Can fleas survive and reproduce on human blood?

cat flea feeding on a person

Denni Schnapp

Img 1 Adult cat flea taking a blood meal from a human leg.


Cat fleas can survive and reproduce on a diet of human blood alone. However, in normal settings they don’t live or breed on humans. Females must feed freely for many hours to be able reproduce on humans. This doesn’t happen outside of laboratories.


Preferred hosts differ among different species of fleas. Feeding on a non-preferred host can keep fleas alive, but their fertility is greatly reduced. Man isn’t a preferred host of C. felis (cat fleas).


Cat fleas can survive solely on a diet of human blood. They’re capable of living for 139 to 185 days if fed on human arms for 15 minutes each day. 10 minute feeding intervals can keep females alive for up to 30 days, and males for 17 days. In a recent study, fleas had continuous access to human blood for 12 days in an artificial setting. A significant number of fleas survived, especially when dog hair was added to their cages.


Fleas can produce eggs on human blood if they’re allowed to feed freely. They can’t reproduce when the feeding duration is limited to 10 or 15 minutes. Dog fleas, a related species, only produce viable eggs after 12 hours of freely feeding on man. Cat fleas can lay viable eggs after 3 days of free access to human blood through an artificial membrane.

Though it’s possible to produce eggs on human blood, the numbers are minimal. Cat fleas lay an average of 3 to 4 eggs a day while consuming human blood. This is a drastic decrease in fertility, as females typically lay 20 to 30 eggs a day.

Fleas & Humans in Natural Settings

In natural settings, cat fleas occasionally bite humans. However, they don’t breed on them. The fleas take a blood meal and then leave. On humans, females feed for an average of 7.4 minutes, and males for 4.4 minutes. They often bite 2 to 3 times before leaving. For fleas to survive and reproduce, they must have continual access to blood, and they can’t waste their energy by jumping. Feeding for only a few minutes or hours a day isn’t sufficient.

Flea bites on humans are incidental, usually only occurring when a flea-infested pet lives in the person’s habitat. A flea emerging from its cocoon may bite a person before finding and colonizing its preferred host. But once it’s on a cat or dog, the flea remains there.

Fleas are well-adapted for living on furry hosts, not hairless humans. They have a difficult time to attaching to people and remaining undetected. Oftentimes fleas are seen and killed before they can feed.


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  • H J Hudleston March 17, 2016, 1:21 pm

    if fleas infest a bed (in a room which a cat no longer has access to) and are exposed only to humans, will they feed enough overnight through the course of a month to lay eggs and mintain a colony in the bedroom or will they die out if we keep the cat out of the room?

    • Adam Retzer March 17, 2016, 6:13 pm

      You shouldn’t have a problem. Especially if you wash the bedding, which will kill any eggs and larvae possibly living there. Fleas can’t jump high enough to get into beds unless an infested pet sleeps there. And, as this article covers, fleas don’t live on or breed on human blood. Be sure to vacuum the room frequently, as pre-emerged adults can stay quiescent (dormant) within their cocoons for up to 5 months. They reside in carpeting and vacuuming helps them emerge.

      • Alicia May 14, 2017, 1:33 pm

        Fleas may not jump high enough to reach the bed from the floor but they can get higher & easily, fleas dont stay on a host, one way they can get to higher levels by traveling on humans.

  • Sean Corey June 27, 2016, 6:15 am

    Do fleas like certain things in a human to bite certain people than other people say sugar or fruits or anything they ate before they were bitten?

    • Adam Retzer June 27, 2016, 7:01 pm

      I’ve never come across anything to suggest this is true. The primary attraction cues are visual (changes in light) and thermal (body heat). Sugars and other dietary components have little value to fleas. They mainly require the protein and iron from blood for nourishment and reproduction.

  • Jonathan July 6, 2016, 6:49 pm

    I’m reasonably sure I’ve picked up fleas from trekking in tall grass. I’m certain that I have flea bites, but sometimes can swear I feel them biting me when I’m out of the house. Is it possible for fleas to hide in clothing if I am wearing it? I’ve read that fleas usually bite and leave.

    I do not have any pets in the house. Thanks!

    • Adam Retzer July 6, 2016, 9:17 pm

      It’s possible for fleas to hitchhike on clothing. And, if fleas can’t find a way off the person, they may temporarily hide in clothing while occasionally biting. However, these situations aren’t common.

      Also, fleas don’t typically live in grass, even tall grass, unless the primary host frequently rests there.

      It sounds like you may be dealing with something other than fleas, though I can’t be certain. Regardless, without pets, there is no risk of infestation (of fleas).

      • Jonathan July 7, 2016, 1:15 am

        Thanks for the advice. I put down a flea trap and there are about six there. I took in a stray cat several months ago for a few weeks. This is the last time I do that. 🙂

        Thanks again!

        • Adam Retzer July 7, 2016, 2:10 am

          Ah, the stray cat make sense. You probably have immature fleas developing in your carpet right now. They will eventually mature into adults and won’t be able to reproduce on your blood. But you may occasionally get bitten for a while until they go extinct (around 8 weeks from when the cat left).

          And cocooned adults can stay quiescent for up to 5 months, waiting to detect a host before emerging.

          It would be a good idea to vacuum regularly, at least every other day. Specifically, in areas where the stray cat rested. The vacuum will remove some of the fleas, and trigger the cocooned adults to emerge.

          • Tammy July 26, 2017, 6:46 pm

            If i went somewhere where a dog had fleas would it be possible for them to come on me and transfer to my cats when i get home a couple hours later

          • Adam Retzer July 30, 2017, 7:44 pm

            Yes, it’s possible. However, it’s much more common for fleas to spread when eggs fall from hosts (e.g. feral cats or raccoons).

      • Peter Cormack August 13, 2016, 1:44 pm

        Ticks are becoming a problem in the US, promoting Lyme’s disease. Long grass, especially where wild animals roam freely is often home to ticks, which if found must be removed in a specific way.

      • Andrew October 27, 2017, 6:43 pm

        So my wife and I have moved into an apartment, and I think the previous owners had a pet. And for the first week there was no sign of them. Now they are in the carpet in the living room. I guess there were eggs in the carpet. They came out and sprayed and I’m putting down borax. And we don’t have any pets. Should they eventually go away? And how long and how many treatments will it take?

        • Adam Retzer October 31, 2017, 12:11 pm

          They should eventually go away, since they can’t reproduce without pets. There shouldn’t be any new generation of eggs being laid. Usually infestations end in around 8 weeks after treatment begins. Your problem will probably end sooner, since all the immature fleas developing in the environment should have reached maturity by now. Eggs reach adulthood in 17-26 days. You are likely seeing the the last adults emerge.

          The problem stage is the cocooned adult. They can enter into a quiescent state until they detect a host (heat and pressure) for up to 5 months. Vacuuming is the best way to simulate these host cues and force emergence. So regularly vacuuming will help speed up the eradication process.

          Chemical environmental treatments probably won’t end the problem. It will kill some of the fleas, but many immature stages are often protected from treatments because they live at the base of carpets (or other refuges) where sprays and treatments can’t reach. As a result, some patience will required until they all mature and emerge.

      • C May 31, 2018, 2:35 pm

        The information that your giving out is entirely wrong.. It may be more unlikely but you can still bring fleas into your home even if you don’t have pets..certainly if you’ve had animal visitors, but they could also come from abandoned bird nests near your home, if your neighbours have animals you could bring fleas home that way.. And fleas absolutley can reside on you. Myself & family have been battling flea infestation of our petless home now for 6 months, and the only reason it’s taking so long is because it is so hard and time consuming to get them off all of us, and they absolutley are reproducing on me at least, and laying eggs on me, I’ve also had eggs on furniture and clothes I’m wearing. I have bites everywhere as do my children, and the hardest place to eradicate them from is our hair. And no I don’t live in poverty, I operate a normal, clean household and yet this still managed to happen…

        • Adam Retzer June 6, 2018, 11:36 am

          I’ve never claimed that fleas can’t come into your home if you don’t have pets. Animal visitors can definitely drop flea eggs into homes. However, in most cases, fleas can’t survive and reproduce on human blood. So the infestation won’t continue without pets.

          This website is focused on fleas of dogs and cats, C. felis and C. canis. Birds have there own species of fleas that won’t infest dogs and cats (or people). In rare circumstances, they may be found on pets, but it is incidental to the nearby primary host. They won’t thrive on pets. The same goes for rodent fleas.

          There are a couple of flea species that can survive and reproduce on human blood. Of these, only one is found in domestic settings. This is the human flea (P. irritans). This site doesn’t go over that species too much because it is fairly rare. However, when questions and comments indicate it may be this species, I try to point it out. And I am working on adding more information on P. irritans to the site.

          Here’s some more information on human fleas

          Here’s how to identify human fleas

          Even P. irritans won’t live on people. They will take a blood meal and then leave. So it’s strange that the fleas are being found on your head. Fleas can only jump to the height of a human ankle, and they feed upon finding exposed skin. As a result, most bites occur on the lower legs. They typically won’t climb far up a person’s body, unless they are living in the environment where the person sleeps or lays down (e.g. a bed) to give them easy access. I don’t know how to explain the fleas on your heads without assessing the situation in person. It may be a good idea to hire a pest control professional.

          Flea infestations can occur in clean or messy homes. Unfortunately, they can be seen as a hygiene problem. This social stigma is based on a myth, but it can cause more stress.

          What control measures have you employed? Vacuuming regularly is an important part of any flea control program. And using an insect growth regulator (IGR) in the environment will prevent eggs and larvae from reaching adulthood for 7 months, which is good for control and prevention. Look for the ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). Concentrates may be preferred, like Martin’s IGR, since they don’t contain any other chemicals.

          I am sorry to hear about your flea troubles. And I apologize if you find the information I provide on this site insufficient or false. I do my best to be comprehensive and cite all of my references. However, every situation is different and there are complexities in each case that can’t be addressed in an overview article.

          I hope your infestation resolves soon.

        • Dominica July 16, 2018, 7:18 am

          I agree 100 percent that fleas can reproduce on human blood. They reside on air and clothing. I wash my air everyday sometimes twice because i feel them on my hair. I tried all sorts of home remedies but it does not work

          Is it possible to catch fleas with human blood that has been treated with Advantage flea killer

          • Maltisha October 15, 2018, 7:24 pm

            They can’t unless they have unlimited access to blood. So you’d have to be around them 24/7.

        • Michelle August 4, 2018, 3:26 pm

          Agree. We are having the same problem. Hair is the worst!! They seem to go for the females in the house over the males.

    • Patrick July 28, 2016, 4:02 am

      I spend a lot of time trekking through tall grass and weeds as well. Sounds more like chiggers than fleas.

    • David February 10, 2017, 7:40 am

      Could be ticks. When I was in the Army in the late 1980s we tucked our pants inside our boots and put Flea and Tick collars on top the boots. We still got some chiggers at the waist, but it really helped.

    • Eve November 5, 2017, 4:32 pm

      Could be bedbugs my friend. Check crevices of clothing, boxsprings, and mattresses. They’re on the rise everywhere these days. You can get them anywhere.

  • Robin July 19, 2016, 6:11 am

    I’ve gotten over 50 flea bites on my arms and legs since my cat picked them up about a month and a half ago, but my spouse hasn’t been bit once. Why is that?

    • Adam Retzer July 19, 2016, 9:53 pm

      Hey Robin. It’s hard to know why you’re getting bit more than your spouse without the full details of your situation.

      In many circumstances, the person getting bit more spends more time in the house, and is thus exposed to fleas more often.

      Alternatively, the person getting more flea bites may be spending more time in areas of the house where fleas are developing. Flea hot-spots are concentrated in carpeted areas where pets frequently rests. So, for example, perhaps your cat rests nearest to where you sit in a living room.

      • Bernard October 14, 2016, 6:01 am

        It could also be that your husband is getting bit just not reacting to the bites

      • Leslie m November 10, 2016, 12:10 pm

        You have to be alergic to fleas to get a mark. Most people are not so the don’t see signs of being bit

        • Adam Retzer November 10, 2016, 3:19 pm

          Most people do have reactions to flea bites. However, it’s true that allergic individuals have more extreme reactions. Regardless, around 24 hours after the bite, almost all people will experience an itchy, red papule. The reaction is similar to mosquito bites. More info about the flea bite reaction can be found here: Do flea bites show up right away

  • Sandra July 24, 2016, 1:44 am

    My cat has fleas for months now. My house is infested with them we have now twice got the cat treated baught all sorts for the house . These flea boms that go of in the house and u have to leave for a few hour 10 of them. Spray,loads of powder for my carpet,they seem to be more in my carpet than any were else actually. iv spent a fortune on callors and everything; else iv mentioned oh and not to mention vet bills to get the spot on twice and to buy another 3 of son in been bitten with them every morning he wakes u . Can’t cop anymore with i . What can I do I so need help I don’t no what to do. Sandra xn

    • Adam Retzer July 24, 2016, 10:20 pm

      Hi Sandra, since your question isn’t directly related to this page’s topic, I’ve moved the question to our Ask a Question area. You can find your question here.

      To anyone else with questions unrelated to flea survival on human blood, please visit our Ask a Question page. Thank you!

      • Joe Baldwin July 5, 2018, 12:58 am

        I have been infested with human fleas for two weeks or more now. It took a week just to identify what was on me. I was walking through a back yard of an abandoned house just being renovated. when out of nowhere a swarm of little bugs landed on my head and hour later I watched as they fell from my hair down to my shirt they were in all different stages of development. By the next two days I sprayed myself with deet which revealed that almost every part of my skin had pupating fleas in it. I have since been free from them once but was reinfested. In two days I was totally covered with them. The larvae crawl into your skin and change into an adult which makes a sore if the part of skin isn’t deep. But if they find a deep pore they can go unnoticed. the pupating larvae leave no evidence that they are there until you spray on some poison and rub your skin causing them to pop out. Gently squeeze after rubbing in the poison and they literally fly out of your skin from every part of your body. The adults will occupy a sore and the surrounding pores. They will dig around the edges of the infected crator and cram in there for more space. An adult in a pore is next to impossible to remove by any mechanical means because once you start messing with one it will flood the area with blood and chew on you until you stop or you remove it . Removal by force only causes much more damage. These things can and will live & reproduce, thrive on a human, I know because I am walking proof. My arms and legs are ate up with these huge crators, and don’t get me started on how bad they got in my belly button. I let flea shampoo sit in it, after gently stiring the poison into the skin hundreds of them kept coming out of every pore within two inches of the opening. I used a soft tipped instrument and scraped hundreds of eggs out of my belly button. I am not the type of person that handles this very well mentally and the people around me are starting not to believe that I’m infested , but I promise you that I am and I need serious help . I have actually thought that suicide would be a great alternative to being infested with fleas. I feel for are pets now that I share in there pain. And boy they hurt & itch plus all the damage done to the skin. Just because they prefer long haired animals doesn’t mean they can’t infested you if under the right circumstances. My guess is that whatever animal they were on died so they went into survival mode until they just happened to find me. The fleas will to survive is very strong making it very hard to remove from your body. I feel that I need to take something internally to kill them from the inside out because poisoning the outer layer of skin kills the eggs and pupating fleas it has a hard time finding it’s way through the sores they occupy leaving them free to continue to breed. I need help , definitely more support that I am getting. If you want to call denial support. It has disturbed and scared me both mentally more so and than physically.

        • Adam Retzer July 6, 2018, 12:25 pm

          Joe, it sounds like you have a serious medical condition. I am not sure what pest is burying into your skin, but fleas don’t do this. You are dealing with something else. I’d highly recommend seeing a physician.

          • Cheryl July 12, 2018, 9:21 pm

            Sounds like you could have scabes. Not sure how it’s spelled (scabies).

        • Kaeli July 12, 2018, 5:42 am

          We had a similar situation 2 years ago. Everyone thought we were insane. We managed to get doctors to write script for oral ivermectin. We had to do a couple rounds and topical treatment. Treat house with permethrin constantly. Vacuum and high heat all soft fabric. It took about 4 months. I lost chunks of hair. Had hallucinations from lack of sleep. It was rough. We sent samples off to Purdue lab and entomologist couldn’t identify. When we got in sauna had black pepper looking stuff come out of pores. It was absolutely terrible! I am so sorry.

          • Mikhail September 4, 2018, 9:36 pm

            Sounds like you have delusional parasitosis, I think I’d see a psychologist if I were you.

        • Kaeli July 12, 2018, 5:47 am

          I don’t know when this was written, could have been years ago. But I have more in-depth steps we took to finally get over it. We had it in our household and my mothers. Affecting 8 of us total over roughly 4 month period.

        • Jason October 20, 2018, 5:15 am

          Have you tried laying off the meth?

        • Maria Redmond December 3, 2018, 6:44 am

          In this day of science is real and Christ spirit and spirits are fables you may think I am crazy but you could be in a spiritual battle for your life! Find some true followers of Christ and ask them to pray with you and walk beside you in this real battle for your life! That doesn’t mean there aren’t real bugs to battle but there are other very real battles going on here too!

    • April August 12, 2017, 12:42 am

      Borax detergent is a godsend for the carpets. Sprinkle and leave over night then vacuum in the morning. Vacuum as many times a day as possible. Like your life depends on it. Good luck.

  • Lazaro July 28, 2016, 6:58 am

    So I got a stray kitten and tried to clean but it had a lot of fleas all around it’s face and body. Well I killed almost all the fleas except one that I couldn’t catch. Now I’m worried that it might reproduce. Could it?

    • Adam Retzer July 28, 2016, 8:17 pm

      If you brought the infested kitten into your home, then there’s a good chance you’re going to be dealing with an infestation soon. Even if you’ve cleaned off all of the adult fleas, you may have missed some eggs.

      On average, females lay 25 to 30 eggs a day. The eggs are laid on animals, but they fall off within a couple of hours, incubating for around 2 days in the environment (most often carpeting). The larvae hatch and live for around a week before pupating. And from pupa to adult is another week.

      Larvae require feces (flea dirt) from adult fleas to survive. Eggs and flea dirt often fall together from infested pets in locations where the animal rests. So you may avoid an infestation if the flea dirt hasn’t fallen inside your home. That said, I think you’re at high risk of the infestation continuing.

      Keep a close eye on the kitten for fleas. The longer an infestation goes unnoticed, the more difficult it is to end.

      • Carrie November 7, 2016, 10:24 pm

        I had some “flea dirt” from my cat on my counter that I had cleaned up with a lysol wipe. Would that have killed anything that may have been with it, such as eggs? He is now outside, which he typically does, until I can get his treatment and household cleaner. Is there anything else that I need to know and/or do? I’m extremely grossed out and a little germaphobic.

        • Adam Retzer November 9, 2016, 6:12 pm

          Yes, the lysol wipe should remove and kill anything that was on the counter. Regardless, immature fleas wouldn’t be able to survive in an area like this.

          The best cleaning regimen to adopt is vacuuming regularly, specifically in areas where the cat spends a lot of time. You may also want to launder pet bedding and rugs. View our page on How to get rid of fleas for a comprehensive guide.

  • Marie August 10, 2016, 8:35 pm

    my dog got fleas from a cat so I took him and my 4 rabbits to the vets and had them all treated, I had the house sprayed by the council, and again two weeks later, which was yesterday, I have done all the suggested actions, boil washing bedding, binning the hoover bag in the outside bin, however they are still here, what can I do? are they living off me? can they live on a wooden rabbit hutch?

    • Adam Retzer August 11, 2016, 10:48 pm

      The fleas aren’t living off of you. You’re most likely seeing newly emerged adults. It takes around 8 weeks before the fleas are completely eradicated. This is because the eggs, larvae, and pupae live in the environment (carpeting). Upon reaching adulthood, they emerge from the carpets to try to find a host. Vacuuming and spraying insecticides can help eliminate the pre-adult stages, but it won’t get rid of all of them.

      If the rabbits had fleas, it’s possible for the eggs to have fallen into the hutch. They may be developing within the bedding. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to clean it out at least once. Rabbits aren’t the primary host of cat fleas, but they do sometimes infest them. Still, it’s likely your dog is the larger issue.

      Continue vacuuming regularly, once every other day, and focus on areas where your dog likes to spend time (resting, sleeping, eating). I’m not sure what your pets were treated with, but you’ll likely want to re-retreat them monthly (for 3 or 4 months). Cocooned adults can stay quiescent for up to 5 months while they wait for a host. If a female flea is able to get a blood meal from an untreated animal, she’ll begin laying eggs within 48 hours.

  • Nate August 28, 2016, 12:19 am

    My wife and I do not have pets, but she started getting bites on her feet and ankles last week. Previous tenants (over a year and a half ago) had a dog. We had a similar but smaller issue this time last year. This time around, we eventually saw a live flea, and later put out some traps that caught maybe 7-10 more fleas. It sounds like we’re seeing newly emerged adults.

    We’re washing linens and vacuuming carpets and floors aggressively and used a couple boxes of Borax on floors and especially rugs. My wife still finds a new bite or two each day (it’s been maybe 6 days since the first). Our bed is currently a mattress on the floor, so they could be getting in there. So far, no bites on my 9-month old daughter or me.

    Given that we don’t have pets, would you say this will likely blow over if we continue the steps we are taking? Is it worth treating the yard with something like diatomaceous earth? Any idea how they may have gotten in?

    • Adam Retzer August 29, 2016, 11:49 pm

      Hello Nate,

      It’s strange that you have fleas in your home without pets. 18 months is too long for the previous tenant’s dog to be the source (6 months is max). Is it possible that urban wildlife are living in your home somewhere (attic, basement, crawl space, etc)? Feral cats, raccoons, and opossums are common carriers of cat fleas.

      It makes since that this is the time of year you have this problem. This is peak flea season.

      Fleas are usually acquired by pets outside. New adults emerge from cocoons and jump onto a nearby host. It’s possible for them to hitchhike on people’s clothes, but this is rare.

      Are you positive you’re dealing with fleas? This may be a bed bug problem (or another pest). You say you caught some of the insects. Were you able to make a positive identification. A distinguishing characteristic of fleas is their laterally flattened body.

      This website deals exclusively with cat fleas, the most prominent species. However, you may be dealing with human fleas (Pulex irritans). This species is rare, but not impossible to be dealing with. But still, this species typically infests pets and is brought into homes by pets.

      The actions you’re currently taking, especially the vacuuming, should be sufficient to end a flea infestation. Without pets, the fleas won’t be able to produce progeny. They’ll die out. If it’s some other pest besides fleas, you may need to take further action.

      I don’t think diatomaceous earth applied outside will have much of an effect. This control method primarily works on the adult stage, and adult fleas permanently live on hosts once acquired.

      It may be a good idea to buy a bed frame. Fleas can’t jump higher than 7.9 inches (average 5.2 inches). And don’t let sheets hang from the bed. However, without pets, these steps may be over-kill.

      To prevent bites, pants and socks can be worn, with the pant legs tucked into the socks.

      • Nate September 1, 2016, 9:43 am

        Thanks for your comments! Yes, we are certain that it is fleas, not bedbugs or other pests (thank goodness, I’ll take fleas over bedbugs any day!). We got a good look when we set the traps, which were just bowls of water with dish soap and electric candles. We compared them to pictures online.

        The good news is that the last two times we set out traps, we caught zero fleas. But my wife is still averaging a new bite or two a day. We do have close neighbors with dogs on both sides of our house, and although we have no attic or basement, there is a crawl space. We haven’t heard animals there but it’s possible a cat or raccoon has been there.

        The problem seems to be waning, but it’s frustrating that my wife still regularly has new bites (and a bit confounding that neither I nor my daughter have gotten any…especially since I’m a stay-at-home dad and we are the ones here all the time!)

        Anyway, thanks for the tips!

        • Alicia May 15, 2017, 2:43 pm

          Fleas can favour one person over another, i was like your wife & thankfully my daughter was like you & your daughter.

  • lauren September 1, 2016, 7:37 am


    i had my mother’s cat at mine for 2 weeks, when she left i noticed i had flea’s. I have tried all the sprays and powder but they don’t seem to be dieting. i heard they can not feed on humans and would die within 3 days being that there is no animal host for them to survive on? Is this true and why are they still emerging ?

    • Adam Retzer September 1, 2016, 11:05 am

      Each female flea lays an average of 25 eggs a day. The eggs are laid on the host, but they’re non-sticky so they fall off within a few hours, accumulating in areas where the animal rests (most often carpeting). There, they hatch into larvae and continue developing. In homes, the life cycle completes in 17 to 26. However, cocooned adults can stay quiescent for up to 5 months while they wait to detect a host.

      You’ll likely continue seeing new fleas emerge for up to 8 weeks. The numbers will significantly taper off after a couple weeks. Without pets in the home, they won’t be able to survive. You’ll just have to wait for them to all reach the adult stage and then starve. While they’ll go extinct in your home on their own, there are some things you can do to speed up the process.

      Vacuuming daily is one the best ways to speed up the eradication process. It’ll remove some of the fleas at all stages. Plus, the vacuum causes heat and pressure, two stimuli which emulate a host. This causes the cocooned pre-emerged adults to wake up for their quiescent state and emerge. When vacuuming, focus on areas where the cat spent a lot of time.

      Sprays and powders can help control the fleas in the carpets. Unfortunately, they won’t kill all the fleas. This is because they develop at the base of carpets where the products can’t penetrate well. And while traditional insecticides work well for killing adult fleas, they’re less effective against immature stages. Insect growth regulators (IGR) are more effective against the pre-adult fleas. Look for the ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or (s)-methoprene (Precor). A good example is Martin’s IGR. These compounds mimic the natural insect hormones that regulate development. Exposed eggs and larvae won’t be able to reach adulthood.

      • Serene Dixon July 20, 2017, 3:03 am

        I don’t have a cat any more, it’s been out the house maybe 3.5 weeks and we now have a flea out break.

        I have two newborn babies that I don’t want to get bitten. We do not have carpet but wooden flooring? How long with vacuuming, mopping, sprays and powder do you think they will survive by biting us

        • Adam Retzer July 30, 2017, 2:41 pm

          Most should be gone by the 8 week mark. But you may still see some here or there for longer, as cocooned pre-emerged adults can enter into a dormant-like state for up to 5 months.

          Before the infestation completely ends, all the immature stages in the flooring need to mature, emerge, and die. Once this happens, there should be no new generation, because they can’t reproduce on human blood.

  • Applejacks September 5, 2016, 6:17 pm

    Went to a flea infested house on Tuesday and was bitten horribly. I have not returned and was staying at a hotel. Had a 5 hour flight back on Saturday. Could they survive? Never saw a pet after Tuesday? Washed all clothes. But have 2 cats at home. Should I be worried? Appreciate any help. Thank you

    • Adam Retzer September 6, 2016, 10:46 am

      You should be in the clear. When fleas bite people, they feed and then leave. In rare occasions, they’ll take refuge in clothing if they can’t find a way off the person. However, laundering the clothing will kill any potential fleas.

      • Jennifer July 19, 2017, 9:56 pm

        This happened to me but not only did the fleas spread all over the hotel room, they got into all my clothes. Upon arriving home I dropped everything in the washing machine which is right at my entryway, cleaned each piece of luggage at the entryway…but one month later I am still fighting fleas. This is the 3rd summer I’ve spent fighting fleas and I have never owned a pet. I’ve lived in different apartments during that time. The first time a flea must have hitched a ride from a friend’s house who has a pet (said friend swears to have never had fleas). Second time was from a hotel room where obviously the previous guest kept a pet during their stay. I slept there one night and brought the fleas home. This most recent time was visiting family. Their yard and house had fleas, no pets, but stray cats frequented the yard from the time the previous tenant was here. Those are the fleas that traveled home with me this summer. I’m having long, protracted and frequently recurring flea problems for a person with no pets and for fleas that supposedly “feed and leave.” Is once a year considered “rare”?

        • Adam Retzer July 30, 2017, 2:33 pm

          Jennifer, I’m sorry to hear about your pest problem. Your situation sounds a bit odd. Without pets, I’d guess you are dealing with human fleas (P. irritans), which is a more rare species and one this site isn’t focused on.

          Still, it’s strange that you’re getting recurring infestations every year, and in different locations. Fleas can hitch a ride into homes, but this isn’t common. Most of the time they spread through their host.

          Have you tried applying an insect growth regulator (IGR) to your carpets and floors? Look for the ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). Martin’s IGR is a good choice. They’ll remain active for 7 months, preventing infestations by stopping eggs and larvae from developing. IGRs work by mimicking natural insect hormones that regulate growth and metamorphosis.

          It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on in your case, as the situation seems a bit odd. It may be a good idea to have a pest professional come take a look in person.

          • Jennifer August 3, 2017, 3:41 pm

            I think the fleas are using me as a host and are quite cozy in my very thick and curly long hair. The first year I got fleas I got a professional. They treated twice and no more. I had to treat a third time with store bought foggers before it was over. After that I no longer call extiminators and simply purchase hotshot at Walmart (It says it interrupts the fleas life cycle which i assume is result of an IGR in the formula). Two summers ago my procedures were : treat two to three times with foggers, daily hot bath in hydrogen peroxide and water including submerging my scalp, put down DE, vacuum daily and reapply DE (basically DE was always on my carpets until the infestation was completely eradicated). This summer I’ve fogged every Friday, vacuum every day when in town sometimes I left for the weekend. Spray with natural flea spray. Put down Enforcer powder on my carpets. I also used boric acid both summers (toxic). I’m still battling fleas. I even fog my car (warned against) and spray Ultra Guard on all the seats and carpets. I vacuum the wells of my furniture. I keep vinyl and leather seating because of this recurring flea problem. My mattress and pillows are encased in bedbug protectors–always. I wash my bedding Every Day, which is tiresome. It usually takes the whole summer (June to August) for the bugs to completely die off. As mentioned there was one summer in one home that I did not get fleas–I assume it had been treated for fleas sometime before I moved in and trace pesticide kept things at bay. I will look into human fleas since treatment Might be different. However my sister and I are certain the fleas at her duplex came from a stray cat that her neighbor used to feed. The neighbor has since moved. Do you know of a good resource for human flea treatment information?

          • Adam Retzer August 13, 2017, 4:41 pm

            I do not know any sites that focus purely on human fleas. You best bet is to Google search the term “Pulex irritans” or “P. irritans”.

  • Alicia September 13, 2016, 3:33 pm

    When I found out my dog was infested with fleas, I bathed her, had her treated at vet, and called exterminator for inside/outside. My entire house is tile except the bedrooms which are carpet. I immediately put up baby gates to keep my dog off the carpet after reading the eggs fall off and keep the infestation going. Then I read that may have been e worse thing to do because the pet acts as a moving vacuum and now they will lay dormant for up to a year or feed on us? Can you explain? Should I let the dog back into the carpeted areas?

    • Adam Retzer September 13, 2016, 4:26 pm

      Keeping your dog off the carpet is a great idea. Carpeting provides a near ideal environment for developing fleas. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to remove all the young fleas from carpeting. Tile is a poor environment for fleas. They can still develop in the cracks/grout, or near crevices in baseboards, but these areas are much easier to clean than carpeting. Vacuuming or mopping these places will go a long way in preventing fleas from developing.

      Eggs, larvae, and cocooned pupae live in the environment (carpeting). Once the pupae reach adulthood, they can remain quiescent (a dormant-like state) for up to 5 months. However, the pre-emerged adults immediately emerge from their cocoons once they detect a host. The two host cues that trigger emergence are heat and pressure.

      If eggs fell in the carpeted bedrooms before you quarantined the dog, then there may be pre-emerged fleas there. Walking on the carpets can cause them to emerge, and they may bite you without the dog around. The best way to get rid of these fleas is to vacuum the rooms regularly. Vacuuming causes heat and pressure, triggering them to emerge, and then sucks them up. (These stages can avoid chemical treatments because they develop at the base of carpets where sprays don’t penetrate well.)

  • Maria September 16, 2016, 2:02 pm

    My dad picked up a stray kitten about a month ago. We didn’t realize it had fleas until about two week ago. We don’t know how to keep them off for good. They end up coming back. I found some on me and my baby brother is full of bites. I don’t know what to do. I want to get rid of the fleas for good, but I don’t want to get rid of the cat. What should I do?

    • Adam Retzer September 17, 2016, 12:16 pm

      Hello Maria. The fleas are coming back because 95-99% of the population are eggs, larvae, and pupae in the environment (carpeting). Even after you’ve removed the adult fleas from the kitten, environmental stages will continue to mature and emerge as adults to re-infest the cat.

      See our page on How to get rid of fleas for a comprehensive guide.

  • Corey September 17, 2016, 9:02 am

    I have two outside dogs that sleep in my livestock barn. The livestock barn became invested with fleas this summer a few months after the livestock moved to another location. We have segregated the dogs fromy the barn, began oral flea medications and had an exterminator out 3 times to treat barn. The barn still has some fleas, but not as bad (seemed to be literally thousands before). My question is, can fleas reside and reproduce on cattle? Any suggestions on finishing the job on the fleas in the barn?

    • Adam Retzer September 17, 2016, 12:32 pm

      Hello Corey. Cat fleas can infest and reproduce on cattle, but they aren’t a preferred host. A barn is a tricky place to treat. Spraying the ground with an insect growth regulator, such as pyriproxyfen or methoprene, is the best bet for control. Check out Nyguard. IGRs prevent pre-adult fleas from maturing. However, cocooned adults are the problem stage, as they are somewhat resistant to chemical treatments and can remain quiescent for up to 5 months while they wait for a host. In homes, it’s possible to force these fleas to emerge by vacuuming. Unfortunately, in a barn, it’s likely the infestation won’t be completely killed off until winter hits.

      • Corey September 18, 2016, 6:14 am

        Thank you, they treated the first time about 4 weeks ago. Came back 2 weeks later and again this week. They used an adulticide and a IGR the 1st 2 times and then the same plus Seven granular the 3rd time. I have read good things online about diamtaecous earth and killer nematodes. I know I have to wait to do the nematodes because of the spray. But have heard they will kill eggs, larvae and cocooned adults. Would you recommend that option? If so, any particular brand?

        • Adam Retzer September 25, 2016, 3:39 pm

          Sorry for the late reply Corey. I’ve never read any authoritative source that recommends using either of these two methods for effective control.

          There aren’t many studies done on fleas and diatomaceous earth. I know many sites laud it as a safe, natural flea solution. However, it’s most effective against the adult stage of insects. With fleas, the adults live exclusively on pets once they jump on them. DE is also somewhat effective against insect larvae. That said, the IGR is going to be more effective at killing the fleas inside your home than diatomaceous earth.

          Nematodes are to be used outdoors, in turf or soil. Here’s a snippet from The Biology, Ecology, and Management of the Cat Flea:

          The entomophilic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae will attack and kill larvae, prepupae, and pupae. However, fleas do not support complete nematode development, and moist substrates would be necessary for the nematode to survive to infect more than one generation of fleas. Currently, a product containing nematodes is registered for outdoor applications to turf and has been shown to be effective in reducing flea populations in soil.

  • AMANDA September 24, 2016, 9:07 pm

    Hi, I was just sitti lng on my couch and got atleast 10 pin sized bites on my feet and ankles. My boyfriend sitting next to me received 0. Hes been home alot of the day however him and our children were at his parents flea infested house earlier today. What are the odds they brought some home? We have a newborn and I’m extremely paranoid about bugs, bites and rhe chemicals to get rid of them affecting our newborn and i am highly sensitive myself.

    • Adam Retzer September 25, 2016, 3:13 pm

      Pin-sized bites don’t sound like fleas. Flea bites are similar to mosquito bites. They initially wheal (skin elevates). Then 24 hours later, the bite reaction turns into a hard, itchy papule (welt), which fades away in a few days.

      Fleas can hitchhike on people’s clothes, but this isn’t common. Most infestations begin outdoors. Infested urban wildlife, such as raccoons or feral cats, bring flea eggs into a yard. The fleas mature and jump onto a dog or cat, which bring them into the home.

      Do you have pets? If not, you don’t have much to worry about. If you do have pets, you can be proactive and catch the infestation early by using a flea comb on the pets and vacuuming regularly. However, if the infestation gets out of control, chemical measures will likely be needed.

  • Skylar September 27, 2016, 6:24 pm

    So my boyfriend has fleas (and he has them bad his mother is kind of crazy when it comes to cat they have 13 cats and 1 dog) and he comes over once sometimes twice a week to hang out and as of late I’ve been finding flea. I do not have any animals or has there ever been animals in this house because it’s was new construction and my house is very clean because my grandma is a clean freak and I don’t know if I should be worried about A flea infestation but I am; so my question is should I be worried about it?

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2016, 1:06 pm

      The fleas are probably hitch-hiking on your boyfriend’s clothing. However, if you don’t have pets in your home, then there isn’t anything to worry about it. They won’t be able to reproduce, so there’s no chance of infestation. You may want to tell your boyfriend to brush himself off before entering your home, so any fleas are knocked off his clothing.

  • Taylor September 27, 2016, 9:03 pm

    Hi, so we’ve recently gotten a cat and about the second month of having him he got fleas. We also have a much older cat named Pepper who’s never had a problem with bugs of any sort, but once he brought in the fleas, she developed them too. We took them both to the vet and got their shots and some treatment. The problem is this- the bites. Before they went to the vet, everyone including me was getting bitten 24/7. After they were treated, nobody in the house stopped getting bitten except for me. I had my sheets washed every few days, but I notice that both of my cats sleep in my bed frequently, and we also have a carpet in my room that I don’t vacuum often. Whenever I’m sitting down, I almost always notice at least on fleas that will be going across my shirt, and I’ll try to kill it but it will inevitably jump away. The point is, I have a problem with fleas when I go to sleep, and I’m not sure if they’re coming from the rug, my sheets, my cats, or if they’re trying to hide out in my robe/clothes? (I wear a robe frequently, that has loose fibers that are good for hiding, I guess) Please help, the bites are too much for me anymore.

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2016, 12:54 pm

      The fleas that are biting you are most likely coming from the carpets or rugs. If the cats are sleeping on your bed, eggs may be falling and developing there as well. It’s doubtful that the fleas are on your robe, unless it’s left laying around where the cats can lay on it.

      To help stop bites, vacuum the carpets every other day. Focus on rooms where the cats spend a lot of time. Launder the rugs, pet beds, and your bedding (since the cats sleep there) weekly. It may also be a good idea to prevent the cats from entering your bedroom, so fleas aren’t developing in the room where you sleep.

      Fleas can’t jump higher than a human ankle. They access people by jumping on their feet. Thus, bites can be prevented by spraying socks and pants with permethrin insect repellent for clothing. Tucking your pant legs into your socks is another good idea.

  • Lyndsay September 30, 2016, 9:10 am

    My indoor cat got out for two weeks and just came home two days ago. He was in the house for about 2 hours before we noticed he had fleas. We treated him and our other cat right away, but I am terribly worried that my house will become infested. I have vacuumed and treated the carpets for the last two days, and I vacuumed and mopped the hardwood floors. I have washed all of the laundry that was exposed in hot water. I plan on using a fogger in the basement, as I cannot get to all of the areas down there. I feel that I have controlled the situation fairly quickly, but I am wondering if I need to do anything else to avoid an infestation. I have quarantined my female cat to one of the bedrooms, and the cat with fleas in only allowed in the areas with hardwood. Am I in a better situation since I noticed the fleas right away?

    • Adam Retzer September 30, 2016, 2:20 pm

      Yes, you’re in a much better situation for noticing the fleas right away and taking quick action. What did you treat the cats with? And what did you treat the carpets with?

      Vacuuming regularly (every other day) is one the best ways to prevent the infestation from growing indoors. Flea eggs are laid on the host, but fall off within a few hours. So, if the cats are quarantined to certain areas, you’ll only need to vacuum those places. This will make the sanitation efforts much easier. It’s also a good idea to launder pet bedding weekly.

      Ensure the treatment you used on the carpets (and the fogger you’re planning to use) contains an insect growth regulator (IGR). Look for the ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). One treatment will last 7 months indoors. Immature stages exposed to the IGR won’t be able to mature into adults.

      • lyndsay September 30, 2016, 2:56 pm

        I treated the cats with bayer defense care, per the recommendation of the employee at petsmart. I treated the carpet with HomeMD maximum defense flea and tick carpet spray, as it said it defends against all stages of development. I have never dealt with fleas before, and I may have read too many horror stories online & I am freaked out that I will have in infestation. I appreciate the information – this is the best website I have found!

        • Adam Retzer October 1, 2016, 3:40 pm

          Those treatments should work well. Along with regular vacuuming, you shouldn’t have trouble getting the problem under control. Just keep in mind, even after all proper treatment is in place, you’ll likely still fleas here or there for a few weeks.

          I appreciate the compliments on the site. Those horror stories usually result from pet owners not catching the infestation right away, and then opting to employ unproven control methods, or making halfhearted attempts at control.

  • Johnny October 10, 2016, 4:26 pm

    Is it safe to move in a house with fleas ?I’m renting a house and it has fleas. Previous tenant had 2 dogs. The funny thing is that wen the previous tenant was still there , my wife and I went did a tour through the house and everything was fine. No bites nor sign of any fleas. But the day we were going to move in we notice the house was fill with fleas..!!! My whole family got bitten after the house tour. So we decided to call the exterminater to come treat the whole house and yard and prospond the move in. It’s been close to a week since the treat and one more tomorrow. But two days after the 1st treatment I still see fleas. Well it be safe to move in after the sec treatment? I have 4 kids and all I want is safety for them. I’m so stress and frustrated bout the situation. I have no pets or bringing no pets wen I moved in. Please help me out..!!!

    • Adam Retzer October 10, 2016, 5:48 pm

      Hello Johnny, that is a frustrating situation. You likely didn’t see the fleas initially because adult fleas live exclusively on their host once acquired. But 95-99% of the infestation is eggs, larvae, and pupae, which live in the environment. When you came back the day you were going to move, those immature stages had completely matured and were looking for a host.

      The good news is that the infestation won’t be able to continue without an animal host. The bad news is you’ll likely continue to see fleas here or there for some weeks, with diminishing intensity. The insecticides won’t be able to penetrate deep into the carpet where the fleas develop, so some will escape treatment.

      It will be safe to enter the home. The best course of action is to vacuum often. This will remove any emerging fleas from the carpets, and will force cocooned adults to emerge. Focus your attention on rooms where the most fleas tend to be (these areas will be where the previous owner’s pet liked to rest).

      You may want to have your family wear long pants and socks indoors for a few weeks. Tuck the pant legs into the socks. This will prevent flea bites, as they can only jump to the height of a human ankle and can’t bite through most clothing types. Also, don’t allow your bed sheets to hang to the floor, so the fleas don’t have a route onto the bed to bite you at night.

      • Johnny October 10, 2016, 9:55 pm

        O.. Forgot to mention it’s only hardware floors and tiles…. But other question is thst if fleas can’t jump so high .. Than why does my family upper body got bitten as well..?

        • Adam Retzer October 17, 2016, 3:51 pm

          Fleas can sometimes get onto beds and sofas if the infested animal is allowed onto these pieces of furniture. The fleas will then have access to other body parts. Additionally, if you or your family spend any time sitting or laying on the floor, then the fleas will have access to other body parts. Lastly, fleas can crawl once they jump onto a person, but this is rare. Usually they bite immediately upon contacting skin and won’t venture higher than a person’s legs.

  • Louise October 10, 2016, 8:51 pm

    Hi! I recently let a friend visit my home with her kitten. Unfortunately the kitten had fleas and now my home is infested. I’ve been spraying once a week with Raid and vacuuming every day. Its been a month now and the fleas for the most part are gone. But i’ve noticed a few flea bites on me. How long will it take for them to be gone completely?

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2016, 4:16 pm

      Louise, it usually takes around 8 weeks for the fleas to be completely eradicated. You should be in the clear soon. In homes, the flea life cycle completes in 17-26 days. So, the last eggs laid should reach adulthood by then and be killed. The problem life stage is the cocooned adult. After fully maturing, the adult can stay quiescent inside its cocoon for up to 5 months while it waits to detect a host. Vacuuming simulates host cues and forces emergence.

  • Lori October 17, 2016, 1:06 pm

    Whe have dog fleas. It has been almost a month. Are dog has been living in our camper for the last 2.5 weeks. We had an exterminator out to treat 2 weeks ago and we are still catching in the water and candle trick at least 50-60 fleas each night. How long will it be this bad if we don’t have the dog in the house. We have the exterminater coming out agian today. we are going crazy. each of us pull at least two to 4 off of ourself each day? we are doing everything we are suppose to be doing . vacumming , sprays everything. should we have let the dog stay in? Help

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2016, 4:01 pm

      From what you’ve written, it doesn’t sound like you’re treating your dog. The infestation won’t be thwarted until you do. After adult fleas acquire a host, they stay on that animal permanently. Each female lays around 25 eggs a day. The eggs fall into the environment and develop there.

      Insecticides are best at killing adults fleas, which are mostly on the dog and not in the environment that the exterminator is treating. Immature stages avoid light, and live deep within carpets (or other substrates) making them somewhat resistant to chemical treatments. The best treatments you can use on the environment are insect growth regulators (IGR), either pyirproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). Ensure the exterminator is using one of these compounds.

      After all proper treatment is in place, you’ll likely continue seeing fleas for around 8 weeks, with diminishing numbers of fleas as time goes on.

  • Claire October 24, 2016, 1:13 am

    Hi, I have just returned from a med cruise, while there I have been badly bitten by fleas. The cruise ship said they changed linen and sprayed the cabin but I’m not convinced about spraying as I was bitten again after both of these. I arrived home yesterday to find a new bite on my ankle. (After about 8 hours of leaving the ship and taking various forms of transport including a flight) Does this mean fleas could be living on me, if I’ve showered would that kill them? Could they have travelled in my shoes and clothes, I will wash everything in case or could it be the bite was still whilst on the ship but took over 8 hours to itch?
    We caught one flea while on the ship and have a photo to identify it as such. I am having really bad reactions to the bites so am worried I have night them home with me, is this possible? Thank you

    • Adam Retzer October 29, 2016, 3:33 pm

      Hello Claire, sorry to hear about the unpleasant situation on your vacation. Fleas don’t live on people. If, on the off chance, any happened to be trapped on you, the shower would have removed them. They could have hitchhiked on your clothes, but this isn’t common. Laundering the clothes will kill any potential fleas.

      The bite could have very well been from when you were on the ship. The initial bite reaction is a wheal, which is just an elevated area of skin. Wheals don’t usually itch, and it may have gone unnoticed. 24 hours after the bite, the wheal fades and is replaced with an itchy papule (welt).

      It’s unlikely that you brought fleas home with you. And even less likely they’ll survive if you did, especially if you don’t have pets.

  • Julianna October 24, 2016, 7:10 pm

    I have a kitten infested with fleas and she slept in my bed recently. I woke up with 4 bites in my legs. Since she slept in my bed and I have thick, long hair, I am really worried. Can the fleas hide and live in my hair?
    Thank you!

    • Adam Retzer October 29, 2016, 4:00 pm

      The fleas won’t live on your body or in your hair. When they bite people, they feed and then leave. It’s possible that they could get trapped on you if they can’t find a way off. If so, shampooing will remove them. But, in general, they prefer not to be there.

      The more important issue is that fleas eggs likely fell onto your bedding while your kitten was there. The eggs can develop there. Eventually they’ll hatch into adults and bite you. It would be a good idea to launder your bedding to kill any potential fleas.

  • Erica Kaye November 1, 2016, 11:40 am

    We have 2 cats, and we recently discovered that 1 of them has fleas. I was getting very itchy bites, which is how we knew to look for fleas. We took both cats to the vet, where they both received treatment, and we purchased the prophylactic meds to continue doing monthly treatments indefinitely. We threw away our sofa covers and bought new ones after waiting 48 hours after the cat treatment. We laundered all of our blankets and packed them away, placed our sofa pillows in garbage bags, and vacuumed the rugs. Despite this, I continue to get bitten like crazy. I think that I am getting bitten worse at night, because I woke up with 15+ bites on my legs yesterday morning (although I suppose it is possible that I am getting bitten earlier in the evening, but the reaction is not appearing until hours later..?) We have not allowed the cats in our bedroom for >9 months (since having a baby), so I am confused as to why I seem to be getting bitten so much at night. We’ve laundered all of the bedding multiple times and vacuumed the chair in our bedroom, but it hasn’t seemed to help. I am the only one getting bitten – my husband and 9 month old daughter, who also both sleep in this bedroom, have not had a single insect bite. I am going out of my mind – it is so itchy and miserable!! Any advice would be so very appreciated.

    • Adam Retzer November 1, 2016, 5:02 pm

      It sounds like you’ve taken many of the correct steps. Ensure you are vacuuming often, as most fleas develop in carpeting. This will help speed up the eradication process.

      The initial reaction to flea bites is a wheal (raised area of skin), and it isn’t very itchy and sometimes isn’t noticeable. However, 24 hours after the bite, the wheal fades and is replaced by an itchy papule (welt). This may be why you aren’t noticing the bites until you wake up.

      If the cats aren’t allowed in your bedroom, it’s very unlikely that there are fleas there and that they are biting you while sleeping. Even if the cats did enter the room (not on the bed), fleas can’t jump high enough to get into beds, unless the sheets are hanging on the ground. You may be also dealing with bed bugs, but most likely the bites you are noticing are just a delayed reaction from the fleas.

      The person who gets bit the most often spends the most time in flea-infested areas (areas of the home where the cats spend a lot of time). Also, clothing can pay a role, as fleas can’t bite through most clothing types. If more skin is exposed on your feet and legs, then you’ll get bit more. Wearing socks and pants, and tucking the pants into the socks, can help stop bites.

  • Scott Trenholm November 2, 2016, 4:01 am

    Can flea medicine cause hair to fall out on cats? Mine is loosing hair down it’s backbone.

    • Adam Retzer November 2, 2016, 4:17 pm

      What flea treatment did you use? I’ll do a little research. But I’ve never read anything suggesting that the active ingredients in popular flea drops cause hair loss.

      Flea allergy dermatitis can cause hair loss on cats and dogs. If pets are allergic to flea bites, they will excessively groom. The vigorous biting and scratching and can lead to hair loss and skin infections.

  • felicia November 3, 2016, 11:56 pm

    I think I brought fleas home from my cousins bout 2 weeks ago.. my indoor out door cat does not have them he gets treated every month because he is indoor outdoor but my indoor cat and 2 dogs have them not many.I pulled 2 off my cat and so far one off my dog should I bomb the place just incase and get carpet powder for fleas? And since there not bad what do u suggest for treatment?

    • Adam Retzer November 5, 2016, 4:42 pm

      If you found fleas on your indoor cat and dogs, then you have an infestation. It will get worse if you don’t take action. Each adult female lays around 25 eggs a day. The eggs are laid on the host, but are non-sticky and fall into the environment within a few hours. Adults only make up 1-5% of the infestation. The other 95-99% are immature stages in the environment. Once they mature into adults in a few weeks, the problem will appear worse.

      Since you’ve found the fleas early, it should be relatively easy to get them under control. You can view our page on How to get rid of fleas for details on treatment.

  • Caitlin November 4, 2016, 6:33 pm

    Hi, my cat died at least a month ago and I’m getting bitten by fleas at least every day and on a few occasions I have seen them on my skin. How are they still alive in my house and on me when my mum has steam cleaned, Hoovered, set traps around the house multiple times. How is it that me and my mums boyfriend get bit but my mum dose not? Is it possible that the could survive in my hair? How can I get rid because the bits are painful and down right annoying?

    • Adam Retzer November 5, 2016, 4:59 pm

      The number of fleas you’re seeing should be diminishing soon. In most cases, it takes around 8 weeks before they’re all gone, though sometimes it takes longer depending on the severity of the infestation.

      The eggs that were laid a month ago should now emerging as adults. The life cycle, from egg to adult, completes in 17 to 26 days. However, the cocooned adults can stay quiescent (dormant-like) for up to 5 months while they wait for a host. Heat and pressure cause them to emerge from their cocoons. Vacuuming can simulate these host cues and help force the cocooned adults to emerge.

      Steam cleaning and vacuuming are very helpful from reducing the flea population, but it won’t remove all of them. This is because flea larvae live at the base of carpets, where the steam can’t penetrate well and where vacuums can’t remove them. Flea traps aren’t all that effective for control. They only work on already-emerged adults, and don’t attract 100% of them. Overall, this is a very small percentage of the flea population. However, the traps are useful for assessing flea populations and determining when the infestation is over.

      The person who gets bit more in a home often spends more time in the infested areas. These are the areas where the cat spent the most time resting. Having more exposed skin around the ankles and feet can also lead to more bites, as fleas can’t bite through most clothes.

      Fleas can’t survive in your hair. When they bite people, they leave immediately afterwards. Plus, they can only jump to the height of a human ankle and don’t wander much before biting.

      To prevent bites, you can wear sock and pants indoors, and tuck the pant legs into the socks. Another option is to use permethrin clothing repellent. To help stop the bites from itching, hydrocortisone cream or anti-itch lotion can be used.

  • Kerns November 5, 2016, 5:40 am

    I had a dog that had fleas but the dog is no longer with me. How long will it take to get them out of my house? I have at least 30 bites on my legs and the only time I get bit is when I’m sleeping.

    • Adam Retzer November 7, 2016, 2:28 pm

      It often takes around 8 weeks before all the fleas are gone. The flea life cycle, from egg to adult, completes 17 to 26 days. After emerging, the adults will starve to death in a week or two without an animal host. Unfortunately, after pupating, cocooned adults can stay quiescent for up to 5 months. They’ll emerge once they detect a host (heat and pressure). Vacuuming can replicate these host cues and force emergence.

      It would be a good idea to wash your bedding to kill any fleas there. Also, don’t let the sheets hang low to the ground, as fleas can only jump to the height of a human ankle.

      It sounds like you’re being bitten before going to bed, because the bites are concentrated on your legs. If fleas were in your bed, you would be getting bit all over. The initial bite reaction is a wheal (an area of elevated skin) and it isn’t too itchy or noticeable. 24 hours after the bite, the wheal is replaced with a red, itchy papule (welt). So you may not be noticing the bite until the delayed reaction is present when you wake up.

      Tucking your pant legs into your socks can help stop flea bites, as fleas can’t bite through most fabrics.

  • george November 5, 2016, 7:26 pm

    Thanks for the detailed discussion. I got bitten, mostly in pairs, above and below the ankles, for a week, not realizing what it was, and then found out the apartment neighbour’s dog had fleas and I actually witnessed her scratching in front of my door. My neighbours say they aren’t getting bitten so they don’t seem to be too concerned. 🙁

    Last week, I sprayed RAID (pyrethrins, tetramethrin, piperonyl butoxide, N-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboxide, (S)-methoprene) outside and inside (and neighbours said they’re treating the dog). I wore long pants and socks. I stopped getting bitten for a week, until yesterday and today (stayed home more, didn’t wear long pants and socks, was in the hallway a bit longer than normal)

    I’m not sure if I’m getting bitten on my way in and out, or if they have entered my apartment. Any way to tell?

    Also, long pants and socks seem like a great strategy but they irritate and inflame my existing bites on ankles/foot/leg 🙁

    I will also vacuum and launder and shower more frequently. But I’m not sure where to focus on. Could I be bringing in eggs or fleas with my shoes?
    Same issue with spraying the RAID – any areas I should focus on? Entrance, where I sit, where I sleep?? baseboards? Unfortunately my apartment unit is entirely carpeted.

    • Adam Retzer November 7, 2016, 3:14 pm

      Hi George. The first thing is to identify the pest. While it does sound like fleas are the likely culprit, there are other pests that could be causing the bites. Did you neighbors find fleas on the dog? A good way to identify the pest is to use a sticky flea trap. Flea traps aren’t all that great for control, but they’ll help you identify the pest, estimate the population, and determine when the infestation is over. Perhaps get two traps, placing one inside your apartment and one outside your apartment?

      The Raid you sprayed will help prevent the infestation from getting worse, specifically the methoprene. This is an insect growth regulator that mimics natural insect hormones. It will prevent eggs and larvae in the carpet from reaching adulthood. And it will remain active for up to 7 months.

      Unfortunately, a big part of flea control involves treating the pet, which you don’t have much control over. This is where adults fleas live and where eggs are laid. The eggs fall off within a few hours of being laid, and are dispersed wherever the dog roams. Hopefully your neighbors are properly treating the dog, and will be diligent about adhering the labeled instructions.

      Vacuuming more frequently is going to be best control method you can use. If you don’t have pets, and the neighbor’s dog hangs out around your door, then your entrance probably deserves the most attention. It sounds like the hallway may be where the immature fleas are living.

      Adult fleas can hitchhike on clothes. But they won’t be able to survive long in your apartment without a pet. Even if eggs somehow got into your apartment, the larvae can’t survive there because they require adult flea feces (flea dirt) to feed on, which falls off of the host along with eggs.

      I’d like to mention, the advice mentioned above applies to cat fleas (C. felis), which is by far the most common flea species found on both dogs and cats. However, there is another species that this website doesn’t focus on, which is somewhat rare, called the human flea (P. irritans). And of course, it may be another pest altogether. Identification is important for determining the best control strategy.

  • R Hunt November 7, 2016, 4:21 pm

    I had my sisters cat for a couple of months two years ago and had a flea infestation. The cat went back to my sister and I had 2 lots of flea treatments from the council. Last year I kept getting bitten, they appeared to be in my duvet. I got rid of the duvet and they went. I have now got them back. How and why do they come back? And how do they get into my duvet with no pets around?

    • Adam Retzer November 9, 2016, 6:18 pm

      The pest you’re dealing with doesn’t sound like cat fleas (C. felis) or dog fleas (C. canis). The longest they’d be able to survive without any pets in the home is around 5 months (as cocooned pre-emerged adults).

      It’s possible you’re dealing with human fleas (P. irritans), which is a more rare species. Unfortunately, this website isn’t geared towards human fleas and my knowledge is limited.

  • Sheri November 15, 2016, 10:06 am

    We moved into our new place beginning of September. We brought along an outside cat but missed a flea treatment. At our new residence a Tom cat attacked her and I let her in our basement at night. A month ago I noticed a flea on me. 2 weeks later one on my daughters hand as I was reading to her on her bed. Last week as I was doing her hair, one was in her hair. I flipped the cat has been outside with a new flea treatment and I swept and bombed my house last Friday. Washed all sheets, all clothes, washed the floors after the bombing. We only have 2 carpet areas the rest is real hardword floor with grooves in the floor. The cat will be staying outside or going to the SPCA as I can’t deal with that (our landlord doesn’t even allow them to be in the house). I have been sweeping every other day. This morning I found one on me and one in my daughters hair. As I went to grab it jumped and disappeared. Completely grossed out. I’m planning to bomb again. As for now the cat has a new cocoon bed/house on the porch. We also just found out the tentants before us brought their dog inside at night and struggled to get rid of fleas. Do you have more advice for us in this situation? Bug people are telling me it can take up to 6 months to get rid of them.

    • Adam Retzer November 16, 2016, 4:27 pm

      It may take up to 5 months to get rid of the fleas. However, in most cases, they can be eradicated in around 8 weeks. For the infestation to completely end, all the pre-adult stages in the environment must mature, emerge, and then die. The life cycle, from egg to adult, completes in 17-26 days indoors. Emerged adults will starve within a week or two without a pet in the home.

      The only stage that can survive for 5 months are cocooned adult fleas. These pre-emerge adults can stay quiescent (dormant-like) while they wait to detect a host. Heat and physical pressure indicate a host is resting on the cocoons, and they will rapidly emerge. Vacuuming is a good way to simulate these host cues and force emergence.

      Ensure the bomb or spray you use contains an insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). These ingredients will prevent eggs and larvae from maturing into adults. Immature stages account for 95-99% of the population. The IGR will last 7 months. Repeated bombing won’t have much effect. It will kill the emerged adult fleas, but adults make up a very small percent of the infestation. The bombing or spray won’t be able to penetrate deep into carpets where the fleas develop.

      Vacuuming the carpets, and other sanitation techniques on the other floors, is one the best things you can do to speed up the eradication. Sweeping may not be the best control method, as it may push all the eggs and flea dirt together into cracks, crevices, and corners. It would be a good idea to use a vacuum attachment for these areas. Also, launder rugs and pet bedding weekly.

  • M.. November 20, 2016, 6:10 pm

    I noticed my cat had fleas on Tuesday unfortunately he is no longer with is. That Tuesday we bombed the upstaris (all carpet) and sprayed downstairs (wood floors). It is now Sunday and I’ve vaccumed everyday and in still seeing fleas. I have a rug downstairs which I’ve sprayed twice I vacuumed last night and today and I’m still seeing live fleas i canister of vaccum. How long will I har this problem my home is now animal free and I will continue to vaccum but how long will they live in my home. I’ve been washing like a crazy person also. I hate bugs what should I do next? Help please!

    • Adam Retzer November 22, 2016, 12:21 pm

      It usually takes around 8 weeks before the fleas are completely gone. Immature stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae) make up 95-99% of the infestation and live in the environment. The infestation will be completely over once these stages mature into adults and die. In homes the flea life cycle, from egg to adult, completes in 17-26 days. However, cocooned adults can stay quiescent for up 5 months.

      Spraying has a limited effect, because it mainly kills the emerged adult fleas, of which there aren’t many. The immature stages live deep within the carpet fibers where sprays can’t penetrate. Ensure the spray you used contains an insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). IGRs are more effective against the immature stages than traditional insecticides. They have a long residual effect (7 months), and exposed eggs and larvae can’t reach adulthood.

      The best procedure to speed up the eradication process is to vacuum regularly. This will remove some of the eggs, larvae, and pupae. It will also force the pre-emerged adults to emerge, and suck them up as they do.

  • Gabriel November 20, 2016, 9:25 pm

    I went to a friend’s house two weeks ago and his cat had fleas. They moved into my sweatshirt lining, and still bite even after several washes. I have no pets. I have found a few on my body after being away for hours. Is this a problem?
    Or will they eventually go away if I wash more?

    • Adam Retzer November 22, 2016, 12:29 pm

      Fleas don’t usually stay on people after biting, unless they can’t find a way off the person. They wouldn’t stay in clothing for 2 weeks. They would starve to death without a host. And they definitely can’t survive on clothes that have been washed and dried. Are you sure these are fleas? Can you get a picture? Regardless, without pets, the fleas won’t be able to survive or reproduce in your home.

  • JimT November 30, 2016, 8:13 pm

    Many sites offer advice on what to do, such as vacuuming, and using a growth inhibitor, and flea traps to monitor population. But this site explains why, which helps a lot. Because our dog died and the indoor cat alternates houses, I have the option of letting the (now flea-freez) cat stay elsewhere a few months and it sounds like that will help. The fleas but my daughter but not me, and I had been worried that she might provide the flea colony with a lifeline, but it sounds like a single bite will not enable a flea to lay 100 eggs. Phew!

    Three questions : is there a risk that too much vacuuming will remove the IGR? And how long will the IGR last on a wood floor, both where there is and is not foot traffic? Finally, in the rooms with no rugs, will vacuuming bring them out of the baseboards if that is where they have been hiding? Thanks!

    • Adam Retzer December 2, 2016, 12:20 pm

      1) There have been studies showing that vacuuming doesn’t affect the residual activity insecticides much. They didn’t specifically test IGRs, but IGRs last much longer than traditional insecticides. Here’s the journal article:

      2) The IGR should last for around 7 months indoors. It’s possible that some may get removed on hardwood floor surfaces that get a lot of foot traffic. However, these areas wouldn’t support fleas anyway. The larvae seek out dark, protected areas. So if they were developing on hardwood, it would be in cracks, crevices, and areas where debris collects. It would be difficult to remove the IGR from these areas by walking.

      3) Vacuuming around the baseboards may not force the emergence of cocooned adults the way vacuuming carpets does. However, using a vacuum nozzle attachment will likely remove eggs, larvae, pupae, and pre-emerged adults by sucking them up. The developing fleas are less protected from vacuum removal on hardwood floors than they are at the base of carpeting.

  • Anneline December 8, 2016, 4:12 am

    I’ve been getting bitten for almost a week now by fleas …our dog was infested and stays outside. We put Baby powder all over the floors thinking it would work but they were still biting me then we got the pest control people and they sprayed over the powder 4 days ago and again last night..and this morning i felt itchy and a red bump on my thigh. Its biting me not my husband and I’ve even tried making repellent sprays with essential oils and spraying myself..I used lemon,rosemary,citronella,lavender and nothing works and just now I used cedar wood oil why are they only jumping on me is it cause I shaved my legs the other day and had a few blood spots on my leg is that why they only clinging to me ..please help

    • Adam Retzer December 9, 2016, 5:00 pm

      Please view our page on How to get rid of fleas. It should cover most of your concerns. There’s no evidence, aside from anecdotal reports, that essential oils repel fleas. And I’ve never heard of baby powder being used against fleas.

      To help prevent bites, it can be helpful to wear pants and long socks. Then tuck the pant legs into the socks. Fleas can’t bite through most fabrics.

  • H K December 27, 2016, 1:03 am

    My husband and I lived in an apartment last year and found ourselves victim to a flea infestation (even though we have no pets) we’ve moved twice since then, keeping the same mattress. Each place we’ve moved, I’m still managing to get bites (and have found fleas.) Our mattress has primarily been on the floor. Could the fleas have lived in the mattress this entire time? If so, should we buy a new mattress or is it possible to get rid of all the fleas? (Eggs, larvae, etc.)

    • Adam Retzer December 27, 2016, 5:28 pm

      Without any pets, it’s doubtful that you have a cat flea (C. felis) infestation, which is the dominant species that infests dogs and cats. Unfortunately, my knowledge is focused around this species. From what you’ve described, I think you may be dealing with human fleas (P. irritans), a more rare species. You may want to find an exterminator more familiar with this species.

      Regardless of species, fleas (of domestic importance) usually develop in carpets. Having the mattress on the ground would definitely make it more accessible to the fleas. Instead of disposing of the mattress, it may be a good idea to purchase a bed frame, to lift the mattress off the ground. Fleas can only jump to the height of a human ankle. By lifting the mattress, and keeping the sheets from hanging to the ground, you’ll restrict the fleas’ access to the bed. Regularly washing the bedding will kill any potential fleas already developing there.

      It’s possible that some fleas survived on the mattress during your moves. But fleas don’t “infest” mattresses (like bed bugs do). Instead, eggs may have fallen on the mattress’s surface, and then larvae could have developed there. So, I don’t think the mattress is too big of an issue, but, like I say, my knowledge is lacking with human fleas.

  • Nathan December 28, 2016, 8:41 am

    if a flea bites a human and then a dog would it still produce eggs that hatch?

    • Adam Retzer December 28, 2016, 5:00 pm

      Yes. Once the (female) flea jumps onto the dog, it will feed, mate, and begin laying eggs in around 24 hours. I’ve never read anything suggesting that human blood has any kind of persisting effect that reduces fertility.

  • Anya February 20, 2017, 5:22 pm

    Hi Adam,
    I just got a new place two weeks ago, and started seeing fleas a week later. Yesterday I saw a lot suddenly (it’s getting warmer out, assuming this is why). I couldn’t stand it so I ripped the carpets out of the rooms that had them (was going to replace them before long anyway) and vacuumed and washed the floors with dishsoap. A whole lot of fleas jumped out when I did that. I’ve taken the carpets, sealed, to the dump.
    I’m still finding a lot of fleas, although they sometimes look pretty miserable and are just skittering like they can’t jump. I’ve found a free bites on my ankles and hands.
    I’m assuming they’re dog fleas because the guy who had this place before me had a dog.

    My question is, if I just keep vacuuming and get the floors replaced with wood, will that be enough? The carpets had no underlay.

    I’m guessing the fleas can’t be in my stuff, right? Or, at least, they can’t have laid eggs in my stuff? Because the house was empty for a month before I moved in…?

    And also, my bed is on the floor, it’s REALLY low, so I’m a bit creeped out in case they are in it. Do I need to raise it up? Finally, they can’t be in my hair can they? This whole thing makes me feel itchy.

    Thanks so much. Your site is so useful! Apologies if some of these questions are a bit dumb.

    • Adam Retzer February 22, 2017, 3:00 pm

      As you mention, the previous tenant’s dog likely had fleas. If you don’t have pets, then vacuuming and patience should be enough to end the infestation. Usually it takes around 8 weeks for the infestation to end. The immature stages in the environment must all mature into adults, emerge, and then die. By removing the carpeting, you likely eliminated a large reservoir of fleas in your home. However, it won’t remove 100% of them.

      The fleas shouldn’t be in your belongings. Adults wouldn’t be attracted to your things. However, they may occasionally be found on items very close to the ground (e.g rugs). And eggs can’t be laid without an animal host. When eggs are produced, they are laid on animals, and then they fall into the environment. So, even if you had a pet, the new eggs would only be found where they drop from the animal (e.g. carpets, rugs, pet beds).

      It’d be a good idea to raise up your bed. Otherwise you may wake up to find new bites on you. Fleas can jump as high as 8 inches into the air. A standard bed frame is high enough to prevent them from reaching the bed. Fleas can also crawl, so sheets hanging low to the floor can give them access to beds.

      Fleas don’t live on people. They may bite, but then they leave. Fleas aren’t usually found on people’s heads. This area is too far away from the ground, where fleas develop. When fleas jump onto people, they feed readily without much wandering. So most bites occur on the ankles and feet. It’s possible for fleas to temporarily be found in hair if the person lays on the ground, or if they allow infested pets into their beds, because then their head is directly in the area where fleas are developing.

  • Julie February 24, 2017, 9:05 pm

    I recently moved into an apartment and being bitten daily. I’ve caught a few of the little turds and they are definitely fleas. I don’t have any pets but the tenant before me had a dog and I also found out that the apartment has a mice problem. I’m working on the mice but it’s an old building with lots of ways for them to get in. Are the mice perpetrating the flea problem? Will I be unable to rid myself of fleas if I can’t get rid of the mice? Is this going to extend the usual 8 wk till no flea timeline? Any suggestions?

    Thank you so much for your help, I’ve learned lots reading through your answers in the discussions!

    • Adam Retzer February 25, 2017, 6:15 pm

      Mice, and other rodents, carry fleas that are specific to them. Their fleas don’t parasitize larger animals. Likewise, flea species that parasitize dogs and cats won’t be found on rodents. So, if the fleas are biting you, then it’s unlikely that the mice are the source of the flea problem. I’d guess that the previous tenant’s dog was the primary host, and that you’re dealing with cat fleas (C. felis) or dog fleas (C. canis). Of course, I can’t be certain.

      While I am not all that familiar with other species of fleas besides dog and cat fleas, I’d assume that the time to bring an infestation under control would be similar.

  • Angel perales March 5, 2017, 5:19 pm

    I have been three bites from dog can they live in the body and still suck blood I need help is there a way to kill them

  • Mr . William carl uhl jr. March 27, 2017, 8:05 pm

    My friend lived with cats that had a seviory flea numders the fleas bite her freely .10 years latter she delvupped a investation all her body became vanerable . No the flea lay egges in her dermouis. When tbe flea gains size it emerages. We thried baking soada green apple vinger . With a lettel releafe vut not a souiltion. What do we do. Fleases william.

    • Adam Retzer March 29, 2017, 9:12 pm

      This doesn’t sounds like fleas. Fleas don’t lay eggs in animals’ skin. I’d recommend seeing a veterinary professional.

  • HP March 28, 2017, 8:18 pm

    As someone who has not had pets and loved for 4 years with flea issues, I have to challenge some of this information. I wish I could speak with some of these scientists because clearly some of this data is wrong. Also, you can get fleas in your mattress without a pet and they will stay embedded and bite you while you sleep on exposed areas of your body. The bites will be quite bad because they were undisturbed while you slept. You’ll have a gnarly hole in the middle of each bite. And I am 100% certain it’s not bedbugs. I can’t speak to how many eggs they can make from human blood, but I can tell you it’s possible even if they don’t just feed on you at night. I dumped the mattress, got a thick plastic covered mattress, and they still persist on primarily my blood. I have just ditched all my area rugs. I don’t have so many that I would call it an infestation… per se… as in you won’t get attacked by adult fleas walking into my place. I have vacuumed quite a bit and every time I think their gone they come back. I’ve used several professionals. And now it’s time to try a natural method… diatomaceous earth. Apparently it kills all stages. You just have to cover every square inch of your place, leave it for a day, vacuum as well as you can, repeat for 2 weeks. I’m going to do it for 6 months though. I’m starting to lose my mind over this, so I’m desperate.

    If you’re a scientist and would like a specimen of this flea that can survive off of humans, which originally came from Mexico, please let me know. Maybe you can help me solve this problem once and for all.

  • Kate April 23, 2017, 5:56 am

    My dog has fleas. I’ve been receiving bites on my legs and arms but i seem to be getting bit over night. What should i do?

    • Adam Retzer April 23, 2017, 6:19 pm

      Kate, see our article on How to Get Rid of Fleas. I’ve tried to provide a comprehensive guide there. If you have further questions or need more clarity, don’t hesitate to ask.

  • Jack June 15, 2017, 6:43 pm

    Can a flea bomb make me or my dogs sick. And will it get rid of all the fleas.

    • Adam Retzer June 19, 2017, 2:55 pm

      Flea bombs could potentially have adverse effects, since they release pesticides into the air. However, if you closely follow the instructions, the bombs should be safe to use as labeled.

      You may want to consider using a premise spray inside of a bomb/fogger. The spray can be directed towards flea habitats, making them more effective than foggers. This also makes sprays safer than bombs, because the bombs fill the air with an insecticide mist that gets dispersed everywhere (including areas like counter-tops). Using a spray will keep the application more concentrated. View our page on the best flea sprays.

      Flea sprays or foggers won’t kill all the fleas. Adult fleas make up 1-5% of the infestation and live on their host. They won’t be affected (unless they haven’t acquired a host yet). If the pet is left untreated, these adults will continue to lay eggs. Eggs, larvae, and pupae make up 95-99% of the infestation and live in the environment. The most important ingredient in sprays and foggers is the insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen or methoprene. The IGR mimics natural insect hormones, and will prevent any exposed eggs and larvae from reaching adulthood. However, a portion that are already in the environment won’t be affected, because they’re protected from insecticides at the base of carpets. These fleas will only die once they emerge as adults. Vacuuming regularly can help force cocoon emergence. So, the 3 main control strategies are treating the environment with an IGR, treating the pet, and vacuuming regularly.

  • Sarah July 27, 2017, 9:35 am

    I got a kitten 2 days ago, it turns out he is infested with fleas, I got rid of almost all the fleas on him, is there a chance that there are already some on my carpet?

    • Adam Retzer July 30, 2017, 7:48 pm

      Yes, there is a high likelihood that some eggs fell into your carpets. However, upon hatching, the larvae need flea dirt (feces) for food. If you caught the fleas right away, perhaps there wasn’t enough time for eggs and feces to fall in the same locations.

  • kat July 29, 2017, 2:00 am

    I travel back in forth between two houses and one house is infested with fleas, while I was there I got very bit up and was constantly finding fleas in my bed or crawling on me. Is it possible for fleas to survive on me and in my bag for a 40 min car ride to then go into a bedroom where my pets in this house don’t spend time? And if they can survive can they travel onto my pets in this house?

    • Adam Retzer July 30, 2017, 7:58 pm

      It’s possible for fleas to hitchhike on your clothes to infest the new home. However, this isn’t the common way that fleas spread. Usually an infested host enters the area and drops flea eggs there.

      If pets don’t spend much time in a room, then it won’t be a room where fleas are typically found.

  • Sue August 6, 2017, 5:22 am

    Can one flea live dormant for months on its own? I’m hoping that I have caught the single flea but just want to have a better idea if it’s more likely to be more than one

    • Adam Retzer August 13, 2017, 4:50 pm

      The only stage that can go quiescent (dormant-like) is the cocooned adult. After pupating, adult fleas can enter into a sleep-like state for up to 5 months. Most don’t do this, but some do, and it can cause control issues and re-infestations. Heat and pressure cause the pre-emerged adults to wake up and emerge within seconds. Usually this is caused by a host resting on the cocoons. However, vacuuming can also simulate the cues.

  • Chelsea August 9, 2017, 3:41 am

    Hi, I have 2 kittens (20 weeks old) they are indoor cats. My one kitten did manage to escape for around 1 hour into the garden before we managed to find him and get him back inside. We had noticed white specs of salt on our black bed sheet, it was only when I googled it I realised it was flea eggs. Up until then I hadn’t noticed any flea’s, now they are all I see.
    My body is like a dot to dot, I’ve been bitten at least 20 times. On my arms, belly and ankles. I looked on the mattress as that was where I found the eggs and found little worm like larve things… I vacuumed the mattress top and bottom and I haven’t seen any on there since.
    I have treated the kittens twice, once with bob Martin spot on, but was advised to treat them 48 hours later with Frontline. So I did, this was around 12 days ago…
    I keep still seeing flea’s!! I vacuume the house regularly, and I check the kittens daily. Today I seen FOUR!
    I understand it takes a while for these all to die, I have sprayed the flat with flea spray, and used a spray on the kittens too.
    I’m just wondering should I go to the next level and get an exterminator in, or should I wait a few more weeks and see if it starts to die down?
    As I was typing this a flea landed on my foot. I cannot stand it any longer, I constantly feel on egde!!
    Please help me 🙁

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 10:29 am

      Using a spot treatment for pets, like Frontline, along with vacuuming can end the infestation without any further treatments. If you were to higher an exterminator, the most useful thing they would do is apply an insect growth regulator to the carpets. IGR mimic natural insect hormones and prevents eggs and larvae from reaching adulthood for 7 months. However, you can easily do this yourself and spare yourself the exterminator costs. For example, Martin’s IGR can be bought on Amazon. Look for the ingredients pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor).

      It usually takes a few weeks for the infestation to die down. And it takes around 8 weeks for it to be completely eliminated.

  • Joy August 9, 2017, 8:35 pm

    The comments here are very helpful regarding cat fleas. My husband and I are renting a home where the previous tenant had a few dogs. We don’t have any pets but it seems that we have a flea infestation. This is particularly frustrating because we have a newborn child. We know it’s cat fleas, as we have captured a few and looked at them very closely. When we first moved in, before we moved our large furniture in,we sprinkled borax over all the floors, carpet, tile and hardwood. We let it sit a couple of days, then vacuumed and swept up, then repeated. The house only has carpet in the living and dining room, the rest of the house has hardwood floors or tile. Well the borax seemed to work because the issue subsided after a few weeks. Well it’s four months later and the fleas have returned. The fleas only seem to be feeding on me. My husband and my newborn have no bites. I have bites on my back, my ankles and feet. Just recently I saw a flea in my bed! As I said before, we have hardwood floors mostly throughout our home, except our living room and dining which is on the other side of the house. Vacuuming doesn’t seem to do anything on the hardwood floors. Does anyone have any suggestions on getting rid of fleas in a home with majority hardwood floors, and no pets? (We have a neighbor with a few cats, and we have a crawl space and attic.) Help!! We are considering moving but then I read that the fleas may travel with us when we move!!?

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 10:46 am

      Joy, I’m sorry to hear about your flea troubles. Your case sounds odd, considering that you don’t have pets and the fleas have persisted this long. It’s especially strange that you are getting bites on your back and have found fleas in your bed. They shouldn’t be able to reach bedding unless an infested pet sleep there.

      In your case, I’d suggest hiring an exterminator, because I can’t tell exactly what is going on without being there.

      As far as things you can do, continue vacuuming and focus on cracks in the wood flooring and around the baseboards (anywhere debris can collect). Also, wash the bedding at least weekly. Fleas can’t survive the washing machine. You may also want to consider applying an insect growth regulator (IGR) to the floors, such as Martin’s IGR. IGR will prevent and new fleas from being able to develop.

  • Ramiro August 12, 2017, 12:32 am

    Hello, it’s been almost a week now that we started having fleas. Before we didn’t have any, my family and I don’t have any pets. But my neighbor has a dog. And now they’re popping up on my home. My mom and I are the only ones that have bite marks but the rest of family does not. I sleep in a bunk bed. I just bought poison from home Depot. But I can’t sleep knowing that in the morning I’ll have more. Is there anything I can do prevent it from jumping on my bed and feeding on me.

    • Adam Retzer September 29, 2017, 12:00 pm

      Fleas can only jump to around the height of a human ankle. So they shouldn’t be able to get into beds in most cases. One thing you can do is to ensure the sheets aren’t hanging down to the ground, which may give them a route into the bed. Are you certain they are fleas and not bed bugs?

  • Davina Kelly August 17, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Please help i have had an itch all over my body and also find what looks like flea poop and white things as well on my body and also have bites this has been going on for nearly 6 months i have been on the verge of suicide and have spent hundreds of pounds trying to get rid of this problem

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 11:41 am

      Davina, sorry to hear about your problem. It sounds strange to me, and doesn’t sound like fleas from your description. Fleas don’t lay eggs on people and flea dirt shouldn’t accumulate on people. I’d recommend finding a professional near you to address your problem, so they can take a look in person.

  • Tayllor August 26, 2017, 6:52 pm

    So my daughter had two dogs living in my house for about 6 months. She moved out a month ago and I realized my house was invested with fleas. I’ve treated my house with flea bombs 5 times already and I’m still invested. There are no other animals living in my house and I can’t seem to get rid of the fleas and calling orkin or any other exterminator is my last result do to how expensive it is. Please let me know any others ways of getting rid of fleas. Thank you

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 2:49 pm

      Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas. It contains comprehensive control information. You can skip the pet section, obviously, but the rest should cover your question. If you have further questions after reading it, please let me know.

  • E August 28, 2017, 9:11 pm

    I really think there could be fleas in my hair… what do I do now?

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 3:10 pm

      Fleas don’t usually live in people’s hair. They may get on a person’s head if the bed is infested (from allowing pets there). However, fleas don’t live on people (even human fleas). They feed and then leave. If you feel like something is infesting your hair, it likely isn’t fleas. I’m not sure what it could be. Consider going to a doctor to get the problem checked out. Or, alternatively, try to get a good picture of the pest and maybe someone online can identify it.

  • Vic September 6, 2017, 6:54 pm

    I had a cat that was indoor / outdoor and recently passed away. He had fleas when he died about a month ago. I realized this and treated my house with OTC fogger about a week ago. Did the recommended vacuuming as well as laundered everything. I still am finding a few fleas each day. Is this normal? Should I look into professional exterminator? Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even notice them but am now hypersensitive and constantly looking for them. I’ve noticed no bites on me or anyone else. I have no other pets at this time. Help!

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 6:09 pm

      Vic, the fleas should go away on their own. It will just take a bit of patience. Usually it takes around 8 weeks before they are completely gone after treatment or pet removal. Eggs, larvae, and pupae make up 95-99% of the infestation and they live in the environment (carpeting usually). They all need to mature, emerge, and die before the infestation ends. Vacuuming is the best thing you can do to speed up the process.

  • Laura Lopez September 8, 2017, 9:07 pm

    Can fleas or ticks bite and leave you feeling that they are crawling on you or inside you and give you a heat like feeling or is that something else and should be discussed by a doctor????

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 6:12 pm

      Not sure about ticks, but fleas should not leave you feeling like that at all. A flea bite is similar to a mosquito bite for most people, with some individuals being more sensitive than others. It seems like it wouldn’t be a bad idea to discuss what you are experiencing with your doctor.

  • Torsaray landberg September 10, 2017, 11:32 am

    How long can a flea live in in just Human Habitat without any water or animals around? And do thay live in Corners with animal fur? What are good ways to disinfect a bedroom with out moving everything around?

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 6:23 pm

      If there are not pets or other hosts around, then most of the fleas should die within 8 weeks. The life cycle, from egg to adult, takes 17-26 days in home environments. However, some of the cocooned adults can enter into a quiescent (dormant-like) state for up to 5 months. So, it’s possible for the infestation to be re-triggered up to this point.

      Yes, the fleas develop in areas where animals frequent and debris collects. This is because flea eggs are laid on the animal, but they aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours. So the eggs accumulate in animal resting spots.

      Vacuuming is the one of the best chemical-free ways to speed up the eradication process. Steam cleaning is also effective, but wet cleaning will reduce the efficacy of any chemical treatments. And laundering area rugs and pet beds will kill any fleas on them.

      As far as chemical treatments, an insect growth regulator (IGR) is the best way to prevent any eggs and larvae from reaching adulthood. It’s particularly useful because IGRs lasts for 7 months indoors to prevent re-infestation. Premise sprays, such as Precor 2000, contain an IGR and an adulticide to kill any emerged adults that may be in the area. So, as far as chemical control, a premise spray is probably your best bet for eradicating fleas in a room. However, if you don’t want to use too many chemicals, IGR also comes in a concentrate (e.g. Martin’s IGR). IGR is considered safer than traditional insecticides because it works by mimicking insect hormones.

  • Shannon September 28, 2017, 4:10 am

    Hi there,

    I have recently moved house, and in the previous house had a cat (although this animal died nearly three years ago) who did from time to time pick up fleas, which we always attempted to control. The landlord has got in touch to say he has found fleas in previous house, which I assumed to be from dormant pupae in very sheltered spots awoken by ripping up carpets (house is being fully renovated), despite the length of time since the host was present. I don’t recall having a problem after the cat passed away, but then I am a wildlife enthusiast, and as such get many insect bites, and so possibly may not have noticed!

    My worry is that fleas may have become transported from there to new property in the form of larvae or eggs (and I’ve picked up a couple of what *may* be flea bites); I’ve replaced duvet since learning they were still present in old house, but without a host, there’s no chance of escalation, is there?

    Sodding things; haven’t worried about them for years, before the landlord got in touch!

    • Adam Retzer September 29, 2017, 1:35 pm

      The pre-emerged adults can only survive for up to 5 months. It’s unlikely they are from the cat that died 3 years ago.

      Perhaps the fleas are human fleas (P. irritans), which is a more rare species than cat fleas (C. felis) or dog fleas (C. canis). Human fleas may be able to survive without an animal host. Unfortunately, my knowledge is limited on this species because it is uncommon. Regardless, control measures are the same for all species.

      If there were fleas in your old residence, it’s possible they were transported to your new home. Especially if there were eggs in things like area rugs.

      Your first step should be to positively identify fleas. Since you don’t have pets, I think the best way will be to use a flea trap. You can distinguish between species by closely looking at the fleas’ heads. Take a look at this image. C. felis (img D) and C. canis (img E) have combs (bristles) on their heads, and their heads are elongated. P. irritans (img H) has a short head and no combs.

      If you find fleas in your new home, regardless of species, you can visit our page on How to get rid of fleas for comprehensive control information.

      • Shannon October 16, 2017, 8:57 am

        Many thanks for the response, Adam; appreciated.

        Will follow that advice and get a trap; sincerely hope it’s not P. irritans!

  • TJ September 29, 2017, 10:58 pm

    I had to do some pest control on raccoons and shortly after noticed getting bit. The bites are usually smaller in side and solid light red color. They are not in close groups. I sprayed precor igr and Suspend SC around the inside walls and vacuumed a while off and on. Fast forward 2 months i am getting bite more and getting burnt out and lazy on vacuuming once a week or more…..i sprayed Knockout E.S. (extra strength my butt) on all fabric but still have fleas. Both chemicals claim that the igr last up to 7 months but i still think they are breeding. The bites are over my body but not in close proximity to one another like most flea bite picks i see. I tried water and light traps and killed a few other insects but no fleas…..are these even fleas???? Last year i had tge exact same problem but used my precor igr and suspend and killed them totally by now. (i was better at vacuuming and stored my clothes in plastic bags all of them which now i don’t. Is my lack of will power getting me bit? What could bite me? I checked the bed carefully but no bed bugs so im thinking fleas like last year. No pets but once in a while a mouse in the basement (he dies much quicker when poisoned lol). Even though i don’t vacuum more than once a month can i still expect to kill them? The IGR should still make the adults sterile right so they don’t reproduce…..maybe the increase in bites are from eggs hatching and not more breeding? I live in the midwest and don’t have much money but thinking of calling an exterminator. This is getting serious where i think i now have them in my vehicle which I treated and at my WORK… the chemical week or crap or is my perseverance the problem. I live in a 2 story house with carpet and wood floors. BTW out of the 2 other people who live in the house with me it is just ME getting bit! Usually at night but not always. I lost the battle but need to win the war…..any help is greatly appreciated. THANKS! P.S. when i do get rid of them is there a dewormer i shoukd take to be safe? i have been bit maybe 50ish+ times so far and feel fine but don’t know if i accidentally ingested one.

    • Adam Retzer October 2, 2017, 10:37 am

      If you haven’t seen any fleas, or found any fleas in your flea traps, then it sounds like it may be something else causing the skin reactions. So, before you implement any further control measures, it would be prudent to determine what pest is actually biting you. Flea control measures may not work effectively on other pests. Try to find the pest as it is biting you to get a specimen, or perhaps place one or two more flea traps.

      As far as a dewormer, I’d recommend consulting a physician for this.

  • Spencer September 30, 2017, 11:55 pm

    In my trailer, a feral cat had gotten in somehow, A few weeks later BOOM fleas everywhere. I have no pets, no carpets, and have been treating every inch of the trailer/yard for 5 weeks. I’m seeing less and less evidence of them being here and luckily no one was living here during the infestation. Now, I’ve seen less than 10 and I’ve been in the trailer today for more than 6 hours… am I a lucky one? Or are there more waiting to emerge?

    • Adam Retzer October 2, 2017, 10:40 am

      It sounds likes it was probably a mild infestation. If the cat was only in there a short time, then the number of flea eggs that fell inside the trailer was probably low. There may be a few more fleas waiting to emerge, but, from your description, I think you should be in the clear soon.

  • Rachael October 4, 2017, 8:28 pm

    Hi!! I need to know if I return the stray kitten that I adopted from a woman who rescues animals if our flea problem will resolve itself eventually around 8 weeks like you’ve said. We recently moved into a house and been here for 1 month. We had suspicions there might be a flea problem in the house due to the previous owners (they had a dog) but never saw anything except for bites. It started to grow less and we thought maybe it had just been mosquitoes. Then last week we got the kitten, the lady said she had fleas but gave her flea drops and they should all die. We brought her in our home and days later, the kitty still has fleas on top of other health concerns I took her to the vet. The vet gave her more drops for the fleas and the worms that the fleas gave her….days later the kitty still has fleas!!! Vet told me the problem isn’t the kitty but it’s environment, our house. So it seems our initial suspicions about fleas was correct, they were already in the house.
    I want to know if we return the kitten and remove from the house, making this a pet free home, will all the fleas die eventually after 8 weeks since they can’t survive and reproduce on our human blood? This is a very difficult situation and will break my daughters heart but I simply do not have the capability to handle this situation being pregnant and alone. Please please help me to understand I am desperate.

    • Adam Retzer October 5, 2017, 11:40 am


      It takes around 8 weeks for infestations to end, either after the pet is treated or after the pet is removed. So, it will take just as long for the fleas to go away if you keep the treated kitten.

      95-99% of infestations are eggs, larvae, and pupae in the environment. As they mature and emerge, they will jump onto the cat and then die. However, they won’t die instantly, it can take a few hours. They won’t survive long enough to reproduce though. So even after the cat is treated, you will likely find fleas on her until the infestation completely ends.

      All of the immature stages in the environment need to mature, emerge, and die before the infestation ends. As mentioned, this usually take around 8 weeks. It’s why flea drops come in packs of at least 3 monthly doses.

      Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas for comprehensive control information. It should address any other questions you have in detail.

  • Ron Johnson October 6, 2017, 8:54 pm

    Is the stinging on the human body are fleas, if so is there anything human can used.

    • Adam Retzer October 16, 2017, 2:32 pm

      Fleas will bite humans if their primary host isn’t around. However, they leave immediately after feeding. Most bites occurs around the ankles, as this is the height fleas can jump to. Insect repellents (such as DEET) are effective against fleas. To treat the bites, hydrocortisone lotion or anti-itch creams can be applied.

  • Victor Williams October 8, 2017, 6:42 pm

    I’m a maintenance man that works at a hotel I just recently walked into a room full of fleas. How i know is my work unform is cream .And could see them.

  • Steven Gerena October 9, 2017, 11:12 pm

    I have a low carpet in my house all over n plenty couches. I think my house got fleas everywhere.. Need help to make sure there dead everywhere. My cat haz a flea colar but they still b eating her alive..

  • Nikita October 10, 2017, 7:46 am

    Ive already flea bombed my home and we have no pets. Why do we still have fleas? Please let me know.

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2017, 10:13 am

      If you don’t have pets, then you may be dealing with human fleas (P. irritans), a more rare species than cat fleas (C. felis) or dog fleas (C. canis). Human fleas can survive and reproduce on human blood. Regardless, treatment is similar for all species. Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas for a comprehensive guide. One important thing to keep in mind is that it’ll take around 8 weeks to rid a home of fleas, even after all proper treatment is in place.

  • Donna October 14, 2017, 4:02 pm

    I have no pets. Somehow a flea got into my home and has been breeding on me. I take a shower and before I am dressed I have seen eggs on my skin when applying lotion. They have also done this in hair and I saw some slimy whitish pink or white with red thing on my skin also while getting dressed. Not sure if its a human flea, dog or cat but I am the host. They are not jumping out if carpets. I’ve bombed twice. I spray. I use dog flea shampoo and I can’t get rid if them. I’m ready to shave my head. Its been 3 or 4 weeks of he’ll so far?

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2017, 10:51 am

      Donna, sorry to hear about your problem. This sounds like a strange situation, and not characteristic of fleas. I’d recommend consulting a physician, as this is a problem that needs to be assessed in person. Bring the eggs you are finding with you.

  • Mike October 24, 2017, 7:44 pm

    Hi there,

    Ive been reading through your questions and answers here and you give some really good advice!! As a pest control specialist I woupd like to add one thing… Some of the people asking questions here say they have flea problems but dont have any pets. To those people I would suggest looking to see if there may be mice in the house or other animals aroumd the home that they may not be aware of. Ive had homes where I couldnt seem to take care of flea issues until I got rid of mice in some homes and a woodchuck living under the porch of another that the customers were not aware of.

    • Adam Retzer October 25, 2017, 1:08 pm

      Thank you Mike, that is good advice. I will include that in my future responses.

  • Al November 1, 2017, 12:56 am

    We moved into a new house seven months ago, and have had ongoing problems with fleas from the back yard and an old hutch where rabbits were kept. We don’t have any pets ourselves, although we have had issues with rats from time to time. The fleas bite me quite extensively – I’m mildly allergic to flea bites, so I certainly know when I’ve been bitten! At the moment I get a crop of bites every 2-3 days. People assured us that the fleas would probably die out – but no luck yet. I have tried not to bring the fleas into the house, but somehow they do manage it.

    My husband removed the old hutch a few weeks ago, and obviously woke up the fleas from their pupae. We have had a resurgence in fleas, when we’d actually began to think that they might be dying out.

    Is this an infestation that will die out on its own, or do we have to get fumigation experts in? Can these fleas breed from biting me? As the problem is outside, the treatment is more expensive than just treating indoors – and we haven’t been able to afford it yet.

    • Adam Retzer November 1, 2017, 12:30 pm

      In your situation, you probably aren’t dealing with cat fleas (C. felis) or dog fleas (C. canis). It’s likely some kind of species that infests rabbits or rats. The fleas shouldn’t be able to survive and reproduce on human blood. However, if it’s a species that prefers rats as a primary host, and the rats aren’t removed, then the problem won’t go away on its own. Also, if the problem was going to resolve on its own, it would have done so already (by around 5 months).

      Depending on where you live, you may not need to do anything. The cold months are coming soon and fleas can’t survive outdoors in subfreezing temperatures. If you want to employ some control measures, I’d suggest hiring pest control experts, because they may need to resolve the rat problem to also resolve the flea problem. They can identify the flea species, how it’s surviving and reproducing, and what the host is. If you want to try doing your own outdoor flea control, visit our page on Flea sprays for yards, as it contains a comprehensive guide (though it mainly focuses on cat fleas and dog fleas).

      I’m sorry I can’t provide more insight. This website and my knowledge is focused around flea species that infest dogs and cats.

  • Val November 7, 2017, 1:56 am

    I get one flea bite every few days does that mean is only 1 bug

    • Adam Retzer November 13, 2017, 12:09 pm

      I don’t think it’s reasonable to come to the conclusion that it’s only one bug. Adults only make up 1-5% of flea infestations. The rest are eggs, larvae, and pupae. And the adult that bit you had to come from somewhere (likely an egg, laid by a female which had to have mated with a male). However, it sounds like a mild infestation.

  • Angie November 15, 2017, 1:37 am

    I me and my boyfriend both have been attacked by flea it’s gotten into our bodies and we’re breaking out in sores we’re almost like got worms and larvae in fleas and it’s sore and I don’t know what to do

    • Adam Retzer November 15, 2017, 12:34 pm

      Angie, go see a physician immediately. These aren’t symptoms associated with fleas. Whatever you are dealing with, it sounds serious.

  • Elizabeth November 20, 2017, 9:52 pm

    I’m getting horrible flea bites every day. I’ve caught two fleas so far that I was able to kill. We have neighbor cats that come in our backyard and rodents have also been caught under our house in the past. Is it more likely one than the other? How did the fleas manage to get in the house?

    • Adam Retzer November 28, 2017, 10:07 am

      It’s hard to say without seeing the issue in person, so it may be beneficial to hire an exterminator to identify the source, host, and flea species.

      Fleas species that infest of dogs and cats (C. felis and C. canis) are most common in domestic settings. So the neighbor’s cats may very well be the source, and then the adults hitchhike on you. It’s also possible that the cats had human fleas (P. irritans). Human fleas are relatively rare, but it is a species that can survive and reproduce on human blood.

      I’ve also heard from exterminators that homes with mice or rats can have flea problems that won’t go away until the rodents are exterminated. So these may be the fleas you are seeing. However, rodent fleas won’t infest dogs or cats.

  • Rhianyn November 23, 2017, 9:58 pm

    Hi Adam! First off this is the first site that has calmed my anxiety about my flea problem. Everywhere else had extreme horror stories or trying to sell me something which was not helpful! I was fostering a friendly-ferral for my sister since her cat was not happy to have a new roommate. I had her just shy of 2 weeks when i noticed she had fleas (she had been treated for them once already). Due to my anxiety we rehomed her. She only got into my bedroom and living room once each and was otherwise confined to kitchen/dining and the bathroom. My question is how crazy should I go with the cleaning? I’m so anxious and upset I could probably clean extremely well and still feel like it wasn’t enough. I found to tiny white specks on my backpack and thought omg flea eggs! But is it more probable to just be dirt/lint? I sprayed baseboards where she was kept and her favorite hiding spots thoroughly, and washed my clothes on hot. Is there anything more to be done?
    I’m sorry if these are redundant questions already posted. Because of my anxiety I thought it’s be more helpful to seek a direct response. Thanks!

    • Rhianyn November 23, 2017, 10:16 pm

      I should also add I haven’t seen a flea in the apartment for the two days since the cat was rehomed and the only carpet I have is a bathmet which I washed and dried.

    • Adam Retzer November 28, 2017, 10:23 am

      It sounds like you are taking all the correct steps. The most helpful thing you can do is to continue vacuuming regularly (details within article). Also, ensure you used a spray with an insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). The IGR will remain active for 7 months indoors, so you shouldn’t need to spray more than once. The white specks are likely some kind of lint or debris. Eggs would only be on items like that if the cat slept there and eggs fell from the cat.

  • Annie November 25, 2017, 8:45 am

    We are having repeated issues with fleas in our home. We have treated the house (and even timed with replacing carpets) and washed all the beddings and treated out cat (numerous times) and despite that he still has fleas. I’ve since got a comb, flea traps, spot ons etc. Fleas don’t seem to be in my kids room now and she doesn’t seem to be bitten anymore but the cat still has fleas. Am I right in thinking if I confine him out of the house (only access to the kitchen and outdoors) while continuing to treat him, will keep the fleas out of my house even if they’ve made it back in? Am at my wits end now 😐

    • Adam Retzer November 29, 2017, 4:00 pm

      It’s strange that you’re still dealing with fleas after the cat and home have been treated. How long has it been? What are you treating the cat with? And did you allow a lapse in the monthly treatments? It usually takes at least 8 weeks for infestations to resolve, which is why flea drops often come in 3-4 month packages.

      Did you the spray you used in your home contain an insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen or methoprene? The IGR is the most important ingredient. It will remain active for 7 months indoors. New eggs and larvae won’t be able to reach adulthood. However, those already developing in the environment may be able to avoid the sprays, because they live deep at the base of carpets where penetration is difficult.

      Traps aren’t effective for controlling fleas. But they are very useful for identifying fleas, assessing populations, and determining when a infestation is over. For example, you could place them in your home to see which areas are truly flea-free (e.g. your kid’s room).

      Flea combs are most useful for identifying fleas. They can also help remove adults from pets, but it’s important to keep in mind that only 1-5% of the infestation are adults.

      Confining the cat may work, but it will take a while before you notice any results. This is because fleas lay their eggs on their host. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours. They get dispersed wherever the animal roams, but get concentrated in favored resting spots. So, there are likely immature fleas developing all over your home, especially areas frequented by your cat. It takes 17-26 days for eggs to reach adulthood. But cocooned adults can enter into a quiescent (dormant-like) state for up to 5 months. They won’t wake up and emerge until they detect a host (pressure and heat), though vacuuming can simulate these cues.

  • HOLLY November 25, 2017, 6:38 pm

    We had a cat staying with us for awhile and she had fleas really bad and she’s gone now for about 3 weeks but the fleas are still really bad. Mostly on my 4 year old he has so many bites. We’ve been cleaning and vacuuming a lot please tell me there’s hope that this will go away soon. It seems like they are using my son as their main food source. We did have an exterminator come a couple weeks ago but he all he said was without a pet they will eventually die but it seems like they are worse.

    • Adam Retzer November 29, 2017, 4:15 pm

      Though frustrating, what you’re experiencing is normal. And the fleas should go away in time, as the exterminator said.

      Strangely, infestations in homes can sometimes seem worse after the pet is removed or treated. This is because while the cat was with you, fleas were actively reproducing and laying many eggs. The boom in population won’t be noticed until those eggs mature into adults and begin emerging from carpets (eggs reach adulthood in 17-26 days). Luckily, the immature fleas currently in the environment should be the last generation. It will just take a bit of patience. Most infestations resolve in around 8 weeks.

      Unfortunately, spraying the home won’t kill all of the immature stages already in the environment. This is because larvae move away from light, living deep within carpets and other refuges where sprays can’t penetrate. Likewise, many also avoid vacuum removal. The infestation won’t be completely over until all of these stages mature, emerge, and die. Vacuuming is still one of the best things you can do to speed up the process. See our page on How often to vacuum.

      To help prevent bites you may want to limit your son’s access to the floor until the infestation ends. It may also be a good idea to tuck his pant legs into his socks. Insect repellents also work on fleas.

  • Becky December 3, 2017, 8:59 pm

    We had just had out roommates dog go to a new home 2 days ago. He had fleas bad. I notice my ankles are covered in bites and itch so bad I scratch until they bleed. What steps do I need to take to get rid of the fleas? Are they infesting our furniture?

    • Adam Retzer December 6, 2017, 11:23 am

      Eggs are laid on the animal, but fall off within a few hours. Eggs are likely developing anywhere the dog had access, especially in favored resting places. Most fleas develop within in carpets. Some may be on furniture if the dog was on the furniture and eggs fells there.

      Even with the dog now gone, all of the immature stages (making up 95-99% of infestations) will be maturing and emerging. It often takes around 8 weeks before they are gone. View our page on How to get rid of fleas for a comprehensive guide. The most helpful thing you can do is vacuum more regularly.

  • Amber December 4, 2017, 11:50 pm

    So my son stays with his grandparent 90% of the time where I know they have a huge flea problem. When he comes to stay for a while with me I start getting but a lot. And I continue to get bit even after he leaves. How long does should that last.? He hasn’t been here in a month..

    • Adam Retzer December 6, 2017, 11:30 am

      Have you seen the fleas themselves in your home? It’s rare that fleas will transport on humans, but possible. They shouldn’t be able to survive more a than week or two without an animal host. However, if they are human fleas (P. irritans), then they can survive and reproduce on human blood. This is not a common species though. See the answer to this question for how to identify flea species.

  • Lisa Byrne December 19, 2017, 3:01 pm

    If fleas feed off you whilst you are sleeping for 8 hours isn’t this sufficient to keep them alive and breed.

    • Adam Retzer December 19, 2017, 3:35 pm

      When fleas feed on people, they take their blood meal and then leave immediately afterwards. So, in almost all cases, they wouldn’t be on a person for that long outside of an artificial setting.

      Also, fleas shouldn’t be found on beds, as most beds are too far from the ground for fleas to jump. The exception would be if an infested pet slept on the bed, and eggs fell there. A stray flea here or there may also hitchhike on the person climbing into bed. Regardless, laundering the sheets will kill any potential fleas.

  • HE January 23, 2018, 4:58 am

    I recently moved from a flat infested with fleas (the resident cat never got a break) and only brought one luggage case of clothes to my new place. There are no pets in this house, and as the house is fairly new I’m positive there are no fleas present. BUT I’ve spotted a few dark dots in the bed and one red bite on my right arm.

    This is really embarrassing to have brought into someone else’s house. What should I do? How long will the fleas be able to live on humans? Do I need to flea bomb the house or is simply cleaning all textiles and vacuuming enough?

    • Adam Retzer January 30, 2018, 2:34 pm

      Without pets, there shouldn’t be a problem. Cat fleas (C. felis) and dog fleas (C. canis) make up nearly all domestic flea infestations. They can’t survive or reproduce on humans. The adults should starve within about a week. Vacuuming often would be a good idea for a while, in case you did bring them with you into your new home. But they should die out eventually without a cat or dog there.

      Finding dark red spots in the bed is more indicative of bed bugs rather than fleas. So you may want to look into this as well.

  • Jessica Coyle February 1, 2018, 3:03 am

    If I move out of a property with an infestation, wash all my bedding and treat my mattress with StayKill spray – will the fleas spread to my new property from the mattress? (it has carpets, and the cats were previously sleeping on this mattress before I moved in to my current property). The new property will not have any pets as they don’t belong to me.

    • Adam Retzer February 1, 2018, 2:23 pm

      You shouldn’t have much to worry about. The fleas shouldn’t be able to survive and reproduce in your new residence if pets aren’t there, even if they transferred on your items somehow. And fleas don’t infest mattresses. Eggs are laid on the host (cats), but they aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours. So there may be fleas on the mattress, but only on the surface like the on the sheets.

  • Dorothy February 11, 2018, 11:16 am

    I have been waging the war on fleas for 3 months. I’ve treated my dogs with flea meds, vacuumed daily, covered furniture and washed the covers daily, steam cleaned mattress and area rug, sprayed entire house 2x plus had professional exterminator out to spray. I am being bitten regularly and must have 100 bites at any given time. I have 2 dogs who rarely scratch and I can’t find any bite marks on them but see occasional flea dirt. I went on vacation for 8 days and has fleas still biting me. The dogs still had fleas when I brought them home from a friends and I gave them Comfortis right before I left. I am at my wits end and wonder how much longer this is going to continue

    • Adam Retzer February 21, 2018, 1:18 pm

      Dorothy, it sounds like you are taking all the correct steps (vacuuming, flea drops for dogs, and spraying IGR to the environment). 100 bites on you at any given time is extreme. Your situation sounds unusual, and it would probably need someone to take a look in person. For this reason, I’d recommend getting professional pest control to come out again, and to see your dog’s veterinarian for further advice.

  • Pixie February 20, 2018, 5:05 pm

    I am just about to move out of a rented room in a house which has a cat. About 4 months ago I discovered the cat had fleas, and was finding them in my bedroom as well as other rooms in the house. We seemed to have gotten rid of them, however tonight I found one on my hand while I was in my bedroom!
    I had previously been stroking the cat, so I am choosing to believe that the cat has fleas (again!) and the one I found was a rogue one which hopped onto me (and hopefully the only one). However, my question is, I am literally moving in a week. I will not be taking any furniture with me. Only bedclothes and normal clothing, as well as my possessions. How likely is it that I will take fleas with me to my new house? (Which does not have any pets)

    • Adam Retzer February 27, 2018, 2:22 pm

      Pixie, it is unlikely that you will have a problem in your new home. Even if you somehow brought some with you, they wouldn’t be able to survive long without an animal host there. Still, you can minimize the odds of bringing fleas with you by laundering or disposing of any items the cat may have regularly rested/groomed on (e.g. area rugs).

      • Lora July 17, 2018, 10:17 pm

        I been dealing with fleas for six years cause i moved into a home that was infested. I have never had any animals and i have moved three times and always take them with me. I have had exterminators,, bumbs, and sprays but cant get rid of them. They bites me all over my body, even my face and head. Now im saving so i can afford to walk away and leave everything

  • Samuel March 4, 2018, 1:48 pm

    I went to a friends house and her dog has fleas, a lot you can see them through her thin fur. So the dog loves me and I’m not sure but my head feels itchy. I haven’t seen them on me but, can they be on me? And will they go away?

    • Adam Retzer April 12, 2018, 12:19 pm

      Samuel, fleas don’t usually go to a person’s head unless it is near where fleas develop (e.g. the ground). When fleas jump on people, they bite readily upon finding exposed skin. They don’t do much wandering, especially higher up than the legs. Fleas they leave people after they bite. So you shouldn’t have an issue, even if fleas got on your head.

  • David March 5, 2018, 3:08 am

    How do fleas land after a jump

    • Adam Retzer April 12, 2018, 12:20 pm

      Flea exhibit a kind of tumbling action after they launch themselves into the air. As a result, they don’t have the most graceful landings. However, when they land on animal, they attach easily because they are covered with spines, bristles, and combs that will grip onto the animal’s fur.

  • Megan March 18, 2018, 5:09 am

    I was cuddling my friends cat when I noticed he had fleas, I helped her bath him and now I’m worried that when I return home my own cat may get them from me being so close. Is this possible?
    I have no bites on myself.
    My cat is not up to date and I would feel terrible if I brought them home to her

    • Adam Retzer April 12, 2018, 1:00 pm

      I think your cat should be okay. It’s possible for fleas to transfer that way, but not likely. Fleas don’t typically travel around on people. They may jump on people to feed if the primary host isn’t around, but they leave people immediately after feeding. However, there are rare circumstances where fleas may not be able to find a way off the person.

      I apologize for the late response, life has kept me preoccupied. I think time will the provided you an answer before me.

  • kimberly Tolgyes April 23, 2018, 10:15 pm

    My mom gave me her couch set she has cats gunie pigs and rabbits in her living room where the anamIles were I believe they all had some kiND of fleas I have powder my couch then vacuumed it off to kill the fleas left the couch set out for 2 days in the garage . My question is do I still have feals and should I get the couch professionally sprayed or will the reminding fleas if any just die

    • Adam Retzer April 24, 2018, 10:50 am

      Do you have pets in your home? If so, then the fleas will likely spread to your animals. If not, then the fleas should go away on their own in time. However, it may take a few months. All of the immature stages will need to mature, emerge as a adults, and die. But they should be the last generation.

      Using powder/spray and vacuuming, or hiring professional pest control, can help speed up the eradication process. However, it’s unlikely that 100% of the fleas will die. Some patience will still be required.

  • Kira May 13, 2018, 5:36 pm

    Hi. I live in an apartment building with neighbors on both sides and above me. I recently have been getting bit by fleas. I do not own any pets but my neighbors above and on one side of me do. Can the fleas be coming from their apartments. I started treating my apartment but will it do any good if my neighbors have an infestation. Any advise will be helpful. Thanks.

    • Adam Retzer May 15, 2018, 11:24 am

      Fleas may be coming from their apartments. For example, if their pets are infested and hang out around your doors. Then they could possibly drop flea eggs there. It would be a good idea to talk to your neighbors to see if they are dealing with fleas.

      Another possibility is that you’re dealing with human fleas (P. irritans). This is a somewhat rare species, but they can survive on human blood. See my reply to this question for how to identify species.

      Regardless of species, your control regimen should include regular vacuuming and spraying an insect growth regulator, either pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor).

  • Ty Wright-Kenney May 14, 2018, 6:47 am

    There are insects living underneath the upper layer of the skin on my scalp.
    This insect as identified as fleas. No one has any information how to remove them.
    I have tried everything I’ve found on the internet, and suggested by pest control experts’
    primary care doctor (Permethrin cream) all suggestion has killed some, but not all.
    they have been living underneath my scalp since November 2017. If it is not a flea, what could it be. my doctor has treated it for lice, scabes, but not fleas that live on human.Do you have any
    suggestions to help me? Please help me I’m despearte.

    • Adam Retzer May 14, 2018, 10:53 am

      Ty, sorry to hear about your problem. Fleas (of any stage) don’t live under skin, neither animals nor humans. What you are dealing with is unrelated to fleas. The best way to fix the problem is to identify what is causing it. A good way to do this would be to catch a specimen, and show it to a pest specialist or physician.

      Sorry I can’t help more, but your issue isn’t related to fleas.

  • MelGH May 16, 2018, 7:32 pm

    Need advice quickly!..I need to get my stuff out of a flea infested home. Background: recently moved out of my house to a new home. We took most of our things with us in one trip. Many items (couches, tables, beds) were purchased new for our current home, but many personal items (clothes, bedding, dishes) came with us. Fast forward, I returned to the old house about two weeks later to find fleas! Upon doing some research, I understand the problem and how it came about… we previously had a dog at the old house who passed away about a month before the move (she was being preventatively treated, and probably kept outbreaks at bay). Add to that the house was basically left empty for a few weeks, and bam… now we’re screwed! The house is being sold to a developer and will be demolished, so we’re not concerned about the next tenet. However, we still have things in the house. I realize that we’ve potentially brought fleas or their eggs into the new house (though we haven’t seen any), so we’ve started preventative measures here. We’re vacuuming every other day, treating the carpets, etc. It was two days ago that I discovered the fleas. That night I vacuumed (threw away the bag) and covered every floor in DE, baking soda, and salt… and left it since no one is there anyway. I plan on going over tomorrow and repeating this process.
    My problem… how do I get the rest of my things out of the old house without bringing the fleas? Is there a point/time frame that I’m safer? Many of the items were still need to get are non-washable! (books, pictures, paperwork, etc.). As some of these items have sentimental value, I can’t cut my losses. Some are too large or sensitive to attempt traditional methods…I can’t expose them to high heat, freezing, or chemicals. What are my options? Additionally, how do I go about working in and out of the old house (be it eradicating the pests or trying to get things out) without bringing them into my car or new home? I practically stripped naked outside, after treating the floors at the old house, the night they were discovered! I’m horrified away having to go back tomorrow, but I need to figure out a solution. BTW…I have a few weeks to finish clearing out the house before the developer takes possession, but the clock is ticking. Thank in advance, any help is appreciated!

    • Adam Retzer May 24, 2018, 10:11 am

      Luckily, fleas shouldn’t be on the items you’ve described (books, pictures, paperwork, etc.).

      Adult fleas live permanently on their host once it’s acquired. They mate on the host, and the females lay eggs on the host. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours, dropping fall anywhere the animal roams. Most eggs end up in favored resting spots of the pet, usually carpeting or pet bedding. Eggs wouldn’t be falling on books or paperwork, unless the dog was resting on these items. Even then, the larvae wouldn’t be found living on these kinds of surfaces.

      Upon hatching, flea larvae will actively avoid light. They borrow deep down into the substrate they are on (e.g. base of carpets). To survive, the larvae also require food in the form of adult flea feces (flea dirt). So flea dirt would have to fall and accumulate in the same locations as the eggs. Books, pictures, and paperwork wouldn’t be suitable habitats.

      Eggs, larvae, and pupae make up 95-99% of infestations, and are found living in the environment. The larvae don’t travel far after hatching, so these stages are often found close together. And, as mentioned, they typically wouldn’t be found on the items you’ve described. Upon hatching, adult fleas immediately seek a warm blooded host. They also wouldn’t have any interest in going to paperwork or books.

      If you are worried that fleas are on some of your items, then shaking, brushing, or vacuuming them can help eliminate them. As mentioned, eggs aren’t sticky. Larvae have spines, and can sometimes attach to fabrics, but they also aren’t very sticky. Cocoons can become attached to items with silk-like threads, however cocoons are formed away from light in protected micro-habitats (e.g. carpeting).

      Fleas hitchhiking on you shouldn’t be too much of a concern, but it is possible. When working in the home, it would be best to wear long pants, high socks, and closed-toe shoes. Tuck the pant legs into the socks. This will prevent newly emerging adults from finding exposed skin after jumping on to your legs. The white socks will make the dark fleas easily visible. And you can then shake or brush off your socks and trousers before going to your new home. Permethrin clothing repellent can also be used on your socks and trousers to prevent fleas from jumping on you.

  • Paige May 31, 2018, 9:25 pm

    My cat has fleas so could I have fleas
    As well
    Or are me and my family fine

    • Adam Retzer June 6, 2018, 10:57 am

      Fleas won’t infest people, but they may bite people incidentally when the primary host isn’t around. Fleas bite readily upon finding exposed skin. And after biting humans, they leave.

  • Laura Blair June 2, 2018, 4:38 am

    I am a chronically ill woman .I am home alot with my 2 cats who are indoor cats.We have got our Apt sprayed cats done. I have been fighting a infestation on my scalp of flea bites & eggs etc. Fleas seem to love me ! My cats are still fighting them aswell.What would say is the problem ?If you have any advice I would appreciate it !This has me in a very uncomfortable situation .Thanks L.Blair

    • Adam Retzer June 6, 2018, 11:40 am

      Fleas don’t typically bite people on their scalps. And they definitely don’t lay eggs in people’s scalps (or anywhere in their skin). Whatever is causing these symptoms on you sounds unrelated to fleas, even if your cats have fleas. Here’s our article on How to get rid of fleas. It may also be a good idea to hire a pest professional. For the scalp issue, I’d suggest seeing a physician immediately.

  • Karen June 13, 2018, 2:09 pm

    Hello, we have a household of 2 cats and 2 dogs that have been treated for fleas. I used to let the cats sleep in my bed during the day, but I don’t any more due to an infestation that is in my bedroom. I don’t see the fleas, but have spotted one on one of my blankets. I don’t get bitten on my legs or ankles, but instead I’m bitten on my back, tummy, hip area, upper arms. I suspect I’m being bit while I’m asleep in my bed. I’ve treated my room 3 times with bombs, vacuum it, remove bedding and wash them each time, but after a day or so, I’m getting bitten all over again. Your site is informative and has taught me a lot. I’m through bombing my room, but instead have decided to not sleep in my room for about 8 weeks and let the fleas die since they won’t have me around and I have been keeping my bedroom door closed all this time so I suspect that I just need to wait it out. By bed is a four poster and sits very high off the floor so I’m not sure how they’re getting on my bed over and over – especially since I’ve banned the cats and dogs from my room for over a week now. I’ve sprayed the wood and my mattresses. It isn’t bed bugs, btw. The bite pattern is flea and I’ve seen a flea or 2, but haven’t seen a lot of them.

    • Adam Retzer June 14, 2018, 12:39 pm

      Karen, sorry to hear about your flea issue. It sounds like you are dealing with it well. You may want to consider placing a flea trap in the room. Traps are useful for assessing populations, so you can tell when they are gone from the room.

  • Nonkululeko shabalala June 17, 2018, 5:58 am

    I fell I have fleas in my body everyday my body is itching how can I get help

    • Adam Retzer June 18, 2018, 11:35 am

      Whatever is causing this, it isn’t fleas. Fleas don’t live in the body people or animals. This sounds like a serious medical issue. It would be a good idea to to see a physician immediately.

  • leslyee June 17, 2018, 2:57 pm

    About a month ago I found 2 kittens, i brought them into my apartmen (only 1 room ) I took them to the shelter 1/2 weeks after there was no sign of fleas at that time now it’s been a week and fleas appeared out of nowhere! My husband and I are bitten all over the anckles we have put flea/ foggers but I’m worried that they could live on human blood what can I do ?

    • Adam Retzer June 18, 2018, 11:41 am

      You are probably dealing with cat fleas (C. felis), which can’t survive on human blood. Human fleas can survive and reproduce on human blood, but they are a somewhat rare species. Here is information on how to identify flea species.

      The reason you are starting to see fleas now is because eggs fell in your home. Young fleas develop unseen in the environment, usually deep within carpets. It takes around 17-26 for eggs to become adults, and begin emerging to look for a host.

      Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas for control information.

  • Jessica Hall June 17, 2018, 6:34 pm

    Good evening.

    My rooommate and I recently moved into an apartment. Upon first glance our intuition told us that a cat lived due to the smell of piss and liter. Soon after, my roommate starts to notice a ton of bite marks up and down her body. Her mom experienced it too. Now I have some as well. We came up with this nifty trick to have a flashlight or lamp on and a pond of water with soap that’s attracted quite a handful of them and now they’re dead.

    We’ve looked it up and found that fleas avoid citrus and other lemony type scents. My question for you is how long can fleas live without an efficient host such as a cat or dog? Can they survive solely off humans? We’re quite sure that we are dealing with cat fleas, as we also found cat hair that was not swept up from the last tenant. We have recently left the apartment for the past three days-is that enough to deprive them and kill them?

    • Adam Retzer June 18, 2018, 11:53 am

      Jessica, sorry to hear about the fleas in your new apartment.

      The claim that citrus and lemony scents repel fleas is dubious. I’ve never read anything verifying that in the scientific literature. That kind of information usually comes from websites that are pandering to people who want chemical-free methods of control, which is great, but they rarely provide actual evidence or studies to back up their claims.

      Here is information on How long fleas can live without a host

      Almost all flea infestations in domestic settings are cat fleas. And cat fleas (C. felis) can’t survive off of humans. Human fleas (P. irritans) can, but they are a somewhat rare species. Here is some info on how to identify species just in case.

      Leaving the apartment for 3 days won’t have much of an affect, unfortunately. More info on that can be found in the first link I provided.

  • Judith Contreras June 22, 2018, 6:31 am

    Please don’t mislead people. Human fleas can live and breed on humans. They are impossible to get rid of, no matter how fastidious you are.

    • Adam Retzer June 25, 2018, 11:48 am

      This website is about cat (C. felis), which makes up nearly all domestic infestations. I’ve repeatedly stated in the comments and questions areas that human fleas (P. irritans) can reproduce and survive on humans. However, they are a much more uncommon species to encounter. They are not impossible to get rid of. Spraying an insect growth regulator and vacuuming regularly should end an infestation in around 8 weeks.

  • Chris June 28, 2018, 10:34 pm

    I recently moved into a new apartment and discovered it had fleas after 4 days. Since, I have had the apartment complex use foggers and a professional exterminator. I vacuum everyday after work, yet I am still being attacked. I have no pets and I am their only source of food. How do I get rid of these annoying insects? I have bites all over my legs and occasionally on my arm. It’s been roughly 5 days since the exterminator. It seems, from your article, they can’t propagate efficiently with human blood. Am I in a wait until they die off phase? Please help.

    • Adam Retzer July 6, 2018, 1:44 pm

      It sounds like the previous tenant had pets with fleas. They are most likely cat fleas (C. felis), which can’t survive or reproduce on human blood. There is a slight chance they are human fleas (P. irritans) which can reproduce on human blood, but this a fairly rare species. Regardless, using the an insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen or methoprene, and regular vacuuming will eliminate the infestation. The sprays employed most likely contained an IGR. New generations of fleas shouldn’t take hold, but you will still need to contend with the current generation.

      Unfortunately, more patience will be required until the infestation goes away. Eggs, larvae, and pupae live deep in the environment and make up 95-99% of infestations. The larvae avoid light and crawl deep down into the substrate (base of carpets), where many are protected from sprays and vacuuming. These stages will eventually mature and emerge as the last generation of adults.

      The flea life cycle, from egg to adult, takes 17-26 days in homes. However, cocooned adults can elect to enter a quiescent (sleep-like) state for up to 5 months. Though most won’t do this, these few pre-emerged adults make eradication more difficult. The cocooned adults will rapidly wake up and emerge when they detect heat and pressure (a host). Vacuuming is a good way to simulate these host cues and force emergence.

  • Martin July 5, 2018, 12:03 am

    I rented an apartment where a person with a cazt used to live.The pet no longer resides here since since about 8 weeks.

    I have sprayed ecthol throughout the house several times yet every few days I still see a flea around my bed area.

    How come this are still here? Also, when I get bit these fleas dont leave any marks on me (I know i have been bit beacuse when I kill one they have blood on them)

    • Adam Retzer July 9, 2018, 12:26 pm

      Cocooned adults can cause infestations to last quite a while. After maturing, adults can stay inside their cocoons and enter a quiescent (sleep-like) state for up to 5 months. Most don’t, but some may. Stimuli that cause them to wake up and emerge are heat and pressure (a host resting on the cocoon). A good way to trigger emergence is by vacuuming regularly, as vacuuming will simulate these host cues.

  • VANESSA July 7, 2018, 4:47 am

    We recently moved into our home where stray cats use to roam the yard. We got rid of all the stray cats but our yard is now infested with fleas and we step outside we can see them jumping on us. The inside of our home was infested but I managed to get rid of them. Our problem is we keep this vicious cycle going by bringing them back inside our home despite our efforts to check ourselves for fleas before entering our home. My question is if my yard is free from animals will fleas in my yard eventually die? If so how long? My neighbor has dogs will fleas travel back into our yard?

    • Adam Retzer July 9, 2018, 12:40 pm

      Vanessa, it is hard to say if the fleas will go away on their own outside. They will go away if there is no more host. However, there are quite a few potential hosts that could continue the infestation cycle. Common urban hosts of cat fleas (C. felis) are feral cats and dogs, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, skunks, and foxes. If these animals are infested and go into your yard, then they will drop flea eggs and the infestation will continue.

      Here is a page with comprehensive information about treating fleas outdoors. It contains info on the best types of sprays to use, as well as other actions you can take to make your yard less flea-friendly.

  • Allison July 10, 2018, 3:42 pm

    yesterday, a cat which I feed (it is from the street) brought its kitten. I took it and held in my arms and lap ( it all lasted about 30mins, maybe even less), when I saw some bugs. I took it to bathroom to try and wash it, when I realised that they were fleas. I even saw one jump. I quickly took the kitten out. Is it possible that some fleas are left in house or on my clothes? I am really suspicious and scared. We don’t have any animals in the house, nor we ever did.

    • Adam Retzer July 12, 2018, 12:17 pm

      Allison, there shouldn’t be too much to be concerned about, especially without animals in the home.

      Flea infestations usually start from eggs. An infested host will enter new territory, and flea eggs will drop there and being developing. Each female lays around one egg an hour on the host. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours of being laid. When you brought the kitten inside, eggs likely fell inside your home.

      Though a few eggs likely fell in your home, they shouldn’t be able to survive. If some managed to fall onto a substrate with a suitable micro-climate, they will hatch in 2-3 days. However, the larvae won’t survive without “flea dirt” (feces from adult fleas). They will starve without it in a few days. While eggs fall readily from hosts, flea dirt is more prone to getting lodged in fur. Usually the flea dirt gets dislodged during host grooming. This is why flea hot spots tend to be where animals frequently rest and groom, because both eggs and feces fall in these locations.

      There are slim odds that both flea eggs and flea dirt fell in the same locations when you brought the kitten inside. And even if the fleas did manage to survive to adulthood, the infestation wouldn’t continue without an animal host in the home.

  • senka July 12, 2018, 4:45 am

    can cat fleas live in human hair?

  • Rick July 12, 2018, 8:30 am

    Hi, I’ve recently moved into a rental house and although the previous occupier may have had a cat (although not supposed to) I am not sure. I cleaned thoroughly before moving in and once living here I started to notice clusters of small bites on my ankles when I woke up in the morning. I seem to wake every morning with more bites and occasional higher up on my leg (to the knee). Sometimes during the day a reddish bump will just appear and start itching. Wasn’t sure of the cause and went to the doctor who suggested the bites could be flea bites. Now over two weeks in I am still seeing the bites but not once have I ever actually seen a flea (not on me or on my bed or in the carpet anywhere in the house). It’s a highly confusing, frustrating and itchy situation. Could there be fleas about only coming out at night? And how lucky long before the will go away (or die) for good? I’ve no pets and most of the time it’s only me in the house. My kids are here sometimes but they’ve never had any bites. I’ve been vacuuming and today treated the whole house with a spray (said it had IGR on the label). What more could I do other than waiting it out, assuming it’s a situation that can be resolved by waiting it out?

    • Adam Retzer July 12, 2018, 12:42 pm

      Rick, you need to positively identify the pest (or other cause) in order to be sure they are gone. Fleas could be causing these lesions, but it could be a variety of other things as well (for example bed bugs). If they aren’t fleas, you may be applying control measures in vain. Placing flea traps in rooms where you suspect fleas is a good way to capture and identify the specimens.

      Fleas are more active at night, but still, they are somewhat active all day. New adults will emerge from cocoons when they detect heat and pressure. So walking around the carpets can cause them to emerge and jump to you. Wearing long, white socks will keep them off of your skin, and will make them easy to identify against the white surface.

      Human fleas (P. irritans) can survive and reproduce on human blood. But this is a fairly rare species, which is why I didn’t go into detail in the article. Regardless of species, the control measures you’ve employed (vacuuming regularly and using an IGR) should be sufficient to end a flea infestation. Infestations usually end around 8 weeks after initiation of treatment. Of course, this is provided you are actually dealing with fleas.

      Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to speed up the eradication process. Eggs, larvae, and pupae make up 95-99% of infestation and live in the environment. Many live in refuges that will be protected from sprays or vacuuming (e.g. base of carpets). These immature stages need to mature, emerge, and die. As a result, patience is required for flea control.

      In the meantime, using an insect repellent can help prevent bites. Also, wearing pants and long socks, while tucking the pant legs into the socks, can help stop bites. Fleas can’t bite through most fabrics.

  • Alex Krum July 14, 2018, 9:44 am

    I put a flea trap in my basement and I found 4 how many fleas would be in my room total? (P.S cat is not allowed in my room anymore)

    • Adam Retzer July 20, 2018, 2:44 pm

      Adult fleas only make up 1-5% of the infestation (there are around 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae). And you probably didn’t capture all the adults. There will be many hundreds of eggs, larvae, and pupae developing in the environment.

  • Antonio July 15, 2018, 1:31 am

    I have a vacant home,while cleaning up the backyard notice a patch of dry grass;grass patch had a animal smell to it so I cleaned it up.. next day flea bites everywhere…fleas in the bed room, kids room,hell for several days.Discoved patch of dry grass was being used by feral cats.Oh boy fleas are no joke.they hid in my clothes,running shoes,and boots..lucky I have no pets…careful everyone,the fleas hide in cars too

  • Dominica July 16, 2018, 7:09 am

    Good morning,
    We have had fleas in our home for 2 years although we don’t have a cat anymore. We use repellent and clean regularly. but they still persist. We also spray the house every other week with chemical. what’s the best solution you have used?

  • Lora Taylor July 17, 2018, 9:10 pm

    I moved into a house six years ago that was infested with fleas and i have been battling them every since. I have moved three times but ended up taking them with me. I have done bombs, sprays, even had exterminators come out three times and nothing helps. Im getting bitten all the time even when im in bed. Someone please tell me how to get rid of them. Im ready to walk away and leave everything

  • Sarah kean August 1, 2018, 5:55 pm

    I have flew bombed my entire house twice my cat is always treated and these pains on the ass won’t go,I’ve rid my house of carpets replaced skirting the list goes on and on and these things won’t go,I’m leaving my house soon so my husband can bin the entire house,it’s a nitemare they are becoming resilient to everything.

  • Sydney August 9, 2018, 1:37 am

    Hi, a couple weeks ago I saw 3 red dots on my leg that became really itchy and red that matches the discription of fleas. I didn’t really mind it at first because I didn’t know what they were, one or two weeks after that I got 6 bites total on both of my legs! I have spotted one or two fleas on my dog awhile back but killed the ones I saw instantly, he is an inside dog that is washed with medicated shampoo for bugs every two weeks. My boyfriend on the other hand has an outside/inside dog that probably has a lot of fleas. I have never got bitten by fleas before until this incident. I’m very paranoid of bugs and I’m scared of a flea infestation! Do you think it was a one time thing or do you think there could be more fleas that will bite me? I’ve washed my bed sheets and everything in hot water and also bathed my dog.

    • Adam Retzer August 13, 2018, 1:54 pm

      There are almost certainly more fleas that will bite you. There is a slim chance that this problem will go away on its own. For every adult flea you see, there are around 100 immature fleas living in the environment (usually the base of carpets). Eggs, larvae, and pupae make up 95-99% of flea populations. As they mature and adults emerge from the environment, they will continue to bite you and infest the dog. Females will begin laying eggs once they acquire a host and feed for 24-48 hours, continuing the infestation.

      Please see our page on how to get rid of fleas for more control information.

  • Heather Culhane August 23, 2018, 3:24 pm

    Hi, I have a dog who is always up to date on his flea treatments. Recently I had some meditation chairs I loaned out that were put on top of carpet that had been kept outdoors. I bought them back home and then went away a few days. Now I have been bitten. I’m sure they are flea bites. How should I proceed with treatment of the house. I have three snakes and am worried about spraying. Will they just die out if the dog remains up to date with his flea treatments?

    • Adam Retzer September 2, 2018, 11:44 am

      There have been studies showing that pet treatments (flea drops like Advantage II or Frontline Plus) alone can end mild to moderate infestations. Vacuuming regularly will also help speed up the eradication process.

      The most effective ingredients in environmental flea sprays are insect growth regulators (IGR). You can find concentrates with only the IGR ingredient, for example Martin’s IGR only contains pyriproxyfen (Nylar). I’ve never read anything showing that pyriproxyfen is toxic to reptiles (it is an insect hormone mimic). But you may want to do further research or ask your veterinarian about safety towards reptiles. With only one active ingredient, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find an answer.

  • Kim August 28, 2018, 8:46 am

    The sand fleas . I’m so tired up legs arms also they get in my face eyebrows . it is said they dont live in u . they are in my skin. Laying eggs
    I scrape with a razon ans it is impossible to get them out. What can I use to get them off of me ?

    • Adam Retzer September 2, 2018, 11:09 am

      Kim, I am sorry to hear about your problem. Unfortunately, I don’t know too much about sand fleas (chigoe fleas or jiggers). This website is focused on fleas of pets and domestic residences.

      It sounds like you have a serious medical issue. I’d highly recommend seeing a physician.

  • Dean September 11, 2018, 10:32 pm

    I made contact with a stray cat outside my trailer and it kept rubbing on me. I believe I have fleas in my house now little black insects that jump and are hard to kill even if I squish then between my tigers.
    I have to pets. And I read some of the comments below.
    Is it true that if I don’t have pets they will eventually go away.

    • Adam Retzer October 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

      If they are cat fleas (C. felis) or dog fleas (C. canis), the most common species, then they will go away on their own without an animal in the home. If they are human fleas (P. irritans), then you may need to vacuum regularly and apply an IGR spray to the environment. I apologize for the late response.

  • Sarah September 13, 2018, 3:43 pm

    I was in rome on holiday a few days ago and a stray cat got pretty close to me. I felt something land and bite on me. It’s now 5 days later I’m back home in Scotland and I’m feeling pretty itchy and feel like I can feel something on my skin but can’t seem to find anything in my hair or clothes. Is there a chance I have fleas and I’m just missing them?

    • Adam Retzer October 22, 2018, 2:00 pm

      First, I apologize for the late response. A flea may have bit you, but you most likely didn’t carry the flea itself with you. Fleas don’t live on people. They will bite and then leave. Humans aren’t suitable hosts.

  • Pamela Holding September 23, 2018, 4:10 pm

    I’ve been recently bitten by flees where I work on the checkouts in a super market in the Uk I think someone might of passed them on to me whilst I was serving them or someone walked passed me from the checkout behind me I was bitten twice on my ankle and 4 times on my right shoulder I have read fleas can’t jump high but can the crawl up you under your clothing I’ve been bitten since and are now spraying insect repellent on me before going to work my mum says we don’t have fleas and we have no pets and until returning to work after bbeing off I was bitten how long do they survive before they die?

  • Chelsea September 26, 2018, 6:06 pm

    We just realized we had fleas on our cats and we have treated the cats, flea bathed them, and put flea collars on them. We then took them to our new houses basement and got them new litter boxes. Do you think the fleas will go away so they won’t infest our new house or do I need to do anything else? We are also letting some flea foggers off in our apartment (it’s a house we rent) and not coming back until the end of the day, will that remove all the fleas from our home? I try to kill fleas when I see them.

    • Adam Retzer October 22, 2018, 2:14 pm

      If the cats were immediately treated and quarantined to the new house’s basement, then fleas shouldn’t spread to the rest of the new house. However, if the cats were allowed access to the new house, then flea eggs likely dropped and are developing wherever the cats roamed.

      No control method will kill 100% fleas immediately. Immature stages make up 95-99% of infestations and live in protected micro-environments (base of carpets). Sprays, foggers, and vacuums won’t reach all of them. However, if an insect growth regulator (IGR) is used in the spray or fogger, then the adults that emerge should be the last generation. New eggs that fall onto the IGR-treated surfaces won’t develop. Regular vacuuming will speed up the eradication process.

      Sorry for the delayed response.

  • Layla October 7, 2018, 6:22 pm

    So if you go somewhere every weekend and the dogs there have fleas and you come home does that typically mean you have fleas I’ve seen it in my hair every time I come back from there and I have a feeling eggs are everywhere in the house especially In my bedroom?

    There’s no pets in the house.

    • Adam Retzer October 21, 2018, 12:57 pm

      Fleas don’t usually spread this way. Infestations typically begin when an infested animal drops flea eggs into another animal’s environment (e.g. infested raccoon enters a yard). The only way to be sure you have fleas is to find an adult flea and have it positively identified. Flea traps are good for this. Or walking the carpets in long white socks can encourage them to jump onto you.

  • Laura October 22, 2018, 5:11 pm

    Hi Adam,
    My strictly indoor cat has fleas. We have not been around any other animal with fleas, and like I mentioned, she never leaves the house. I don’t know how long she has been infested, but I became suspicious when I started to find a lot of “peppery” substances on my floors daily, eventually learning that this is flea dirt. We immediately took her to the vet, she was treated with capstar. I also immediately started cleaning, vacuuming and spraying cedarcide , I washed and dryed everything she laid on hot; threw out my only throw rug, cat tower, and her bedding, as well as any dishes she ate out of that morning. I quarantined her to my shower with the shower doors closed, and daily threw out the towels I would put in for her to rest on. I also gave her two Dawn baths, and applied Revolution between the shoulder blades. She remained quarantined for 5 1/3 days, and I continued to vacuum and spray daily, and I let her out feeling confident the issue was over. That night I combed her and found live fleas on her, maybe about 6, and some dead ones. I have a new born and a toddler and I am extremely concerned, however, no one in my family has ever been bitten. In your opinion, did the fleas hatch on her again, or wqs it because I let her loose and clearly I didnt do ebough cleaning? I know the one spot I didnt think of cleaning was behind the sofas and under, which she frequently visits, and did when I let her out. I know my situation is repetitive on this discussion board, and you arent here physically seeing the issues, just seeking your opinion if she is infested again, or there were fleas in the areas I neglected? Since then we did some more heavy cleaning, moving the sofas away from the walls to clean behind and the floors as well. I’m not sure if you are familiar with Cedarcide, but when I spray it kills the fleas on the spot, and the website claims that it kills the eggs and fleas, we also combed the oil through my cat’s fur. Any opinions on anything we are doing? Right or wrong? I love my cat, but Im considering rehoming if I can find anyone who would want her, because I need to put my human babies first; would that quicken the process of ending this nightmare? Or just stick it out like everyone is telling me? I want this over. Thank you.

    • Adam Retzer October 24, 2018, 5:28 pm

      Most likely it was newly emerging adult fleas that re-infested her. Immature stage (eggs, larvae, and pupae) make up 95-99% of infestations and live in the environment (carpeting usually). When these young stages become adults, they will emerge from the floor and look for a host. So it is common for animals to be re-infested for up to around 8 weeks. The on-animal treatments should kill the new fleas within 12-24 hours, before they can mate and lay eggs to continue the infestation.

      The new adults may be emerging from areas you neglected, especially if the dog spent time in those areas so flea eggs could have fallen there. However, if you thoroughly cleaned and treated all areas, some fleas would likely still survive. Flea larvae avoid light when they hatch, so they move deep into carpets and other substrates. There, many are protected in their micro-habitat. Sprays and vacuums often can’t reach. Time is needed to these fleas. They will eventually emerge as adults and die.

      Whether you get rid of the cat or not, the infestation will last about the same amount of time (provided the cat remains properly treated). So it makes sense to me to just keep the cat if you still want it.

  • Claire October 24, 2018, 1:16 pm


    Due to my work I’ve come in contact with pets and homes that are infested with fleas and had people in my car that live in homes infested with fleas. I have no pets but i am worried i may be taking fleas home in my clothing and car. Is this possible and if so would hoovering my home, car and using flea spray get rid of any fleas?


    • Adam Retzer October 24, 2018, 5:41 pm

      You should be in the clear. Fleas don’t typically spread that way, especially if you don’t have pets. Infestations often spread when an infested animal wanders into shared territory of another animal, and flea eggs are dropped there which eventually mature and infest the new animal. Additionally, upon hatching, flea larvae need flea feces to eat. The only viable zones of development will have eggs and flea dirt (feces) that has fallen from the host. These are typically areas where infested hosts groom and sleep.

      That said, vacuuming and spraying an insect growth regulator (IGR) would help prevent and control flea infestations. IGRs (such as Martin’s IGR) remain active for 7 months indoors, so they are good for long term prevention. They are an insect hormone mimic which prevents eggs and larvae from becoming adults. However, you may want to consider getting a flea trap first, just to be sure fleas are there before you begin any treatment. The traps are good for detection, identification, and population monitoring.

  • Angela Ryan October 26, 2018, 12:37 am

    If I mix half rubbing alcohol and half water with some dish soap into a spray bottle and spray down my house where the cats and dogs lay and hang out, will this kill the problem and can I spray this directly onto the cats?

    • Adam Retzer November 11, 2018, 5:00 pm

      I doubt this would work. Dish soap can kill fleas. However, flea larvae seek darkness and move down into their substrate. So, immature fleas live in protected microhabitats, such as at the base of carpets, where sprays can’t penetrate. Insect growth regulator (IGR) sprays are effective because they last for 7 months. Any eggs that fall on the treated floor for 7 months won’t become adults. A dish soap and isopropanol spray may kill the fleas it contacts, but it won’t remain active in the environment.

      It would be best to ask a vet if it’s okay to spray a cat with dishsoap and rubbing alcohol. In any case, it isn’t a good idea to regularly use dish soap on pets, because it removes the natural oils on their skin and fur. This can lead to dryness and skin problems.

  • Marty November 2, 2018, 12:27 pm

    I have a problem with fleas on me I bought Nit for lice but that hasn’t worked I’ve used lemon for essential oil cedar oil spray and I still hav a problem with I wash clothes every day and I have no pets what I’m I to do it’s driving me crazy!!!

  • Glenda Harding December 1, 2018, 1:22 pm

    I took in some foster cats. A mother and 5 kittens. I only had them 5 days on my porch that’s heated with a portable heater.
    The cats have been gone @ 3 weeks but now I have lice. They look just like cat lice. I have a cat and dog but no sign of itching plus they’re on prevention..
    What do I do about me? I have bites on arms, legs, back, and back of neck. HELP!!!
    Glenda Harding

    • Adam Retzer December 12, 2018, 1:54 pm

      Unfortunately, I specialize in fleas, not lice. It would be a good idea to consult a veterinarian for advice.

  • David December 13, 2018, 7:37 pm

    Can fleas get inside your body like your back and if so how long do they survive? And how to get rid of them or what ever it is.

    • Adam Retzer December 14, 2018, 2:55 pm

      No, fleas can’t get inside of your body. Something else is causing the symptoms you are experiencing. I’d recommend consulting a physician.