First off, thank you so much for this site, and the great detailed information. I’ve been looking all over and doing so much reading on fleas, I know more than I ever wanted to about them! It’s been a bit confusing as I get have found contradicting information on the web.
Our cat became infested with fleas, and unfortunately I didn’t realize she had them until she had been showing symptoms for quite a long time so our house has a pretty bad infestation. We treated the cat and have been doing the spraying, washing vacuuming routine to start trying to clear out the fleas. We have 3 young boys (2 1 year old twins) and have re-homed our cat to someone willing to treat her and give her more attention than we were able to. It has been about a month since our cat has left the house and we have continued vacuuming, washing, cleaning procedures, however we are still seeing live fleas consistently, and I and my boys have flea bites all over! I am feeling so discouraged.
Is it true that since we have removed the cat host, and the bedding that they can’t continue to reproduce, even if they are getting human blood from all of the bites we are witnessing? It is currently a cold winter in Wisconsin, so no worries about bringing them in from outside right now. We have moved our floor rugs and couch pillows to our garage in hope that the winter weather will aide us in killing off some immature fleas as well.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel here? Thank you so much for your help.
Hello and thanks for your questions!
Yes, there’s a lot of contradicting information online. That’s why I try to cite all the sources I can with actual studies. I’m glad you find it helpful.
If fleas on your cat went unnoticed for a long period of time, that means the fleas were actively reproducing and able to lay a considerable amount of eggs. The fleas are you seeing now started as eggs, which were laid on the cat and then fell into the carpets. Within carpeting, the eggs hatch and larvae mature, eventually pupating and emerging as new adults.
Right now, it sounds like you’re dealing with the environmental stages as they mature and emerge. After treatment begins, it’s common to continue seeing fleas for another 8 weeks, and sometimes longer. Initially, the problem may even seem to get worse, because there are more immature stages than adults, and those hidden pre-adults will eventually mature. As this happens, it can be extremely frustrating, because it seems like control methods are making things worse (but it’s actually getting better!).
You’re situation sounds in the range of normal. Keep up the cleaning routine, especially the vacuuming. The vacuuming forces the cocooned pre-emerged adults to emerge. Without physical pressure and heat (which are cues of a host, but are also caused by vacuuming), the pre-emerged adults can remain in a dormant-like state for up to 5 months.
It makes sense that you and your family are getting bitten. Without a primary host (your cat), the fleas are starving to death and are acting more aggressive. Wearing pants, and tucking the legs into your socks, can help prevent bites. Also, spraying pants and socks with permethrin insect repellent can help stop bites.
It’s true that fleas, in natural settings, can’t reproduce on human blood. So, the good news is the fleas you are seeing now are the last generation. You can read our full article about it here: Can fleas live and reproduce on human blood?
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Things should be getting better soon. To re-emphasize, it’s normal to continue to see fleas for 8 weeks after treatment.
Hope this helps!