Cat flea larvae rarely travel further than 15-20 centimeters after hatching. In a suitable environment, they’ve been seen to migrate 46 cm at a maximum. However, if food is absent, they may travel up to 90 cm to prevent starving.
Larvae Live Where Eggs Fall
Cat flea larvae are quite mobile, but they rarely venture far from the point of eclosion. Where larvae live is determined by where eggs get dispersed, and this is governed by the habits of the infested host. One study found 47-50% of flea larvae were located where a cat spent 90% of its time.
Distance Traveled in Carpets
When studying movement in carpets, 78% of larvae remained within 15 cm from where they hatched. At a maximum, one larva was seen to travel 46 cm. A similar study placed larvae in carpet. Less than 15% moved more than 20 cm before they pupated.
In one study, larval movement was estimated by observing shed casings in the environment. While none of the larvae moved very far, it was determined that second-instars travel further than first-instars.
If larvae hatch in areas without food, they’ll travel further to prevent starvation. The larvae moved less than 16 cm when food was present. But when food was absent, 50% of the larvae traveled up to 90 cm to find it.
Flea larvae are negatively phototactic. This means they’ll actively move away from light. As a result, 83% of fleas in homes develop at the base of carpets. Even when confined to sand, the larvae will burrow down to an average depth of 2.36 mm to avoid light, and a maximum depth of 7.5 mm.