Vacuuming will remove 15-50% of flea larvae from carpets. The denser the carpet, the less effective the vacuum will be at removing fleas. All of the larvae being sucked up will die in the process.
Vacuuming & Flea Larvae
Do vacuums remove flea larvae from carpets?
Two studies have shown that a beater-bar style vacuum cleaner will remove around 50% of flea larvae (baby fleas) from carpeting. However, in another study, vacuuming only removed 15-27% of the larvae. Vacuuming becomes less effective at removing flea larvae with higher densities of carpet pile.
Vacuuming has limited success against flea larvae because of their coiling behavior. Upon detecting disturbances or vibrations in their substrate, cat flea larvae flip around and coil their bodies longitudinally Vid 1. This behavior, aided by a bristle-covered body, allow larvae to cling onto the carpet fibers.
Vid 1 Video showing flea larvae coiling up when disturbed. This behavior causes the larvae to attach to carpet fibers and prevents vacuum removal.
Do vacuums kill flea larvae?
The process of being vacuumed up kills 100% of the removed larvae. Brushes, fans, and powerful air currents created by the vacuum cleaner cause irreparable and fatal physical damage. Glen Needham, a researcher in the study, stated, “We didn’t do a post-mortem, so we don’t know for sure, but it appears that the physical abuse they took caused them to perish. No matter what vacuum a flea gets sucked into, it’s probably a one-way trip.”
Other Benefits of Vacuuming
Removes Larval Food
Increases Insecticide Penetration
Vacuuming will also straighten out carpet fibers. This increases the effectiveness of insecticide sprays by allowing them to penetrate deeper into the carpet matrix.