Transferring (and treating) fleas to my car and work

Login or register to comment, vote, answer, or ask a question.

QuestionsCategory: Flea InfestationsTransferring (and treating) fleas to my car and work
Megan asked 4 months ago

Hi Adam, Firstly, thank you for your site. I\’m in the midst of my dog\’s third flea infestation (in 6 years) and was relieved to find a resource that is so well researched. A few questions for you. Being that this is my third time at this rodeo, I followed what has now become a procedure for taking care of the fleas on my dog and in my home: she\’s already on her Frontline, I shampooed my carpets and laundered my linens and clothes, called the exterminator, and gave my dog a CapStar pill on the day of the appointment on the advice of my vet. For the most part, I think my flea problem has been contained at home and on my dog. My concern, however, is that I transferred the fleas to my car (I didn\’t have a car when the other two infestations occurred) and possibly my place of work before I was able to get my home treated by an exterminator. In regards to my car, I noticed them on my person while in the car on the first day I began \”treatment,\” as I was taking my linens/clothes (in closed trash bags) to the laundromat. I bought Raid and sprayed the fabric surfaces, left the gas in there over night, and then aired it out over the next day. I avoided using the car because I wanted to see how effective the exterminator\’s work had been. So when I got back in it today (over a week later) I\’m pretty sure I saw fleas jumping, but I also don\’t trust my mind with regards to fleas these days. Long story short, how do I get rid of these fleas? I realize I need to do some intense vacuuming, but is Raid spray sufficient for a chemical treatment? I live in Philadelphia, and it has been temperate this past week at times, but I\’m not sure if the temperature in my car reached or exceeded 100 degrees (I read your response to the flea treatment question for the car in Texas). Additionally, I\’m concerned that I may have carried the fleas from my home (before it was treated by the exterminator) to my office. I stayed home to clean and treat my house for two days after discovering the flea dirt on my dog, but wasn\’t allowed to work from home any longer than that (inevitably, I had to go in for two days prior to the exterminator\’s treatment). I took precautions before leaving for work, including taking a shower immediately before I left the house, wearing stockings, and also my rubber rainboots. I did this for the next week. I also asked one of my friends in facilities to spray my desk area with Raid, which she did (we kept my office closed after spraying over night). After the exterminator came, I noticed within a few days that the flea bites on my own person stopped. However, two days ago I used the blanket I keep at my desk, thinking, oh the worst is over/there shouldn\’t be any fleas or larvae on here. There might have been, or I might have gotten them waiting for the bus/walking home, but my eggs were itchy hours later when walking home and I noticed flea bites on my legs, even though I was wearing stockings (I noticed the same kinds of bites the first few days before the exterminator came, but this could have been a result from sleeping in my untreated house with my dog). I\’ve read online that fleas can\’t bite through clothing, but I don\’t know how else to explain these bites, as they weren\’t there when I left for work. So a few questions: can fleas bite through thin layers of clothing like stockings/tights, and how long can they be carried on your clothing (if they\’re not stuck in your clothing or its seams)? I\’m trying to figure out how I would have transferred them to work in the first place, given that I was completely covered (save for my hands, face, and hair, which I had just washed). Regardless, I was very concerned about bringing them potentially to work, and was reluctant to come in. But no one else has complained about flea bites and it\’s been 3 weeks now. And since the other day, we\’ve sprayed my desk with Raid again and I haven\’t had any issues. This whole flea thing is a mystery to me! But I really appreciate your help, Adam; all of your answers and articles have been invaluable. Megan

1 Answers
Adam Retzer Staff answered 4 months ago


In all likelihood you are dealing with cat fleas (C. felis). This species accounts for nearly all dog and cat infestations. The dog flea (C. canis) is the second most common species. Neither of these species can survive or reproduce on human blood. So, even if fleas got into your car or office, an infestation couldn’t continue there unless there was a suitable animal host.

The only species found on pets that could survive and lay eggs on human blood is P. irritans (human fleas). This is a much more rare species.

To identify the species, take a close look at their heads. Examine this reference image. Cat fleas (img D) and dog fleas (img E) have dark rows of bristles (combs) on their heads. Human fleas (img H) lack combs, and have a more compressed head.

The Raid should kill any adult fleas in the car or office. However, in the future, you may want to use an alternate spray. The most important ingredient in environmental treatments is the insect growth regulator (IGR). It will prevent eggs and larvae from developing for 7 months. In Raid, the IGR is methoprene, which is great. But the formulation is much lower than in other sprays, such as Precor 2000 (0.015% vs. 0.085%).

But, as mentioned, there shouldn’t be eggs or larvae in your car or office. The Raid should do a sufficient job in killing any adult fleas that may have somehow gotten into these locations.

I am not sure how to explain the bites and the blanket, especially if you didn’t see fleas. You may want to consider deploying a flea trap in your office. Traps are useful for identifying fleas and assessing populations.

Fleas can’t bite through most clothing. However, they can bite through thin fabrics that fit snugly, such as the tights and stockings you mentioned.

When fleas bite people, they prefer to leave immediately after feeding. The only time they would stay on a person is if they couldn’t find a way off. In the source I’ve read, the longest this would be is around 24 hours. Infestations rarely spread from fleas hitching on people, but it is possible.

Warm regards!