages are also more resistant to adulticides (e.g. the bug bomb).

      If there aren’t animals in the basement, the fleas won’t have food and won’t be to able to survive or reproduce. They’ll die out on their own eventually. But you may have to be patient, waiting for all the immature stages fully mature and perish. And, cocooned pre-emerged adults sometimes go quiescent for up to 5 months, waiting to detect a host before emerging.

      As an extra precaution, ensure that urban wildlife aren’t seeking refuge in your basement, as they can harbor fleas. Common examples are feral cats, opossums, and raccoons.

  • Terry August 1, 2016, 1:58 am

    I placed foggers in my basement, more than required and it did nothing. I had the bug guy spray. Nothing. He suggested putting Borax down so I have and still there are fleas. I know that salt in carpet dries up the eggs and that has worked. If you do not flea comb your pets every morning and night, you will never get ahead. Place the fleas in soapy water. I roll them between my fingers to break their legs so they can’t jump out of the water and they drown immediately. Eggs put in the soapy water immediately turn to blood so you know that next generation – won’t be!

    • Alicia May 14, 2017, 1:41 pm

      Fleas are attracked to light & heat, try putting candles in the middle of the area (if its quit big or has lots of stuff placed place some in different areas) fleas will jump into the flame, they can miss so maybe sprinkle some Borax (lab grade) on the floor before placing the candles its not an instant resolve to a flea problem as nothing is but it will help.

  • Keith August 19, 2016, 6:20 am

    I gave my dogs to my sister because I can’t take care of them with my new work schedule. On the second day, I’ve realized that my living room is now full of fleas without a host. What can I do or buy to get rid of them? I wont be having any pets for a long time, no kids and I’m pretty much living alone so I don’t mind if I have to buy something so strong that even if I lick the floor, I’ll end up dead. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Adam Retzer August 21, 2016, 9:50 pm

      Adult fleas live on hosts and rarely leave. They make up 1-5% of infestations. Eggs, larvae and pupae live in carpets. Immature stages make up 95-99% of the population.

      The adults you’re seeing are emerging from carpets and looking for a host. They’ll soon die off without host blood for sustenance and reproduction. The main problem you’ll need to address is the immature stages. Without a host, these stages will go away on their own as well. However, it will take up to 8 weeks for them to be completely eradicated, as they still have most of their life cycle to develop through.

      Vacuum at least every other day, especially in areas where the dogs liked resting. Vacuuming removes some (not all) eggs, larvae, and pupae. It also forces cocooned adults to emerge. The vacuum’s pressure and heat makes fleas think a host is nearby, so they emerge. Without this trigger, they can remain cocooned and quiescent for up to 5 months.

      Conventional insecticides aren’t too effective on carpets against fleas. This is mainly because they live deep within the fibers, where sprays can’t penetrate. And generally, pre-adult stages are less vulnerable to pesticides than emerged adults.

      Insect growth regulators (IGR) are a better option. They be sprayed onto carpets to kill the immature stages. These compounds mimic the naturally occurring hormones in insects, specifically the hormones which deal with development. When eggs and larvae are exposed to an IGR, they’re unable to complete their metamorphosis into adults. Common IGR ingredients are pyriproxyfen (Nylar) and (s)-methoprene (Precor).

      Most premise sprays contain an adulticide and IGR, such as Precor. However, you can also go with IGR concentrate, forgoing the adulticide. IGRs are considered safer than conventional adulticides, so this may be desirable, especially since you’re mainly targeting the immature stages.

  • Meagan August 23, 2016, 6:42 pm

    We live in a small apartment and my roomates cat kept getting fleas by leaning on the screens of open windows since we’re in the basement right by the lawn. She just moved out a few days ago and without the cat all the fleas are targetting me. All blood sucking insects seem to love my blood and being the target of these fleas is driving my crazy.

    We dont have any carpets nut theyve gotten into our clothes and bedding. I’ve been using spray every few days on all the furniture and deet spray on myself plus a citrus moisturizer since I read they hate the smell but I still have been physically seeing 3+ fleas on me every day for almost a week now. I usually manage to kill 2 of them a day but it doesnt seem to be helping.

    We are planning to put 90% of our clothes into garbage bags and throughly washing the 10% we decide to wear for a couple weeks in hopes killing the fleas from our bedroom. We try to vacuum often but our apartment is so congested its hard to get around all the furniture.

    My spouse says he’s had less fleas landing on him by accident than when the cat was here so the population has gone down but now that theyre specifically targetting me I have 50+ bites on my legs and even some on my arms.

    What more can we do to kill the population? Is there anything else I can use to get them to stop biting me? A specific diet or cream?

    I used a spray called sergeants and another called sentry that are safe for cats and furniture and comtain pyrethrins and permethrin. Do these only kill adults that ingest it or are sprayed with it directly??

    Thank you very much for your help

    • Adam Retzer August 23, 2016, 10:23 pm

      Sorry to hear you’re getting bitten more. Luckily, without the cats, you should be flea-free soon. Fleas can’t survive or reproduce on human blood. So, without a pet, the fleas will go away on their own.

      Fleas become ravenous once the primary host disappears. They’re starving and desperate for blood, so it makes since that you’re getting bit more. Emerged adults will die of starvation in around 7 days. However, over 95% of the population consists of eggs, larvae, and pupae in the environment. As these pre-adult stages reach maturity, you’ll continue seeing adults emerge (for around 8 weeks).

      Adult fleas live on pets, laying eggs there. The eggs fall off within a couple hours, ending up where the hosts frequently rest. Carpeting the most common place to find developing fleas. Pet bedding is also common. Fleas don’t typically develop on clothing or beds. The exceptions are if clothes are laying on the floor, or if the animals are allowed onto the owner’s bed. That said, washing garments and bedding will kill any fleas on them.

      The bites on your arms are unusual. Fleas can only jump to the height of a human ankle. They bite readily without wandering around, and leave the person after feeding. I’d assume you’re getting bitten when sitting on furniture or sleeping in bed. Regarding furniture, remove cushions and pillows, then thoroughly vacuum. Focus on crevices and folds in the fabric. Regarding the bed, launder all the bedding. Afterwards, make sure the sheets aren’t draping down onto the floor. Normally, fleas can’t get into beds without a pet there. They can’t jump high enough. However, if the sheets hanging near the ground, it gives them a route.

      To prevent flea bites, it can help to wear long socks and pants. Tuck the pant legs into the socks. Fleas can’t bite through clothing (exceptions are thin, tight-fitting fabrics). For added protection, permethrin clothing repellent can be sprayed onto the garments. This should help eliminate the need for disagreeable smelling/feeling lotions.

      I’ve never heard of a specific diet preventing flea bites, or anything similar. The best topical deterrents are standard insect repellent ingredients (DEET, IR3535, or picaridin).

      Permethrin and pyrethrins are adulticides. Exposed adult fleas are killed. (By the way, permethrin is highly toxic to cats.) This presents a problem, because adult fleas live permanently on their acquired host. Fleas in the environment are eggs, larvae, and pupae. Adulticides have little effect on eggs. They have limited effect on larvae and pupae. And this effect is greatly diminished, because pre-adult stages are found deep within carpeting where sprays can’t penetrate well.

      Continue vacuuming, even if it’s difficult with all the obstacles. Vacuuming is one the most effective ways to speed up the eradication process.

      You may want to switch to a spray with an insect growth regulator (IGR). IGRs mimic the natural hormones in insects, specifically those regulating development. Exposed eggs and larvae won’t be to able to successfully pupate. IGRs are considered safer than traditional insecticides. Plus they have longer residual activity, persisting for 7 months indoors, which helps prevent re-infestation. Look for the ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or (s)-methoprene (Precor). Your spray may contain an IGR already.

      You can find IGR sprays coupled with adulticides. These are often called premise sprays. Or you can purchase the IGR concentrate, without the adulticide.

  • Christi August 25, 2016, 2:42 pm

    I have seen no signs of fleas in our home, and our dog is treated with Advantix. However, the other evening, I noticed my dog suddenly attacking herself as if she were being bitten. I bathed her, where I found one flea and a lot of flea poop, and then re-treated her with her Advantix. I have vacuumed my house thoroughly, and washed all blankets and pillows on which the dog lies. Our entire house is (unfortunately) carpeted – have I done enough to get rid of the flea issue? Now that my dog has been bathed and retreated with her pesticide (I suspect it may have washed off in the pool), will she continue to fend off the new generations, eventually killing off the entire population, or should I suspect the fleas around here have become immune to Advantix? Are we going to require some assistance from Orkin, or the like? And for future reference, as soon as I can get rid of all this carpeting, what do you recommend we do in the event of fleas, but with no carpeting present? Please help, my sanity depends on it! I have 3 children at home, and don’t have time to lose myself in basically picking eggs out of my 2400sqft of carpet. Why, oh why, is carpeting even a thing?! I’m already starting to freak out!

    • Adam Retzer August 26, 2016, 10:21 pm

      It sounds like you have taken all the correct procedures. And you’ve been proactive, so you shouldn’t be dealing with much of an infestation. Contacting an exterminator shouldn’t be necessary.

      Advantix and other flea drops (Advantage II, and Frontline) are “water-proof”. Still, it’s recommended not to bathe, or let pets swim, more than once weekly. It’s possible for the treatment it to lose it’s effectiveness with continued submersion in water.

      Fleas currently show no signs of resistance to the modern adulticides used in flea drops (e.g. imidacloprid in Advantix). There have been multiple studies done on this. Advantix also contains an insect growth regulator (pyriproxyfen) which will sterilize female fleas. They can’t lay viable eggs even if they survive the adulticide. Thus, it’s unlikely that new generations will survive in your home.

      We’re in the heart of flea season right now. Your dog probably picked up the flea outside. Perhaps the Advantix just hadn’t killed the flea you found yet, as it can take many hours. Regardless, retreating your dog should provide sufficient protection now, for both control and prevention.

      Continue using the flea drops every 30 days, for the recommended duration on the packaging (often 3 to 4 months). Flea drops alone can end an infestation, though concurrent vacuuming is strongly recommended.

      Continue vacuuming regularly. Vacuuming is an important part of flea control, as it removes some of the immature stages and emerging adults from the carpets. It doesn’t sound like you’re dealing with many fleas, but this is still a good preventative measure. Focus on areas where your dog rests.

      Without carpets, areas where immature fleas can develop are limited. Some of the common locations include rugs, pet beds, and kennels. Larvae may also survive in floorboard cracks or crevices around baseboards. Vacuuming/mopping is useful on non-carpeted areas. Pet beds and rugs can be laundered.

      • Christi August 29, 2016, 2:38 pm

        Thank you so much! Per a recommendation I saw on someone else’s post on here, I decided to also spray the carpeting with Precor. We have yet to treat, as I’m waiting for this to arrive in the mail, but I’m assuming this might be considered overkill, which is fine by me!

        I have a new question, however. I’m noticing little white things in my dog’s bed (probably in the carpet, too, but they’re tiny and would be well hidden). They’re not soft or smooth, which is what I’ve read about flea eggs. They’re hard, and look like little half pieces of rice, actually. What might those be?

        • Adam Retzer August 29, 2016, 11:11 pm

          Treating carpets with an IGR, like (s)-methoprene found in Precor, is always good idea. Not only will it help end a current infestation more rapidly, but the IGR will remain residually active for 7 months indoors, preventing re-infestation.

          I’m not sure what those white things are in your dog’s bed. It doesn’t sound like they’re flea related. As you mentioned, the eggs are smooth and collapse when pressed. Larvae are mobile and also soft-bodied. It’s possible that they’re flea cocoons or naked pupae. However, these stages usually aren’t white. The lion’s share of pupae develop in cocoons. Larvae spin sticky silk-like material around them, and because it’s sticky, debris from the environment adheres and camouflages it. Finding cocoons is very difficult.

          • Cassie November 18, 2016, 11:52 pm

            Christi, the white rice-like things are tapeworms, which the pet can get when they ingest fleas because the fleas carry tapeworm. You can easily treat the tapeworm with a pill, but if you aren’t rid of the fleas, then you may need to treat for the tapeworm more than once.

  • Sheri August 29, 2016, 4:30 am

    My dog used to have fleas. In December when I sold my house I put everything in storage until April. Now almost September I have found 4 or 5 fleas. I got rid of all my rugs all my furniture except for my bed and a chair. Is there a chance that I still have them?? I’m so frustrated! Why would I just now be getting them if I haven’t seen any since I moved. Please help!!!

    • Adam Retzer August 30, 2016, 12:30 am

      Hi Sheri,

      It’s highly unlikely that the fleas survived on your belongings in storage for that long. Pre-emerged adults, the most hardy life stage, can only remain quiescent and survive for up to 5 months. Plus, most immature fleas live in carpets and pet beds. Though, some can be found on rugs and furniture.

      The fleas you’re currently seeing are likely from a completely new infestation, acquired from your dog while outdoors. We’re in the midst of flea season right now. Unfortunately, it sounds like you’re dealing with a new flea problem.

      • Alicia May 14, 2017, 1:48 pm

        Fleas can remain in pupae stage for a year & rare cases even longer.

  • Sherry September 10, 2016, 9:50 am

    I have used every home remedies from Lemons to Apple cider nothing works it’s a lie to get you to buy these products I know I have tried them all on my Shih Tzu the fleas live him he must have a certain type of skin cause there will be over 50 on him an I had to put the little guy outside my home was getting to many fleas, no I can’t get rid of them. Help! What to do, Does bombs really work? I am running out of options

    • Adam Retzer September 10, 2016, 10:15 am

      Hello Sherry,

      Natural remedies, even if they did work, rarely take into account the entire flea life cycle. Adult fleas only account for 1-5% of the total population and live permanently on their host. 95-99% of the infestation are eggs, larvae, and pupae living in the carpets. If these pre-adult stages aren’t targeted, they’ll mature and continue emerging from carpets to infest the dog.

      Bug bombs may work, depending on the ingredients. However, a better option is to use a spray that can be directed specifically at the carpets. You’ll want to find a spray with an insect growth regulator. Look for the ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or (s)-methoprene (Precor). For more information, please visit our page on How to Get Rid of Fleas. It goes into the detail on how to effectively eliminate fleas.

  • Devonia September 15, 2016, 12:54 pm

    First time ever with fleas, we moved from Hawaii to Georgia yard had fleas day one. We fogger the house 4 cans upstairs in 3 downstairs. Now I see tiny fleas have used vinger spraying Please Help!!!

    • Adam Retzer September 15, 2016, 3:15 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your flea problem, Devonia. Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas for a comprehensive guide. Unfortunately, your current control methods have a slim chance of getting rid of the fleas.

  • Katie September 20, 2016, 10:43 am

    We received a hand me down baby bouncy seat. We had it in our possession for at least for months, 3 months at a new home. We kept it in a room that has been used infrequently, and we have no pets. When we decided we didn’t want the chair we gave it to friends who have a cat. During the time we brought it over they had lots of guest coming and going from their house and soon had a flea problem. The pest control thought the fleas originated from this chair, saying most of the fleas or flea activity was on it. I am concerned we may have a problem with cocoons, larvae, and eggs.

    We have noticed no fleas, once a few months ago i had weird bites around my ankle, but i was told they were chigger bites and once treated with nail polish they went away. My husband has never had any bites, nor my newborn. Nor the two guests who slept in that room on two different weekends. Or our niece who played with the toy. Or myself when i put the toy back together.

    I guess my question is what constitutes as a “nearby host”? Is it only a cat who may be spending significant time directly on the chair- in their situation. Or is it unlikely it came from that toy/our home.

    I called pest control and they told me to vacuum the room and put a shallow bowl with water/dish soap and light- so i am currently doing that trap.

    Also, myself and my husband spent lots of time on the floor puttinf together furniture, going through baby clothes, we both even fell alseep on the floor for an hour or so.
    I should also mention i recieved many things from the same friend who gave me the bouncy chair.

    Thank you in advance!
    Katie

    • Adam Retzer September 21, 2016, 1:32 pm

      Hello Katie. It’s highly unlikely that the chair was the cause of your friend’s flea problem. First, you don’t have pets. Second, you don’t have fleas (haven’t noticed fleas). Third, it’s doubtful that fleas would survive 3 months on an item like that, even if they got on it in the first place. Fourth, we are in the midst of peak flea season right now. September and October are the worst months for fleas in the United States. In all likelihood, your friend’s infestation came from a nearby outdoor source. One of their many guests coming and going probably brought in a flea and it quickly reproduced. They are seeing fleas around the baby bouncy seat because it’s likely to be on the floor in a bedroom or living room, where the cat spends a lot of time. This is where fleas develop.

      It doesn’t sound you like have fleas. You should be in the clear, and don’t need to take any precautionary steps. Your friend’s infestation likely didn’t come from the chair you gave them. It sounds like they are frustrated by the appearance of the fleas and are looking for something/someone to blame.

      A nearby host in homes is most often a cat or dog. But the stimuli that trigger cocoon emergence are heat and physical pressure. So, any warm-blooded animal resting on the cocoon would trigger emergence. People walking on carpets can cause emergence, as well as vacuuming.

      • Katie September 21, 2016, 8:58 pm

        Thank you so much! That was kind of what i thought/hoped. But seeing we recieved the chair from a friend who has pets and lives on a farm, and cocoons can last uo to 5 months without a host, plus those weird bites i got one time. I thought that it may be possible.
        I really appreciate your help with this! Guess I can cancel my pest control apt?

        • Adam Retzer September 23, 2016, 2:49 pm

          No problem. I don’t think you need any pest control, as it doesn’t sound like you have fleas.

  • TRACY September 29, 2016, 11:35 am

    I have two dogs that slept in my unfinished concrete basement, they are treated for fleas and have not been in my house for over two months. And we are have a huge problem with fleas in my basement, we have had orkin treat the area 3 times and we still get fleas daily in the homemade water/light traps we have made…how is it possible there are fleas down there when no one or animal is ever in the basement? I’m going crazy over this…HELP

    • Adam Retzer September 29, 2016, 3:08 pm

      So the treated dogs were sleeping in the basement? How often do they sleep in the basement? What were they treated with?

      I’m not sure what’s meant when you say “no one or animal is ever in the basement”, when you also say your dogs sleep there. It’s possible that urban wildlife have taken refuge in the basement and initiated an infestation. Raccoons, opossums and feral cats are common hosts of cat fleas. If an infested animal enters the basement, it won’t take long before an infestation starts. Each female flea lays around 25 eggs a day. The eggs are laid on the host, but fall off within a few hours. Immature fleas develop in the environment.

      Even after proper treatment is in place, fleas will continue emerging for many weeks. Immature stages make up 95-99% of the infestation and are somewhat resistant to chemical treatments. The flea life cycle, from egg to adult, often completes in 17 to 26 days. Though, as this article mentions, pre-emerged adults can stay quiescent for up to 5 months.

      • Tracy September 29, 2016, 3:23 pm

        Sorry that was confusing, my dogs slept in my basement up until two months ago when we noticed fleas down there. They are treated with nexgaurd chewable tablets and bathed frequently.
        Since the fleas were spot I moved the dogs to our garage not attached to my house and I have made my family avoid the basement, hoping to keep the problem in the basement.
        I’m just confused as to where they could be living there or laying dormant, we have vacuumed multiple times as well…any ideas what we could do to eliminate them? I have little kids I hate orkin spraying all these chemicals in my home. Thanks in advance!

        • Adam Retzer September 30, 2016, 2:04 pm

          If all animals are kept out of the basement, the fleas will go away on their own. 5 months is the maximum they can survive. However, most will die within a month.

          You can speed up the process by continuing to vacuum. Flea larvae seek refuge in dark areas. They actively avoid light. Plus, larvae require adult flea feces (flea dirt) for nutrition. Thus, focus the vacuuming on areas where debris collects on the floor. Common areas would be cracks in the concrete, corners of the room, or crevices near baseboards.

          You may want to contact Orkin and ask if they sprayed an insect growth regulator (IGR), such as pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). These compounds mimic natural insect hormones and prevent immature fleas from maturing into adults. Plus, they stay active for longer than conventional insecticides. An IGR will remain effective for 7 months indoors. If they didn’t spray one, you can purchase IGR concentrate relatively cheaply, for example Martin’s IGR on Amazon.

  • ME 💩😏😎😋🦄 September 30, 2016, 7:10 pm

    Hi, I don’t understand! I live with my parents and our pets have fleas and they turn down my ideas of vaccuming everyday, using flea combs, using flea bombs, and checking our pets for fleas everyday. They don’t think it’s a big deal at all and they say,” Oh we have had a MAJOR flea problem in South Carolina with our past dog and we had to call an exterminator all the time,” and things along the line of that. They go about their day like nothing has happened! They haven’t even taken our cat to the vet to get not over the counter flea medicine!! How can I convince them we need to take more action?

    • Adam Retzer October 1, 2016, 3:48 pm

      I’m not sure I can help much. It sounds like they don’t mind having a flea infestation. The best argument you can make is that it isn’t fair to your pets. Adult fleas live permanently on the host once it’s acquired, and they are continually feeding. This bites cause a lot of discomfort for the animal, especially if they have flea allergy dermatitis. It’s also possible for the fleas to be vectors for disease.

  • Stacie October 2, 2016, 8:12 pm

    I am having a problem with cat fleas in my house. I have 3 cats, one of them goes outside and bright the fleas back in with him. They are all now treated with advantage ll. I have 2 questions for you. 1. I found what I think is fleas on my daughters heads, both on different days, but both of the fleas I found where very big compared to all the other ones I have been finding either on the cats or in the house. Could these be a different kind of flea? Or could they just be feeding off my daughters heads? My second question is once the cats are treated and I’m vacuuming every day about 3 times a day everything is being washed, the sheets and blankets and pillows, if the cats still have eggs on them, are the eggs dead or are they still alive and going to hatch? And once they do hatch if I don’t get them all will they eventually die off because the cats are treated? Thanks for your time I’m really hoping for some kind of answer with this, I’ve never had fleas before so I’m lost here.

    • Adam Retzer October 3, 2016, 4:00 pm

      Fleas don’t usually go in people’s hair. However, they may if the cats rest on the person’s bed, or if the person lays on the floor. When fleas bite people, they leave immediately afterwards. So, though they may bite, they won’t be living in your daughter’s hair.

      Fleas are often close to the same size, regardless of the species that infest domestic settings. This website focuses on cat fleas (C. felis), which is by far the most common species. There are human fleas (P. irritans), but they are much more rare. If what you found is “very big” compared to the other fleas, then they may not be fleas at all. View our article: How big are fleas.

      Advantage II contains the active ingredient pyriproxyfen (Nylar). This is an insect growth regulator (IGR). IGRs mimic natural insect hormones that regulate development. When adult females are exposed to an IGR, they’ll become sterile. When eggs (and larvae) are exposed to an IGR, they won’t be able to complete their metamorphosis into adults.

      It’s possible that some of the females/eggs will avoid exposure to the IGR on the pet. That’s why vacuuming and laundering is important as well. This is also why it may be a good idea to spray the carpets with an IGR. For example, Precor premise spray contains an adulticide and IGR. You can also find the IGR alone in concentrate form, if you don’t want to spray conventional insecticides inside your home.

      If the eggs do survive to adulthood, they will eventually jump onto the treated cats, and then they will die. This is why it’s important to continue treating the cats for the recommended duration on the packaging. If there is a lapse in treatment, or if the treatment is halted early, then this will give the few surviving fleas a chance to procreate.

      If the cats don’t sleep on your bedding, or are restricted from entering bedrooms, then you won’t need to launder your bedding. However, laundering rugs and pet beds weekly is still advisable.

  • ALICIA October 3, 2016, 12:25 pm

    Please help! I have a vacant house. We have been remodeling for a year and 1/2. However, 2 months ago, my husband decided to let the neighbor’s feral cat in and feed it. He was roaming through our house for about 15 minutes on 3 different occasions. I know for a fact it has fleas, because our neighbor said it did. At this time, all the floors are concrete (awaiting new carpet and hardwood), except the tile in the kitchen. Some of the baseboards are also pulled up because they are to be replaced. We have not worked at the house for 2 months after my husband let the cat in. However, this weekend we worked over there for 5 hours. I noticed a couple of bites on my legs, but no one else noticed anything. What are the chances that eggs fell off this cat in his 3 quick visits, and how do I get rid of any kid of infestation on concrete flooring if I can’t vacuum every day? I also read that concrete is absorbs sprays and won’t leave a residual. I am also treating our current house and have had exterminators out 2 times. I need to make sure the bites aren’t from our current house. They used Ultracide with IGR and we vacuumed for 14 days everyday, then resprayed per directions and have vacuumed everyday again, but we are only 1 week into the 2nd spray. We have not had any bites since the first spray, that’s why I’m scared it came from the vacant house? Please help! I’m scared to lay new floors in case these little boogers are laying dormant and decide to pop out after the new carpet and hardwood is laid.

    • Adam Retzer October 3, 2016, 4:17 pm

      It’s possible that eggs fell from the infested cat when it entered your home. However, the eggs will have a difficult time developing on concrete or tiled floors. Upon hatching, the larvae also require adult flea feces (flea dirt) to consume or they’ll starve. So the flea dirt would have had to fall from the cat along with eggs, in the same locations.

      Fleas need a host for the infestation to continue. Once they reach adulthood, in 17-26 days, the majority will starve within a couple weeks. However, the quiescent (dormant-like) cocooned adults may survive for a maximum for 5 months.

      Though you can’t vacuum daily, it may be a good idea to vacuum when you visit the house. Focus on areas where debris collects, such as cracks in the floor or crevices near baseboards.

      Utlracide contains the IGR pyriproxyfen. A study showed that pyriproxyfen remains residually active on a variety of construction materials (wood, metal and concrete).

      • ALICIA October 5, 2016, 6:57 am

        So, when you say the quiescent (dormant-like) cocooned adults may survive for 5 months…..does that mean that eggs actually hatched, went through the larva stage, and then went into the cocoon stage? I’m just trying to find out how realistic that this would have happened from a cat walking through a few times. So if they never had a host there, most would starve, so how would there be any that could go into a cocooned stage?

        thank you so much, these fleas are driving me crazy!

        • Adam Retzer October 5, 2016, 4:12 pm

          Yes, the quiescent pre-emerged stage comes after metamorphosis into an adult. Here’s how the flea life cycle is roughly broken down:

          • Egg
          • Larva
          • Pupa (in cocoon)
          • Pre-emerged adult (in cocoon)
          • Emerged adult

          It may not be likely that fleas are developing in the home. But it is possible. If the cat already had fleas when it entered the home, then eggs probably fell in there. Each female flea lays around 25 eggs a day. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall from the animal within a few hours of being laid.

          Upon hatching from eggs, the larvae require adult flea feces (which accumulates on the cat and falls off) and other eggs to feed upon. Both of these nutritional components would be available in the environment if the cat rested in one particular location, especially if it groomed there. Or debris could move around and accumulate in cracks and corners (along with eggs and flea dirt).

          If the larvae were able to feed, they would eventually pupate into adults. After which, some of the adults may remain inside their cocoons in a quiescent state, waiting for a host. The emerged adults will starve within a week or two. But the cocooned quiescent adults can survive for up to 5 months.

  • heather October 16, 2016, 8:58 pm

    This is a great site and I have learned a lot from reading the discussion posts. But I still have a few questions. My mom was visiting with her dog until about 5 weeks ago. She stays in our basement which is partially finished and the rest is storage. About two weeks ago I noticed I was getting lots of bug bites. Finally a week ago we saw fleas in our living room.We realized that the basement was hopping with fleas, likely from the dog that is no longer here. We put all blankets, pillows, clothes and bedding in the wash. And the clean stuff is being kept in bags so no fleas can get back in. I have vacuumed everything and everywhere I can everyday. We have small children so I didn’t want to use any chemicals to treat for fleas unless absolutely necessary. So I covered all the floors with diatomaceous earth. I left it in upper levels for 12-24 hours before vacuuming. We see only maybe 2 fleas day upstairs now and I don’t know if I have more bites because I have so many I don’t know if they are new. Our biggest problem is the basement. the basement has been covered with diatomaceous earth for 4 days now and every time we go down there (using the pants tucked into sock trick) there are fleas on us. It’s less than before. Now it might be 5-6 each trip down to do laundry but I am not looking at my feet the whole time. But they are still there. The diatomaceous earth doesn’t seem to be killing them. And I am really worried about all the stuff in storage and all the places they could be laying eggs that I cannot get to with the vacuum. We have a lot of stuff crammed in the storage areas. I have a dehumidifier down there to lower the humidity to hopefully dry out the eggs. All this extra work every day is a lot of stress. What else can I do? Do I need to call pest control or will things start to resolve soon? How can I kill the larvae in hard to reach places?

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2016, 5:11 pm

      Heather, thanks for the compliments on the site.

      The fleas are likely starving to death and are thus becoming ravenous, causing them to immediately jump onto and bite you upon entering the basement. The good news is that fleas can’t survive and reproduce without a pet in your home. You don’t need to worry about them laying new eggs or infesting anything in storage.

      Diatomaceous earth is lauded online as an effective natural solution for killing fleas. However, there haven’t been any studies done to prove this. It probably has a moderate efficacy at best. Regardless, without pets, the fleas will die out on their own in your home. In your situation, vacuuming is all that’s necessary and you won’t need to use chemicals.

      The fleas should be gone soon. The flea life cycle, from egg to adult, completes in 17 to 26 in days. So the last eggs laid in your home should have reached adulthood already. The main problem is the pre-emerged adult stage. Cocooned adults can stay quiescent (dormant-like) for up to 5 months while waiting for a host. They’ll immediately emerge upon detecting heat and physical pressure (indicative of a host).

      Vacuuming is a good way to force cocooned adults to emerge, and it will then suck them up when they do. Also, as you’ve noticed, walking around with the pants and tucked socks is also a good way to force cocooned adults to emerge. They’ll jump onto you and can then be killed.

      Using a dehumidifier isn’t an effective control measure, because immature stages develop in micro-habitats with their own regulated micro-environments. The larvae actively seek out dark, humid, protected areas. And, in your case, the immature stages should all be gone by now.

      Hope this helps! Warm regards,
      Adam

      • Heather October 17, 2016, 7:49 pm

        Thank you SOOO much for your quick response! My original message was still on my phone for some reason so I just resubmitted it and then I saw your response so you can disregard that. As for your response. Great info, but if you are able to stick with me, I have some follow up questions. If the fleas are biting me, won’t I be providing the blood they need to reproduce and begin the life cycle all over again? Also, I have read that adult fleas can go 7 months without feeding again. Is that true?? Although I suppose the vacuuming will eventually get them. And to get the cocooned fleas to reemerge, I can try working my way through boxes in the basement and throwing stuff in the dryer to get them to emerge. Would spraying some steam in boxes of stuff that I cannot put into the dryer also work? I also got some of the electric flea traps. I can move them around to see if that helps. they have caught about 40 fleas so far although I still have fleas jump on me within feet of the traps so maybe that doesn’t work so well. I am seeing a glimmer of hope here. Thank you so much Adam!

        • Adam Retzer October 18, 2016, 1:14 pm

          Fleas can’t survive and reproduce on human blood. Without pets, a flea infestation can’t continue. After adult fleas emerge from their cocoons, they’ll die of starvation within a week or two. They can’t survive for 7 months without eating. The only stage that can survive for an extended period of time (up to 5 months) is the cocooned pre-emerged adult in a quiescent stage.

          Flea eggs fall from infested animals, and in most circumstances develop somewhere on the ground. It’s doubtful that the eggs fell onto the items in your storage boxes. The exception would be if an infested animal laid on the items, which would give the eggs a chance to fall there. If you truly believe fleas have developed on these stored items, than laundering them will kill the fleas. Steaming will also likely have a detrimental effect on the fleas.

          Flea traps aren’t all that effective for controlling fleas. They are useful for assessing flea populations, and for determining when the infestation is over. That said, the traps are useful for attracting and trapping some of the emerging fleas, so there will be less to jump onto you when you enter the basement.

          • Heather October 18, 2016, 6:05 pm

            Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Reading all the other sites I have encountered over the past few weeks were really freaking me out, well that and the fleas themselves. Your advice is thorough and very comforting! Wish I had found this site first! Thank you!!!

  • Candice October 20, 2016, 4:32 pm

    I am 6 months pregnant, and my cat has fleas that are now biting me. Doyou have any suggestions for treating my cat and home for fleas safely?

    • Adam Retzer October 20, 2016, 5:20 pm

      I’ve never read anything saying that topical flea treatments, if used properly, are unsafe for pregnant women. However, if you want to completely forgo using chemical treatments, then the best procedures you can take are:

      • Removing all fleas from the cat with a flea comb daily
      • Vacuuming every other day
      • Laundering rugs and pet bedding weekly

      If it isn’t a light infestation, then these steps may not be enough. You may want to consider spraying the carpets with an insect growth regulator (IGR), such as Martin’s IGR. IGRs are considered safer than traditional insecticides, because they mimic natural insect hormones, specifically those that regulate development. Exposed eggs and larvae won’t be able to reach adulthood.

      Keep in mind, only 1-5% of the fleas are adults. And they live on the cat. The other 95-99% are eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment. Both the cat and the environment need to be dealt with. If the fleas aren’t removed from the cat, then the females will each lay around 25 eggs a day, which then fall into the environment. If the environment is ignored, then there will always be new adults springing up to infest the cat.

  • kittycatmeow October 23, 2016, 9:12 am

    hello my cat has fleas what remedy should I use?!?

  • Haley October 24, 2016, 6:22 pm

    I had a cat a few months ago with a flea infestation. She’s since been rehomed and treated, my house was infested. We bombed and treated as much as we could afford, & they’re mostly gone but there are a few strays when it gets warm during the day. It’s been a month or 2 since the peak of infestation but I’m worried that since its cold season they’re only sleeping. Is there anyway I can get rid of them while they are dormant?

    • Adam Retzer October 29, 2016, 3:52 pm

      You shouldn’t have much of a problem now that the cat is gone. No life stage has a true dormant or hibernation period related to cold weather. The closest thing are pre-emerged adults, which can go quiescent for up to 5 months while they wait for a host. Once they detect heat and pressure, which indicate a host, they’ll wake up and emerge from their cocoons within seconds. Vacuuming simulates these host cues and can force the quiescent fleas to emerge.

  • Gina November 12, 2016, 12:20 pm

    I put down my dog almost 2 weeks ago. I’m still seeing flees. Even though, I flee bomb, sprayed flee Raid and pour salt over everything inch of the floor. How long will I continue to see Flees?

    • Adam Retzer November 12, 2016, 4:14 pm

      It usually takes around 8 weeks for the fleas to completely disappear. Immature stages (eggs, larvae, pupae) make up 95-99% of the infestation and live in carpets. They develop at the base of the carpeting where insecticide treatments can’t penetrate well, so many will avoid being killed. These stages have to emerge as adults and die before the infestation completely ends.

      The flea life cycle, from egg to adult, completes in 17-26 days in homes. However, once metamorphosis is complete, the adults can stay quiescent within their cocoons for up to 5 months while they wait for a host. They will emerge within seconds once they detect heat and pressure, which indicate a host resting on the cocoon. Vacuuming is best way to simulate these host cues and force emergence.

      One of the best ways to speed up the eradication process is vacuuming. It will remove some of the eggs, larvae, pupae and emerging adults from the carpets. And it will force the pre-emerged adults to emerge from their cocoons.

  • Frank November 17, 2016, 7:23 pm

    My dog was old and died at home. I went down and the morning about 3 a.m. to check on her because we decided to put her down the next day. When I went to check on her, her body was cool. So I’m assuming that because her body cool down the fleas left from The Host. Now I have the problem of fleas being in my house and trying to bite on us. How do I fix this problem.

    • Adam Retzer November 19, 2016, 5:19 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog. Yes, the fleas will abandon the host once it dies and the body cools. They’ll try to find a new host. If you don’t have any other pets in the home, then these fleas will die on their own. Adult fleas usually die of starvation within 2 weeks.

      Though fleas can’t survive or reproduce on human blood, they will sometimes bite people. A good way to prevent the bites is to wear pants and socks, and then tuck the pant legs into the socks. Fleas can’t bite through most fabrics. Alternatively, permethrin insect repellent for clothing can be used.

      95-99% of the flea infestation consists of eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment. There will eb no new eggs laid, but the immature stages currently in the carpets will need to reach maturity and then die before the infestation completely ends. This usually takes around 8 weeks. Vacuuming regularly is one of the best ways to speed up the eradication process. These stages live at the base of carpets, so insecticide sprays aren’t all that effective because they can’t penetrate through the fibers. Sprays will kill the emerged adults in the home, but they only make up 1-5% of the population, and they can be removed by vacuuming.

  • Peggy December 5, 2016, 11:01 pm

    Thank you for this very informative article! There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet regarding flea prevention and control and this article helped to clarify some things for me. Having said that, I’d like your opinion on our situation.
    While playing with our five month old Havanese puppy about a month ago, I noticed a flea crawling across his exposed belly. I was able to pluck it out with a pair of tweezers and flush it down the toilet. This was on a Saturday and we couldn’t see our vet until the following Tuesday. During that time, I saw two smaller fleas crawling around underneath his chin. We bathed him in his regular shampoo, keeping him in the water for a good ten minutes, and saw no fleas. We also vacuumed the carpet and washed his bedding and toys. When we finally saw the vet, she put him on Advantage Multi and suggested that we spray our house with Siphotrol. Because we were desperate, we agreed to treat our puppy, even though he was very young and small, and he didn’t react well to the treatment. However for a variety of reasons, we are strongly opposed to the use of pesticides in our home. So we went to route of vacuuming daily with a Dyson vacuum cleaner, washing bedding, toys, area rugs etc. several times a week and used a combination of diatomaceous earth, salt and baking soda on the carpets upstairs. We bought four Victor flea traps and placed them where we thought there may be fleas and so far, no fleas have been caught. We thought we were in the clear, but about a week ago (right around the time that the Advantage would have worn off) I noticed flea dirt in our puppy’s bedding. We have decided to get rid of the wall to wall carpeting upstairs and lay engineered hardwood flooring instead.
    We have a two story house with a finished, walk out basement (a total of three floors). The upstairs floor has wall-to-wall carpeting but the other two have a combination of hardwood, laminate and tile with area rugs. We keep a very tidy home, with nothing lying around on the floors etc. Our puppy sleeps in a crate on my nightstand, next to our bed.
    So here are my questions…
    -do you think that by removing the carpeting upstairs we will increase our chances of controlling the fleas in our home?
    -do you have any suggestions around how and when to most effectively remove the carpeting and ensure that no fleas in any stage remain? (We would of course maintain regular vacuuming, washing of bedding etc. once carpet is removed.)
    – Given that our puppy is currently being treated, our vet suggested that we let him wander the house, picking up and killing adult fleas as he goes. But I’m wondering if it would be better to limit his activity to the main floor for now. I can carry him up to his crate at night.
    I have looked into some highly recommended natural sprays formulated by Dr. Karen Becker (using essential oils etc.) are available for flea prevention, but I’m wondering if that would apply to flea treatment as well. Or would you suggest that r puppy continue to be treated? If so, for how long?

    I forgot to add that when we found the flea dirt in our puppy’s bed, we did treat him a second time, so he is currently on Advantage Multi, plus we are washing, cleaning and vacuuming on a regular basis. We live near Toronto, Canada so it is currently cold and fairly dry. We will have the carpet removed within the coming few weeks. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Adam Retzer December 7, 2016, 1:45 pm

      Removing the carpeting will make controlling fleas a bit easier. But there are still areas of other floor types that fleas can develop in, namely cracks in the flooring, crevices around baseboards, and other areas where debris collects.

      If you want to completely avoid using any chemicals in the home, then it sounds like you’re doing everything right for eliminating the fleas (vacuuming and laundering pet bedding).

      Letting the treated puppy wander the house will help him pick up emerging fleas, and the fleas will then die. This is especially useful for causing pre-emerged adults to emerge. These stages can otherwise stay dormant for up to 5 months. But they readily emerge when they detect a host resting on the cocoons (heat and pressure). However, vacuuming can also simulate these host cues. You could quarantine his activity if you wanted, as long as you’re diligent with vacuuming.

      Natural flea sprays formulated with botanical ingredients, such as essential oils, aren’t proven to be effective. I’ve never been able to find any studies done with these compounds and fleas. The reports of success are all anecdotal. They may offer some benefit, but I wouldn’t solely rely on them for control.

      I’d suggest continuing the treatment of Advantage for the recommended duration on the labeling or advice from the veterinarian. Usually this is 3-4 months. Flea infestations take this long to end, because all of the immature stages in the environment need to mature, emerge and die. Usually this takes at least 8 weeks, sometimes longer. Even with regular vacuuming, laundering, and using insecticide sprays, some of the immature stages will survive. If the pet is untreated, it only takes a couple of fleas to survive and begin laying eggs to continue the infestation. This is also why it’s important not to allow a lapse in monthly treatments.

      The good news is your infestation sounds to be mild, because you aren’t finding any fleas in the traps. It shouldn’t be difficult to bring it under control.

  • Cindy December 7, 2016, 12:15 am

    We got my daughters cat about 5 months ago. Right before we got him we baby sat a kitten. She had fleas. My daughters cat was grieving very bad. We got him because she’s pregnant and was told not healthy to be around. He put himself in her old bedroom where he was last with her. We had no idea he was being pleaged with fleas. He stopped eating and wouldn’t come near us. I would go in the room every day try petting he’s a Maine coon so he’s rather large. As soon as I realized I treated him and put a light over a bowl of soapy water. I started seeing a few. After I removed him from that room and shut it off with a towel blocking under door. He hasn’t been in that room in 5 months and I go in about every three weeks. Put new water down and dump well over 50 or more fleas. Nothing has changed its still getting a bowl full and to leave the room my husband sits outside the door with a bowl of soapy water and we pull them off of me usually have atleast 5 on me. I continue to treat the cat. He won’t even go down the hall way. I’ve got a light in here in the living room and we might get two fleas every month. I put drops on him every three weeks. He scratches I search him I can’t find any bug he has sores on him from scratching. I don’t know what to do to get rid of them. There in no way slowing down in that closed off room. Help. If my daughter sees him with these sore all over him she will die. He only makes it three weeks after the drops. He will start looking better feeling better then it hits the third week and he goes to scratching all over. No flea is getting on us at all unless we go in that room.

    • Adam Retzer December 7, 2016, 12:53 pm

      Hello Cindy. It sounds like the control is working is you aren’t finding any fleas on the cat. As far as eliminating the fleas from the environment, specifically the one room, it would be a good idea to vacuum regularly. Another option is to spray it with an premise spray, such as Precor 2000. View our article on How to get rid of fleas for a comprehensive overview.

    • Alysen December 7, 2016, 5:23 pm

      Cindy, research Capstar. It’s cheap and amazing. You can now buy it over the counter.

  • Valerie December 9, 2016, 3:09 am

    This is the first time I have experience flea infestation. I have a 12 years old mini poodle. I’m going crazy, not getting much sleep and constantly thinking about fleas! This happened on the middle of October. While bathing her, I noticed she had a few fleas on her, I thought nothing of it. A few weeks later, I noticed waking up in the morning, I was getting bites from fleas. She sleep with us in her own bed. So I removed her out of the room and now she’s at the living room. I was using organic flea spray and it wasn’t that much help! I also treated my dog with advantix and give her a flea bath every two weeks. When I checked her now I’m finding one flea a day. I’m still continually vacuuming my house and especially my room. Then I decided to bomb our room. It helped a bit but I’m still getting bites from fleas! So I decided to hire a exterminator and he was using a chemical called Zanproc ec? I also noticing when I’m vacuuming I still see fleas after the extermination! Please help!

    • Adam Retzer December 12, 2016, 4:19 pm

      What you’re experiencing is fairly normal. It sounds like the fleas went untreated for a while. This means they were freely reproducing and laying many eggs. Each female produces around 25 eggs a day. The eggs are a laid on the host, but they aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours. When you started treatment, you likely had a large reservoir of developing fleas in your carpets. And eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment account for 95-99% of the total population.

      The monthly Advantix treatments will kill emerging adults as they jump onto the dog. You may be noticing a flea here or there on the dog, because the treatment doesn’t kill them instantly. It can take a few hours. However, they will succumb in time, and before they do, the insect growth regular in the Advantix will sterilize the females so they can’t lay eggs. So, there’ll be no new generation to continue the infestation.

      You’ll just have to contend with fleas already developing in the environment. The infestation will be over once they all mature, emerge, and die. Usually this takes around 8 weeks, but it can be longer. Unfortunately, applying insecticides won’t be able to kill all the fleas. Most immature stages develop at the base of carpets where sprays can’t penetrate. The adulticide treatments are most effective at killing emerged and emerging adults, but there won’t be many at any given time.

      You’ll likely continue to see fleas emerge from the environment for some weeks, with diminishing numbers as time goes on. Maintain the monthly schedule for Advantix, for the labeled recommended duration. And continue vacuuming regularly. Vacuuming will remove emerging adults, and also forces cocooned adults to emerge (otherwise they could stay quiescent for up to 5 months).

  • Finlay January 11, 2017, 12:58 pm

    I’ve just moved into a static caravan that’s been empty for some considerable time with no heating on but my dog now has fleas could they have been in the caravan all the time?

    • Adam Retzer January 11, 2017, 2:25 pm

      It depends upon how long the caravan was empty, or how cold it got inside. The longest fleas could survive is 5-6 months. This extended longevity is due to cocooned adults going quiescent until they detect a host. And freezing temperatures will kill any flea stage.

      So, if the caravan was vacant for more than 6 months, or it got to near-freezing temperatures inside, then it’s highly unlikely that the fleas came from the caravan.

  • Kellie Bodine January 24, 2017, 11:13 pm

    Will regular vinager kill fleas, how often should it be used?

  • Margherita Cardone January 29, 2017, 5:12 am

    I apologize I wasn’t done when I accidentally submitted my comments before:

    I have a 12 and a 10 years old dogs… Since Monday I’ve been also fostering another 2 years old dog… I took my dogs to the vet on Wednesday and the vet noticed between their fur some black “debris” and told me that they had a little bit of fleas…for how long could they had fleas to show this black “debris” (which I supposed is from the cocoons but I am not sure)? I am trying to figure out how long ago the problem started to determine how bad can the infestation be … They sleep in the bed with me but only tonight I saw the 1st flea…I applied Frontline to all 3 dogs on Wednesday night but I can still see the black “debris” is on them, I didn’t want to give them a bath until be sure the treatment had enough time on them (I know it won’t wash but I don’t want to take the chance to diminish its efficiency). I am washing or throwing away their beds, my bedding, and so on… I am doing laundry with hot water but I just moved and I don’t have a dryer (will washing still kill fleas in all their stages even though I don’t have a dryer?)… Only 2 bedrooms have carpet (one is the guest bedroom and we don’t go in there very often) and mine where we sleep… My foster dog is now sleeping on the carpet of my bedroom but after reading about the topic tonight I am not sure if that’s ok or not… Also, for what I understand keeping up the monthly Frontline in all 3 dogs the fleas will eventually be gone but washing and vacuuming will help to accelerate the process…correct? Should I put baking soda on the carpet before vacuuming or anything else that Pet friendly that you could recommend? My 2 dogs seem to be scratching less while the foster was more bothered yesterday… How do I know if the patio is what it needs an exterminator? I hear that there are seasons when fleas are more of a problem than others, when? Thank you so much for your help…

    • Adam Retzer January 30, 2017, 2:54 pm

      Hello Margherita,

      The black debris is actually the fleas’ poop (flea dirt). It’s hard to know exactly how long the dogs had fleas based on this. Fleas will begin feeding and defecating shortly after acquiring a host.

      Washing the items should kill any fleas on them, even without the dryer. The hot water, detergent, and vigorous agitation shouldn’t allow any to survive.

      Frontline alone can end mild to moderate infestations. It quickly kills adult fleas that jump onto the dogs. They won’t have time to lay eggs before succumbing. However, for the infestation to end, all of the immature stages living in the environment need to mature, emerge, and die. 95-99% of the infestation consists of eggs, larvae, and pupae in the environment. So, yes, washing, vacuuming, and other environmental control will greatly speed up the process.

      Despite what some websites claim, there’s no scientifically-backed evidence that baking soda has any affect on fleas. Using an insect growth regulator (IGR) is a better option. Frontline already contains an IGR, but applying some to the carpets is often a good idea. IGRs mimic natural insect hormones that regulate development. When eggs and larvae are exposed, they’re unable to reach adulthood. Plus, IGRs remain active for 7 months indoors, which is great for preventing re-infestations. Look for the active ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). There are many sprays containing an IGR. You can also find IGR concentrates without any other chemicals. For example, Martin’s IGR comes in a good size for indoor use.

      In most locations, fleas can’t survive outdoors during winter. Temperatures near freezing kill all life stages. To determine if fleas are living in your yard, ensure your dogs are flea-free. Then let them outside for a while. Upon permitting them re-entry into the home, carefully check them with a flea comb. See if they picked up any fleas outside.

      Fleas begin becoming a problem around April, and their numbers gradually increase throughout the summer and fall. Flea season peaks during September and October. The lowest amount of fleas are found December through March. Of course, fleas can survive year-round on warm-blooded animals or in warmed homes. In some regions, temperatures are warm year-round, and fleas can be troublesome throughout all months.

      • Margherita Cardone January 31, 2017, 10:47 am

        Thank you so much for your help! Have a wonderful week

  • Jo February 27, 2017, 12:45 am

    My cat had a flea problem a few months ago. We took all the usual steps, treated the cat etc. My youngest daughter, age 7, has been bitten to bits. It seemed to happen when she was in bed. Although the cat doesn’t go anywhere near her bed. I replaced all the quilts, sheets etc and for 6-8 weeks it seemed to have worked. However she woke yesterday and was covered again. I found a flea in her pyjama bottoms. I was devastated, I fell I have failed in my care. Once again, I have stripped everything and I smoke bombed her bedroom. I am so confused as the cat doesn’t go on her bed, she shares with her older sister and she hasn’t been bitten, not has anyone else in the family.
    What else can I do? Will they be a forever cycle whilst we have the cat?

    • Adam Retzer March 2, 2017, 6:08 pm

      Finding fleas in areas that aren’t frequented by the primary host is unusual. It’s also strange that no one else in the family is being bitten. Does the cat still show signs of fleas? Are you positive it was a flea you found in her pajama bottoms and not a bed bug (or other pest)?

      Cat fleas (C. felis) are by far the most common species found on dogs and cats, and in homes. However, you may be dealing with human fleas (P. irritans), which is a more rare species. Unfortunately, I am not as well versed in this species. Regardless, the treatment regimen you’ve employed (pet treatments, vacuuming, environmental treatments, laundering) should eliminate fleas of any species.

      Flea can’t usually get onto beds unless the primary host brings them there. Fleas can’t jump high enough to reach the mattress. The highest they can jump is around the height of a human ankle. They may crawl onto a bed if a sheet is hanging low to the ground. So, ensuring that the bedding is tucked in can help prevent access.

      Along with the environmental treatment (bug bomb), laundering the bedding and vacuuming the carpets are best courses of actions to help eliminate the fleas. However, if the pests aren’t fleas, then these actions may not be enough.

      I’m not sure what other advice I can give, as you’ve seem to have taken all the proper steps. You may want to consider hiring a professional exterminator to take a look. I’d recommend ensuring you have a specimen of the pest for the exterminator to see. If they can’t make an identification, treatment becomes much more difficult.

  • Helen April 26, 2017, 9:50 am

    I have had my house treated for fleas
    The guy said wooden floor didn’t need treated as fleas only live on fabric
    He said not to vacuum for 2 weeks to let spray work
    He is going to respray in 3 weeks as he said pupae will have hatched
    I thought the vacuum was your best friend with fleas
    Is this right

    • Adam Retzer April 26, 2017, 4:14 pm

      Most fleas do indeed develop in fabric, namely deep within carpets. However, he was incorrect in saying that they don’t live on wooden floors. They can, it’s just more rare. The eggs and larvae can develop in cracks and crevices in the flooring, or places where debris collects.

      Many exterminators will say not to vacuum for days to weeks, to ensure the effect of the insecticide spray isn’t diminished. However, there have been multiple studies showing that dry vacuuming doesn’t reduce insecticide activity against fleas. You can read more about this (with sources) at the bottom of our page on Flea Vacuums, in the Vacuuming & Insecticides section. This page also contains a comprehensive report of why vacuuming is so important for flea control. Still, it may be a good idea to follow the exterminator’s advice, especially if he is guaranteeing control at a certain price.

  • Debra Wilson June 11, 2017, 4:15 am

    I recently moved into a new residence. It’s s been 3 months. O don’t have any pets, bit my house is flea infested. I have hard wood floors. Is it possible they are living in between the floor boards. I’ve bombed. I’ve sprayed. Even my furniture I vacuum floor and furniture every day
    Sometimes 2 and 3 times a day including the furniture especially around the stitching on my couch and pillows. It’s been 3 weeks of doing this routine daily, but as soon as I put my feet on the floor they are all over my feet. What else can I do?. The bombs and spraynexpense is adding up. Please help me with any information you can.

    • Adam Retzer June 13, 2017, 4:31 pm

      Yes, it’s likely the fleas are in the hardwood floor’s cracks and crevices, or near baseboards, or corners where debris collects. The previous tenant probably had a flea-infested pet. The eggs fell onto the floor and developed in the cracks. Now there are fully mature fleas waiting inside their cocoons to emerge. When you walk on them, heat and pressure trigger emergence. Until they emerge, they will be difficult to kill.

      Vacuuming frequently is one of the best ways to force the pre-emerged fleas to emerge. Your daily vacuuming has likely gone a long way in dealing with the problem already.

      Another thing you can do is wear long socks and slowly walk around the home. You’ve mentioned they jump on your socks when you walk around. So, you can exploit this and force them to emerge and jump onto you. This can help speed up their removal.

      The good news is they shouldn’t be able to survive without a pet in the home, if they are cat fleas (C. felis) or dog fleas (C. canis), the two predominant species. So, in all likelihood, the fleas you are currently seeing are the last generation and they won’t be able to lay eggs without an animal host. The exception could be in they are human fleas ((P. irritans), but this species is much more rare.

      To identify the species, take a close look at their head. Cat and dog fleas will have dark bristles called combs on their heads (see fig A and B here). Cat fleas are the most common species, and are identifiable by their elongated head. Human fleas don’t have the combs and their heads are shorter (Fig H).

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