Seeing a single flea is enough to fill anyone with dread. As soon as you see one flea, you’ll start to see dozens, and then hundreds of the little buggers will be jumping around your house!
Fleas are prolific creatures, so identifying an infestation early is vital to getting rid of them. If you find fleas in your house, take action quickly and be consistent with routines associated with eliminating fleas. The most important aspect of repelling fleas is eliminating all four life stages of these pests.
Treating your home for fleas can seem like a mountain of work, but with proper care, you’ll kick those fleas out of your home in no time!
- Fleas reproduce rapidly and can turn into an infestation in just a few short weeks.
- Most flea infestations are caused by fleas that are on your pet or by local wild animals that carry fleas into your yard.
- Treating your pet and your home is essential to removing fleas from your home.
Will Pesky Fleas Go Away On Their Own?
Before we get into all the things you should do if you find a flea in your home, let’s establish if getting rid of fleas is even necessary. Will they go away on their own?
The answer is no, fleas will not go away on their own if they are in your house. This is because fleas have such a high reproductive rate and can stay for long periods in their cocoons.
By the way, if you’re not sure whether or not you have fleas, check out our guide on the difference between fleas, ticks, and bed bugs.
Fleas Reproduce Rapidly
Let’s break down the life cycle of a flea:
- Egg stage: This is the first stage of a flea’s life. The eggs are deposited on the host’s fur but quickly fall off and are lodged in carpets, beds, and furniture (yuck!)
- Larva stage: about 2-5 days after being laid, the eggs will hatch into larvae. These are worm-like creatures that chill in carpet fibers, beneath pet beds, and other areas safely tucked away. The larva stage lasts about 1-2 weeks.
- Pupae stage: Once the worms have grown to the proper size (about 5mm long), they will start spinning a cocoon. The larvae spend about 1-2 weeks in their cocoon but can remain there for months if conditions are not suitable.
- Adult stage: After a few weeks of growing and molting in their cocoon, adult fleas will emerge and immediately try to find a host to begin feeding off of. And the cycle continues…
Fleas Can Wait You Out
As you can see, the entire life cycle of a flea doesn’t take all that long. And the more fleas there are, the more fleas there will be in the future.
Even if you remove all living creatures from your home for a month, fleas in the cocoon stage can wait to emerge until you return and will keep the cycle going. The University of California backs this up by telling us that fleas can remain in their cocoon stage for up to 12 months!
Having pets increases the risk of having fleas in the house. But with proper treatment, your pet can live a flea-free life, and you can breathe a sigh of relief for your home.
One Flea Doesn’t Necessarily Mean An Infestation
If you spot a flea and smash it to pieces, can you expect to see more fleas, or is the problem over? One flea can mean an infestation, but one flea doesn’t always mean an infestation.
Even if your pet is treated with flea prevention, it’s still possible for fleas to hitch a ride in your pet’s fur and make it inside your home. In this case, one flea isn’t a huge deal. It will try to feed on your pet, ingest the flea treatment, and perish before it can lay eggs.
If your pet isn’t treated or you see more than just one flea, you probably have a problem. This is especially true if you’re noticing reddish-black dust on your pet’s bed or in their fur. The dust is flea feces, which mostly consists of blood.
You can read more about why fleas won’t leave on their own here.
Here Are 9 Things To Do If You Find Fleas In Your House
Fleas are pesky little home invaders that are very difficult to get rid of. Just when you think you have them under control, cocoons hatch, and all of a sudden your flea population spikes again.
Below are some things you can do at the first sign of a flea problem. They are laid out in chronological order. The first step? Find out how the heck the fleas are getting inside!
1. Find Out How The Fleas Are Getting Inside
The first step you should take after noticing fleas is identifying how they’re getting inside. Figure out who or what brought them in, and you can stop future fleas from getting inside.
The most likely culprit is a pet. Pet’s go outside to do their business or explore, and they bring back unwanted hitchhikers into your home. Even a treated pet can carry fleas inside, but they’re less likely to survive.
Watch out for these signs that your pet has fleas:
- Salt-and-pepper stains on their bed
- Scabs around the neck and the base of the tail
Fleas can creep their way into your home from other animals that aren’t your pets. If your neighborhood has a lot of stray cats, one might be living beneath your porch and be carrying fleas. The fleas then slip through cracks and open windows and find their way inside.
Wild animals can also carry fleas. Opossums, raccoons, squirrels, mice, voles, moles, coyotes, and skunks can all have fleas. If one or more of these animals wander into your yard often, they can transmit the fleas near your home, where they sneak inside.
2. Treat Your Pet With Flea Prevention Products
Flea prevention should be used year-round on your pet. No exceptions! There are TONS of products available for your pet:
|Description and How it Works
|Topical Spot-on Treatment
|Applied to the skin between the pet’s shoulder blades, it spreads over the body through natural oils and kills fleas and ticks on contact. It contains insecticides that disrupt the flea’s nervous system or growth regulators that inhibit flea development.
|Administered as a pill or chew, it circulates in the pet’s bloodstream and kills fleas and ticks when they bite. It contains chemicals that interfere with the pests’ nervous system or growth regulators that prevent flea development.
|Worn around the pet’s neck, it releases chemicals that repel or kill fleas and ticks. The active ingredients are gradually released onto the pet’s skin and coat, providing continuous protection.
|Flea and Tick Shampoo
|Used during baths, it kills fleas and ticks on contact and provides temporary protection. The active ingredients disrupt the pests’ nervous system or interfere with their growth and development.
|Flea and Tick Spray
|Applied directly onto the pet’s coat, it kills fleas and ticks on contact and provides temporary protection. The active ingredients disrupt the pests’ nervous system or interfere with their growth and development.
Seresto Flea and Tick Collars work great because they will last up to 8 months. The cost is higher upfront, but over time, you will save more than buying 1-month or 6-month supply spot treatments. They’re also available for cats – Seresto Flea and Tick Collar For Cats.
Spot treatments like Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Treatment is another option. They come in liquid applicators where each treatment lasts 1 month. You place the applicator against your pet’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades, and deposit the liquid. Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Treatment for Cats is also available for cats.
3. Wash Your Pet’s Beds Often
Washing your pet beds may seem like a pointless task. Fido is likely to go outside and roll around in who-knows-what and immediately ruin his freshly-washed bed anyway…
But when fleas are involved, you want to take care to wash your pet’s bedding often, at least once a week. If your pet’s bed cannot be washed in a machine, you’ll want to hand wash it as best you can.
If your pet doesn’t have a bed but rather sleeps on a blanket or the couch, wash those, too. Wherever your pet likes to rest will likely be crawling with larvae and eggs. Washing can help stop the egg & larvae cycle, and treating your pet with flea prevention will stop the adult cycle.
Pets aren’t the only thing that is attractive to fleas in your home. Check our guide on the things that attract fleas to your home for a complete list.
4. Wash Your Blankets Frequently
Not every flea situation will be the same. Some homes that are invaded by these annoying pests do not have pets.
Whether you do or don’t have a pet, you’ll want to wash all the blankets that are currently out on your bed, on couches, and on your pet beds. Every blanket.
Flea eggs and larvae like to hang out in blanket fibers where they can hide from prying eyes. Because they’re so small, they’re less likely to be spotted in a blanket than on your kitchen floor.
5. Pick Up All Items From The Ground
Keeping your house neat 24/7 is impossible. We all leave things on the ground like jackets, socks, dog toys, cat toys, pillows, kids toys, etc. We know we should put them away, but…eh, tomorrow, right?
When you have a flea infestation, you’ll want to be sure to pick up every loose item off the floor, especially items that are on the carpet.
Fleas that hide in the carpet are hard enough to spot, let alone if something is on top of the carpet. This step is in preparation for vacuuming, which is one of the final steps to getting rid of fleas.
Ideally, you’ll want to do all of the steps so far in one day.
6. Vacuum Every Inch Of Your Carpet
So far you’ve treated your pet, cleaned all the blankets and pet bedding, and you’ve picked up all loose items from the floor. Now, you don’t want to put your clean blankets and pet bedding on top of carpets that are infested with eggs and larvae.
So, if you’ve put a checkmark next to the first 5 steps of our flea-free house program, you can bust out your vacuum and cover every square inch of your carpet.
Don’t skip out beneath furniture or your bed. Don’t forget stair carpeting or welcome mats just inside the door. When you are completely done vacuuming or when your vacuum bag gets full, empty it outdoors into a garbage bag, seal the garbage bag tight, and store it outside your home until garbage day.
This step is so important because vacuuming will stimulate pupae to exit their cocoon. Vibrations typically mean a host is walking nearby, meaning the conditions are favorable to exit the cocoon. Getting rid of the cocoons is important when trying to rid your home of fleas. If you don’t, they could hatch up to 4 months later and infest your home again.
Check out our article on the places where fleas hide during the day to make sure you’re vacuuming these hot spots.
7. Treat Your Rugs With A Mild Insecticide
If you’ve done all the previous steps, you can move on to treating your carpets, rugs, and pet bedding with a mild insecticide. Since we already covered treating your pet, let’s focus on treating your home. Vacuuming probably sucked up most of the eggs, larva, and even a few adult fleas.
But there may be some stragglers…
Wondercide’s Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Spray for Dogs, Cats, and Home is an excellent choice. This product is so mild that you can spray it directly onto your pet’s coat for flea prevention.
Always read the label for proper directions and use. Be sure to allow the product to dry before letting pets back on bedding or carpets.
This is the final step in treating your home for a flea infestation. But don’t pack up your tools just yet. Believe it or not, you’ll probably have to do all of these steps several times over to get rid of every flea in the house.
If you really can’t shake these pests, read our guide on the reasons why you can’t get rid of fleas in your house to see what you’re missing.
8. Use Flea Traps To Monitor Your Progress
As we just mentioned, you’ll probably have to do all of the above steps a few times before you see real improvements. But it can be difficult to see any improvements with how tiny fleas are!
To monitor your progress, consider buying flea traps like the TERRO Indoor Electric Flea Light Refillable Flea Trap. The trap uses light and warmth to attract fleas and then traps them on sticky paper.
Flea traps are not meant to solve your flea problem. They’re more like a monitoring system. As you wash your blankets and pet beds and vacuum your carpets, you can check the traps to see if the flea population has gone down.
You’ll want to replace the traps after each cleaning. Eventually, you’ll want to see zero fleas in the trap. This is when you know all your hard work has paid off and your home is flea-free!
9. Identify Infestations In Your Yard
Flea problems aren’t always concentrated in your home. Sometimes, the fleas are coming inside because your yard is infested with fleas. If you’re doing everything in your power to control the fleas in your home and they still keep getting in, the problem probably lies outside your house.
These types of infestations can be due to stray cats or wild animals. If your yard is attracting them, your yard is likely crawling with the little buggers. Treat hot spots with insecticides similar to the one mentioned above. For your yard, you may want to buy bulk such as the 16oz Wondercide Flea and Tick Spray Concentrate for Yard and Garden.
Concentrate on areas where your pet sleeps or hangs out. Always read the directions on the label before using it to make sure it is okay to use near plants, pollinate flowers, etc.
But wait, how do you know whether or not you have a flea infestation in your yard?
How To Tell If You Have A Flea Infestation In Your Yard
Before you run pell-mell to the closest hardware store to buy a pesticide, check to see if fleas are actually in your yard.
The easiest way to do this? Grab a large pair of white socks and hike them up as high as you can up your legs. Walk through your yard, ensure your neighbor you’re not crazy, and check your socks.
The white of your socks should make it easy to spot any fleas that are hiding in your yard. If you see them, you may be wondering why they’re hanging out in your yard.
- Attractants – Wild animals may be attracted to your yard because of scraps, pet food, water dishes, open spaces beneath porches or sheds, and unsecured garbage cans
- Birdfeeders – although birds aren’t likely to carry fleas, the animals that are attracted to birdseed (mice, voles, moles, squirrels) do carry fleas.
- Farm animals – cows, goats, sheep, chickens…whatever farm animals you may have can carry fleas. The only exception is adult pigs.
If it turns out you have fleas, try eliminating these attractants to keep wild animals and stray cats out of your yard. Strong scents are another great way to repel fleas from certain areas. You can find out more in our article on the scents that fleas hate.
That’s A Wrap!
Fleas are one of the worst pests to have in the home. Their high reproductive rate means controlling their population requires dedication and consistency.
You don’t have to have a pet to have a flea infestation, but pets make it more likely. You can also get fleas from stray cats and wild animals or bring them in yourself.
Once you have a flea infestation, fast action is required to get rid of them. To recap, here are the 9 steps you should take if you find fleas in your home:
- Find out where they’re coming from – pets, wild animals
- Treat your pet with flea treatment
- Wash pet bedding
- Wash blankets
- Pick up anything that sits on the carpet – toys, containers, etc.
- Vacuum the carpet thoroughly
- Treat rugs with a mild insecticide
- Use flea traps to monitor progress
- Use white socks to identify if the yard is infested with fleas & treat the yard
You may have to repeat this process several times to get rid of fleas for good. If you can’t seem to shake these jumping pests, try calling a professional. Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with a local exterminator.
Exterminators will help identify where the fleas are getting in, treat your home and yard, and seal any holes where the fleas are sneaking inside. Don’t worry, you’ll have a flea-free home in no time!
Azrizal-Wahid, N., Sofian-Azirun, M., & Low, V. L. (2019). Risk factors associated with a flea infestation on cats. Tropical Biomedicine, 36(4), 810-821.
Dryden, M. W. (2009, December 16). Flea and tick control in the 21st century: challenges and opportunities. Veterinary Dermatology, 20(5-6), 435-440.
Marchiondo, A. A., Holdworth, P. A., Fourie, L. J., Rugg, D., Hellmann, K., Snyder, D. E., & Dryden, M. W. (2013, May 01). World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (W.A.A.V.P.) second edition: guidelines for evaluating the efficacy of parasiticides for the treatment, prevention, and control of flea and tick infestations on dogs and cats. Veterinary Parasitology, 194(1), 84-97.
S Rahbari, S Nabian, F Nourolahi, F Arabkhazaeli, E Ebrahimzadeh. Flea Infestation in Farm Animals and Its Health Implication. Iran J Parasitol. 1;3(2):43-47.
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