Colour: black to brownish-black
Size: 2 mm
Fleas are external parasites that survive off the blood of their hosts. The adult fleas you can see only represent about 5% of the total flea population. They can reproduce quickly with the female producing hundreds of eggs over its lifetime. Biting cats, dogs, and people, adult fleas can cause extreme discomfort and irritation and transmit diseases. It is best to develop a plan for removing fleas as they can live for long periods off a host.
Fleas infest both household pets and wild animals like opossums, raccoons and skunks. They can also be found on shoes, pant legs or blankets, which can transfer the fleas to new environments.
Flea Life Cycle
There are four stages of the flea lifecycle namely the embryo, larvae, pupae, and imago (adult). Adult fleas must feed on blood before they can become capable of reproduction. The female begins laying a total of about 300 to 400 tiny white oval eggs.
Eggs are laid in batches of up to 20 or so, usually on the host itself, which then easily roll onto the ground. As such, areas where the host rests and sleeps become one of the primary habitats of eggs and developing fleas. The eggs take around two days to two weeks to hatch depending on temperature and humidity.
Flea larvae are small, cylindrical in appearance, with neither legs nor eyes. The head is small but equipped with chewing mouthparts. They need to avoid sunlight, keeping to dark places like sand, cracks, and crevices, as well as bedding. Larvae usually pupate within 1-2 weeks. Then after another week or two, the adult flea is fully developed and ready to emerge from their cocoon. They may, however, remain resting during this period until they receive a signal that a host is near—vibrations (including sound), heat, and carbon dioxide are all stimuli indicating the probable presence of a host.
Fleas are known to overwinter or diapause in the larval or pupal stages. Fleas only have around a week to find food once they emerge, though they can survive two months to a year between meals. Thus, the life expectancy of adult fleas depends largely on food supply, temperature, and humidity. At low temperatures (60° F), well-fed fleas may live for several years.
Clean and vacuum frequently to help remove flea populations and prevent the laying of eggs. Keep lawns groomed to avoid rodent habitation. Pet owners should practice active flea management by keeping dogs on a leash when outside, bathing and grooming pets regularly, visiting a veterinarian annually, and using flea treatments according to direction.
Flea Service Prep Guide
There are many things that should be done to prepare for a flea treatment. For the full list of ways to make your flea treatment successful, view our Flea Service Preparation Guide.