Vacuuming kills up to 63% of flea cocoons. Effectiveness depends upon the carpet type and density. Vacuuming can also force larvae to pupate without cocoons. And it triggers pre-emerged adults to emerge from their cocoons.
Vacuuming & Flea Cocoons
Do Vacuums Remove Cocoons from Carpets?
Vacuums will remove some, but not all, flea cocoons from carpeting. Only those located towards the top of the carpet pile will get sucked up. When larvae spin cocoons, the silk strands can become tightly bound into the carpet fibers, which limits the efficacy of vacuuming.
How effective vacuuming is at removing cocoons depends upon the carpet type. Many cocoons reside at the top of nylon saxony and contract carpets, and vacuuming can eliminate up to 63% of them. However, in nylon and wool loop carpets, most cocoons are found at the base of carpeting. Thus, vacuuming isn’t very effective. More densely woven carpets further hinder the effectiveness of vacuuming.
Do Vacuums Kill Flea Cocoons?
All cocooned fleas die when vacuumed up. The vacuum cleaner’s fans, brushes, and strong air currents will slam the fleas around, killing them as they pass through into the collection chamber. Pupae aren’t even recognizable afterwards. There’s no need to further sanitize the vacuum cartridge or bag.
Preventing Cocoon Formation
Fleas sometimes pupate without cocoons. They’re called naked pupae. Naked pupae commonly occur when the substrate is agitated during cocoon formation. Shaken larvae even abandon fully-formed cocoons, as there’s an 18 hour window before pupation begins. The action of a beater-bar style vacuum may shake carpets enough to force naked pupae to develop.
Naked pupae still reach adulthood, but they can’t enter into a quiescent (dormant-like) state without a cocoon. And, without the sticky silk, naked pupae are easier to remove from carpets than cocooned pupae.
Forcing Cocoon Emergence
Mature adult fleas can stay inside their cocoons for up to 5 months, waiting for signs of a host before emerging. This ability makes fleas difficult to eradicate. Further, pre-emerged adults are somewhat resistant and protected from insecticides.
Cocooned fleas quickly emerge once they detect physical pressure and heat. These two cues indicate that a host is nearby. Vacuuming can simulate these host cues. Once they emerge, the vacuum will remove 95% of adults, and subsequently kill them.