Do Fleas Fly?
In this article we will answer the question can fleas fly?
We will also hopefully answer some other questions you may have, for instance, how did my pet dog end up with a flea problem in the first place!
How many species of fleas are there?
Can you believe we are up against 2,000 types of fleas worldwide?
Can humans get fleas? Yes, they can: the human flea lives under the skin.
To get rid of the fleas, you should
- Have a shower and wash away the fleas from your body.
- Use a flea shampoo; use one for flea infestation on cats and dogs, as there is not one available for us humans.
- Try fairy liquid to treat a flea infestation; leave it in the hair for more than 10 minutes, and then comb the hair to remove fleas and eggs. Continue for a week. Wash the comb after using or the infestation might come back.
The flea that we commonly have to deal with is cat fleas, Ctenocephalides, and this species of fleas are not fussy about whether it lives on dogs or cats! Do cat fleas have wings? No, there are no species of flea that fly.
Can a flea fly?
Quite simply the answer is no they cannot fly. It is not commonly known that these small bugs do not have wings. They appear to fly like tiny flies because they are able to jump huge distances through the air. If you are quick enough to spot one doing so, it will give the appearance they are flying, but they cannot fly! The fleas will jump onto a host and feed.
How can I tell if it is a flea or not?
If you notice your dogs and cats scratching a lot, chances are your pet may have fleas. Fleas jump onto dogs and cats or any other animal and begin to bite their host. Once they have found a host, the fleas rarely leave them.
You should look for proof first of a flea problem. Bed bugs can look like fleas, and they bite just the same as fleas. However, they prefer the blood of humans, and tend to bite on the upper part of the body. Bed bugs have wings, fleas do not. Bugs that look light brown to reddish-brown and are oval and flat are probably bed bugs. Bugs that look to be 4-5 mm long are bigger than a flea, and more likely to be a bed bug. Other bugs that look like fleas are carpet beetles, flour beetles, and dog ticks.
A flea is brown-reddish in colour and have 6 powerful legs, with the legs at the front being shorter than the hind legs. These powerful legs help fleas jump onto a host.
The flea is around 2.5 mm in length, so it is visible to the naked eye. The flea has a hard outer shell called a Sclerites, which provides armour and is virtually impossible to crush with human hands.
A fleas mouth is made up of three parts that act like tiny needles, two of the parts pierce the skin and open it up to allow the middle needle to drink up the blood which is their food source.
A fleas bite is small, red and bumpy, and in groups of 4, found on an animal or human
Flea bites tend to appear on the legs and ankles of humans. If humans who are bitten by fleas have an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought. Otherwise, a bite should clear up within 2 to 3 days. One flea bites up to 400 times a day! A flea much prefers the blood of cats and dogs as a food source, rather than human blood.
How do they jump so far?
A flea cannot fly, so how do they jump so far? The flea has powerful legs that have a resilin pad on the hind legs which acts as a catapult.
The pads on the hind legs help the fleas jump up to 100 times their body size. This is how they travel from host to host.
How can I get rid of fleas?
Let us understand their lifecycle first because you can get rid of them at different stages of their life cycle with the right know-how. The cat fleas life cycle lasts between 1 and 2 months.
The life cycle of a flea
The female flea will lay flea eggs once she has fed. Usually after 48 hours, the eggs drop and hatch after around 12 days later. The eggs tiny, rounded at both ends, and are white and shiny. The flea eggs are around 0.5 mm in length and 03.mm in width.
Although flea eggs are very small, they can be seen by a human’s eye. The eggs can be shaken off by an animal and land on your carpet or bedding.
The flea Larvae are around 2 – 5 mm long, they are white looking in colour, and covered in bristles. They look somewhat like a maggot. The flea larvae will hatch from the flea eggs as part of the life cycle. The larva does not like light, so they will be found in dark areas around the house.
They are happy living in your carpet and pet beds. Flea larvae will crawl around in search of food. The adult flea will suck far more blood than it needs and will produce blood bubbles that are secreted onto a carpet, and the larvae will feed on this wasted blood along with other debris found. The Larvae will spin a cocoon and will develop inside which can take up to two weeks.
The pupa will remain in the cocoon for up to a year, where it will wait for movement or carbon dioxide. Only then will it hatch out into an adult flea.
After it has hatched, the adult flea needs to feed on its host. Once the flea has fed, it will be able to mate within 24 hours of hatching.
An adult flea bites the skin of dogs, cats, and humans to get a feed of blood from them. It is the flea bites that causes the itchiness, which leads to the victim scratching the area.
How did my dog end up with a flea infestation in the first place?
Good question. We will explain what happens when you have a flea problem. When your dogs and cats go out into the garden, they may brush up against areas with fleas in them. With their strong hind legs, the flea will jump on to passing cats and dogs where they will live and feed on their new host.
Fleas like to be in moist damp areas in the garden. With this in mind, try to keep your garden as clean as possible, such as by getting rid of garden waste.
Cats and dogs can get fleas from many places. Check the fur of the pet regularly, particularly when your pet has been out of the house. Indoor cats can get fleas from animals that come into the house. For instance, rodents can bring in flea eggs that will hatch and jump onto the cat, causing a flea infestation.
The flea jumps on and before you know it, the pet has brought fleas into the house and on them. Fleas like to be in moist damp areas, and there is nothing better for them than warm pet bedding.
Wash your pet bedding at least once a week in hot soapy water to get rid of any flea dirt. Do you have cats or dogs that come into the house and then get onto your bed or sofa? If they do, wash all your bedding and duvet covers, along with throws from the sofa.
It is worth checking your pet’s fur for fleas and flea eggs before bringing them inside the house after a walk or being out in the garden.
Comb through the fur close down to the skin with a flea comb, looking out for any nasties. The fleas and eggs, along with blood and feces, can look like tiny pepper or small dark brown spots, this is called flea dirt on dogs and cats. Should you find any flea dirt, it is time to treat your pet.
How can I get rid of these pests?
To treat an infected pet, you can buy a flea control product called Frontline, which we would recommend, which is rubbed into the fur of your pet. There are many others that do a great job, all available from a vet or supermarket.
By using a flea control like this, fleas will die immediately on contact. Flea treatments like these need to be repeated regularly, otherwise your pet could pick up fleas again.
A vet can advise you on how often to treat cats and dogs to keep them flea-free. You could make an appointment with a vet in a few weeks time to check if the flea infestation is under control.
Collars are a good, cost-effective way of keeping fleas at bay, as they work gradually over time. They are very popular amongst pet owners. The collars release the same ingredients as flea treatments, but not all in one dose. The treatment soaks into the animal skin and gets into the bloodstream, which kills the fleas. Collars can be bought from a vet or pet supplier.
Pills to kill fleas
Flea-killing pills work quickly by getting into the blood. Using a flea pill is not preventative and needs to be used with other flea repellents. Some people may find it hard to give the pill to a fussy pet
Flea shampoos can be bought at the vet or in a supermarket. When Using a flea shampoo for your dog, the fleas are killed on contact and your dog is left lovely and clean.
Shampoos are not a preventative, so the results are short-lived. Use in conjunction with other flea repellents.
To remove flea dirt from a pet, ask a vet for the right shampoo for the job.
How do I get rid of fleas in the house?
To begin with, vacuum the entire house. This will help remove flea eggs. When you empty the cylinder of the vacuum cleaner, do so outside and into a bag and tie it up. Vacuum the house at least once a week to help control the flea problem.
The home can then be treated with either a powder or liquid pesticide. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on vacuuming afterwards, and when it is safe for children and pets again in the house.
Fleas are unable to live on humans, as they do not have enough hair. Unlike an animal, they cannot lay eggs without fur or feathers for protection.
Diatomaceous earth is made up of fossilized organisms it is a very good form of flea control because it is very good at killing house and garden pests like fleas, ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, and many more.
Diatomaceous earth is not toxic to cats and dogs. When used, it causes dehydration by getting into the skin and drying out the oils of the insects, killing them. You should use food-grade diatomaceous earth for a flea problem, as food-grade is non-toxic.
To use Diatomaceous earth in the house for pest control, simply sprinkle it around the areas you have seen the fleas. It will take 48 hours to kill the cat fleas. It can be used to get rid of fleas in the carpet and pet bedding, and it does not stop working on the flea infestation unless it gets wet. Vacuum occasionally to vacuum up any fleas, bugs, eggs, or other insects that may be in the house. Once you have finished dealing with the flea infestation and it is under control, continue to vacuum the carpet regularly to get rid of eggs and bugs.
Natural pest control methods to try
Fleas do not like vinegar. You can make up a spray bottle of vinegar, water, lemon juice, and witch hazel, and spray lightly around the home.
Do not use on cats, as this mixture will make them ill!
Lemon skin contains essential oils that fleas do not like. Try leaving some around the home.
Boil some water with Rosemary sprigs in, allow to cool, and strain off the rosemary. Place in the fridge. When you wash your dog, pour the rosemary water over your dog’s fur and allow it to dry naturally.
Baking soda will dehydrate fleas, eggs, and cocoons, causing death. Sprinkle baking soda over your carpets and vacuum up later in the day.
Washing up liquid
On a plate, place a few drops of washing up liquid and water, stir around, then place a lit candle in the middle. Place a few plates like this around the infected areas.
How does this work?
The flames and heat from the candle attract larvae, and the heat will cause the cocoon to hatch. Fleas cannot swim, and will just float on the mixture, becoming trapped. You could be amazed at how many are trapped in this way.
Please be careful with leaving candles unattended and particularly with pets, babies, and small children in the home.
This natural method is becoming more and more popular for pest control. It does not cause any harm to the environment, children, or pets.
A Nematode is a microscopic worm-like parasite that will kill insects by putting poison into the host and then eating them from the inside. The Nematode can be found all over the world in water and on land. They will kill fleas, cockroaches, flies, and ants, as well as others. The Nematode is thankfully not harmful to bees.
What do you do with the Nematodes to get rid of fleas
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but generally, they are mixed with water and sprayed directly onto the soil, plants, and lawn. Stir the mixture regularly, as the Nematodes can sink to the bottom. Avoid too much heat from the sun, as this can kill them. Use early evening or later in the day when it is cooler.
The Bubonic plague
We thought we ought to mention the Bubonic plague, as it was a major problem. Back in 1347, ships docked in a Sicilian port had it, most of the crews were dead, with those still alive having black boils on their body.
The ships were told to leave, but it was too late, the bubonic plague had arrived. This plague spread within weeks and began to kill 20 million people. The plague was spread to humans by rats and flea bites! The plague was also spread to passing animals. Many sheep died due to the plague, causing a wool shortage.
The plague eventually died out through the healthy staying away from the sick. The world health organization has said there are still cases of up to 3,000 a year. Thankfully, antibiotics are used for treatment.
And finally, fleas cannot fly; they make it look like they can. Fleas are only small but what a pest to have!
Now that you know more about fleas, you are able to guard against possible infestation in your home and on your pets. You now know about the various treatments available to you and what they do.
We hope you have found this article useful. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to drop us an email, and we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible.
Hope you stay flea-free!
Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively.