How Long Will Fleas Live Without A Host

How Long Will Fleas Live Without A Host

Did you know that there are almost three hundred species of fleas in the U.S alone? Yes, that is right. The most common fleas that exist include:

  • Dog fleas
  • Human fleas
  • Rat fleas

These fleas are the reason for the transmission of many diseases. This is why it is important to know how they survive, the flea life cycle, and how long fleas live without a host.

This is your complete guide to knowing everything about fleas and how you can effectively get rid of them if you have a flea problem at home.

The Flea Life Cycle

Before you understand anything else, you need to understand the flea life cycle. It will give you insight into what a flea cocoon is, how long flea eggs last, and how long do fleas live.

You can then use this information to understand what you can expect from different fleas and how you can get rid of them. Here are the flea eggs, larvae, and pupae stage of the flea life cycle.

#1. Beginning Of The Flea Life Cycle

The beginning of the life cycle is an interesting stage in a fleas life as this is when it all starts. It begins through an adult female feeding on a new host for the first time.

The female flea mother finds a host for the first time and feeds in its blood as its first meal. As soon as this happens, she lays a few eggs. Do remember, that without feeding on a host a female flea will not be able to lay eggs.

This is because the blood is responsible for providing the flea energy to engage in reproduction. The flea eggs that it produces are usually twenty eggs at one time. However, if they have enough energy then they can also lay 50 eggs in one day. This depends on how much blood the flea has.

The problem is that these flea eggs and larvae don’t stay in one place as they can easily be transferred. The flea will first lay them in the fur of an animal. However, as the animal walks the eggs and larvae will fall and stay there until they hatch. This is how they are transferred from host to host.

#2. Flea Larvae Stage  

This is the second stage in the flea life cycle. In this stage, the flea eggs and larvae that have been laid by the fleas finally start to hatch. Their appearance is astoundingly similar to those of maggots as they are pale in color. Once the flea larvae have been completely developed, it will go up to 5mm long.

Flea larvae are blind and they keep themselves away from sources of bright light. So, if the flea chose a domesticated host such as a pet then the eggs will fall into small openings in your home or places such as the carpet.

This is because the flea larvae thrive in these places as they are away from light sources and provide them the darkness that they need. With time, they will burrow even deeper into these places. On the other hand, these larvae bury themselves into roots of plants and dirt if they fall outside.

During their development period, these larvae don’t go hungry. They take nutrition from the blood packs that their mother flea has pre-digested within them. This blood gives them the energy they need to grow without looking for a host to fulfill their nutrition.

#3. Pupae Stage

This stage is perhaps the most important one and the most difficult to get rid of. The larvae start spinning a silky cocoon for itself from gossamer (the same item that spiders produce when they want to weave webs).

In its early stages, the cocoon is an extremely sticky substance. However, once it starts attaching to different things such as dust and dirt then it creates a hard shell covering for itself.

The hard shell is the reason why it is difficult to get rid of flea pupae. They can’t be easily exterminated and neither can they be vacuumed. This stage can last anywhere from five days to two weeks.

#4. Adult Stage

The pupae need a little nudge to come out of the cocoon and turn into a flea adult. If there are unfavorable conditions outside then the fleas can remain inside the cocoon till at least five months. However, if there is any signal of a host outside then it will prepare to come out of the cocoon.

They sense the vibrations of the movement of a host or if they feel a presence of exhaled CO2 from a nearby host they will prepare to come out. These adult fleas are red, brown, or black.

The first thing adult fleas do when they come out of their cocoon is look for a host. The fleas need blood as soon as they come out and this is why they have strong hind-legs. It provides them with the ability to jump onto any host and start feeding on their blood.

After their first blood meal, the flea can start laying eggs anywhere from thirty-six to forty-eight hours. Fleas can lay almost thirty eggs in a day and depending upon the species of the flea they can lay at least eight hundred eggs in their lifetime.

If adult fleas have ideal conditions where it can fully thrive then their life can last up to almost a hundred days. However, many die before that as the conditions are not for their ideal growth.

This stage is when the life cycle is complete.

Places Where Fleas Can Live

It is important to know the common places where these fleas hide so if there is a flea infestation in your home then you can easily get rid of this problem. Here is a list of the many places where adult fleas can live out their life that can lead to an insect growth problem:

#1. Fleas On Your Pets

Animals attract the most fleas and insect growth. Pets are a breeding ground for adult fleas as they like burrowing inside an animal’s fur since it protects them from light and other unfavorable conditions. So, you will find many fleas on your pets.

The anatomy fleas is such that it can easily navigate inside fur and hold on to it if the animal decides to scratch or shake the adult fleas out. So, the first place you should look for adult fleas is your pets as cat fleas and dog fleas are difficult to get rid of.

#2. Carpet

This is the fleas second best hiding place. It is an ideal location for them to burrow deep inside the fiber of the carpet without being seen. It protects fleas from light and other conditions. Adult fleas thrive inside a carpet and lay eggs inside it too.

#3. Furniture

The insides of furniture pieces such as sofas, armchairs, and beds are the perfect place for adult fleas to hide and create insect growth. These are ideal locations as they provide darkness and adult fleas can easily live in here. Such corners make it even more difficult to spot if there is a flea infestation.

#4. Hard To Reach Places

Adult fleas will thrive anywhere in a place that is hard to reach by humans. This is why high places are also an ideal location for them to hide. This is the reason why cats also like roaming in high places such as the top of appliances or shelving.

So, a cat will easily be able to spread adult fleas in the home. You must get your cat checked from time to time so that the problem inside your home doesn’t intensify. Cat fleas and dog fleas are not easy to remove.

How Do Fleas Look For A Host?

Adult fleas don’t live too long if they don’t find a blood meal. This is why they need to look for a host as soon as they come out of their cocoon. First, the flea inside the cocoon goes through something known as a quiescent period.

During this, the fleas have transformed into an adult inside the cocoon. The metabolism of fleas is extremely low at this time since they can’t feed themselves. However, the maximum time limit that adult fleas can stay inside without a host is five months.

As soon as fleas inside the cocoon sense a potential host nearby they jump onto and transfer to the host so that they can indulge in their first blood meal. If the flea is female then having its first blood meal will give it the energy to lay eggs.

How Long Do Fleas Live Without A Host?

As soon as the flea is an adult, the countdown to its first blood meal starts. This is because when fleas come out their metabolism starts working super fast and they need a host to feed on. However, there are times when fleas will not be able to find any host nearby.

If this is the case then a flea will soon start going through starvation. Once the fleas are outside the cocoon and they can’t find any meal then they will only be able to live for a week without a host. This is because the fleas will die of starvation since they have no host to jump onto.

The Lifetime Of Fleas With A Host

If fleas find a host then it can easily live for two to three months. However, this is only the case if it has regular access to the host to feed on its blood. Apart from that, if there are unfavorable weather conditions then the flea will die early as well. For example, fleas need a temperature of 85°F to thrive and live for three months.

Telltale Signs Of A Flea Infestation

If you are suspicious that there is a problem of fleas in your home then you can take steps to get rid of them. You should figure this out early before the flea lays eggs and the problem starts magnifying. Here are some obvious telltale signs that your home may have a flea infestation:

#1. Fleas On Pets

If you have pets in your home then you also understand the importance of keeping them clean from time to time. If your pet is scratching too much then it is time you check them for fleas so that they don’t transfer it to other areas of your home.

Use a flea comb to separate their fur and then inspect their skin. Fleas are extremely small so it can be difficult at first to spot them. However, if there are small and dark specks on the skin of your pet then it means they have fleas.

This is because fleas are usually black, red, or brown. So these are the spot colors you should be looking for. Apart from that, if you see something moving in their skin or fur then that is a flea as well.

Once you find fleas you should take steps to remove it from your pets as their egg-laying capacity is significant and the problem can magnify within a few days.

#2. Flea Bite Marks

Flea bites can happen on a pet’s skin and yours as well. If these bites are present on you or your pet then it means you have a problem of fleas inside your home. They leave unique bite marks so it is easy to tell a mosquito bite apart from a flea bite.

These will look like red and itchy bumps. These bumps will be in the form of small spots that will have a red halo around them. The bite marks of fleas are relatively small than a mosquito bite.

Apart from that, you may experience swelling, hives, or a rash around the area. If that happens then you need to find a way to get rid of the fleas so you don’t experience this again.

#3. Flea Faeces

Do you see any brown or black flakes on your pet’s bedding? Well, then these are not just any flakes, they are the feces of fleas. To confirm this you should take a damp cloth or tissue and put it over the flake. If the tissue turns red or brown then that means you have just encountered flea feces.

This is another sign that there are fleas around your house. So, it is important to constantly keep a check on your pet’s bedding and yours as well so if there is this issue then you can get to know as soon as possible.

How To Prevent Fleas From Entering Your Home 

There are always precautionary steps you can take so that fleas don’t enter your home in the first place. Here are the many things you can do that will reduce the chances of your home developing a flea infestation:

#1. Trim Your Yard

Gardens and yards are an extremely inviting place for fleas to enter easily. This is why you mustn’t make them look too inviting to these parasites. Regular maintenance of your yard and garden will ensure that they don’t enter the outdoor area of the home.

To do this, you should always keep your grass, trees, and shrubs trimmed. This will reduce the number of places that the fleas can use to hide. Apart from that, regular trimming will also ensure that other animals and pests are not coming into your garden and bringing fleas with them.

A bonus tip here is to never leave your pet’s food bowl outside. This attracts other animals that are on the hunt for food and they can bring fleas with them as well.

#2. Invest In A Yard Flea Spray

Take your yard cleaning a step further and get a good flea spray. This will ensure that no pests are coming into your home through any means. Even if you have fleas on your clothing, the spray will make sure that these are destroyed before you set foot in your home.

Doing so will make your yard and home both friendly for pets and kids as it will be neat, clean, and flea-free. Apart from that, the flea spray will also get rid of other pests such as ticks, ants, mosquitoes, and other insects.

#3. Regularly Vacuum Your Home

Our homes may be clean but even a small walk in the park might catch you fleas on your shoes on your clothing. However, the biggest risk of infestation is inside the fibers of the carpet.

This is why it is important to regularly vacuum your home so that these fleas don’t end up becoming a bigger problem. As a general rule of thumb, you should vacuum your home completely at least once a week.

However, to completely protect your home from infestation, you should clean the vacuum bags as well. This way if any fleas make their way inside your vacuum then they don’t multiply inside the bags.

So, you should vacuum your home and then clean the vacuum bags as well to keep your home completely clean.

#4. Flea Carpet Spray

Carpets are the biggest places for infestations. This is why it may be a good idea to get a flea carpet spray, especially if you have pets living inside your home.

The carpet spray can be sprayed over both furniture and carpets and this can prevent fleas from infecting your furniture and getting into small crevices inside your upholstery. There are many sprays available in the market so you can choose from anyone to kill fleas.

#5. Regularly Give Your Pets A Bath

You can always get a flea treatment shampoo for your pet and regularly give them a bath using that so they don’t encounter any fleas. Doing this will ensure that your pets are always neat and clean,

However, this doesn’t mean that you just use the shampoo one time. You have to be consistent with it and use a flea comb from time to time as well so that your pet is completely clean and free of fleas.

This will reduce the risk of them hosting fleas and you will enjoy a clean home as well.

#6. Always Keep Your Pet Bedding Clean

Take the prevention of fleas even further when it comes to your pets and keep your pet bedding clean at all times too. This will help them sleep better and reduce the risk of infestation at the same time.

To ensure this, you should wash the pet bedding in hot and soapy water. This has the power to kill all the larvae and eggs of the fleas. Cleaning them this way will ensure that your pet doesn’t lick, scratch, or itch at night and has a good night’s sleep.

#7. Treat An Infestation

If you have already found signs of an infestation in your home then you shouldn’t leave it like that. You should always take steps to get rid of this infestation because fleas can transfer anywhere and lay many eggs that can cause your entire home to be infested in no time.

This is why as soon as you find signs of a problem you should give your house a deep cleaning. This means that every area and surface should be washed thoroughly so that there are no fleas left once you are done with it.

However, if you think it is too much for you then you should invest in an exterminator instead. These professionals are equipped to deal with infestations and they will get rid of your problem in no time.

These measures should be taken especially if you have family, pets, or children living in your home. You need to protect them from the risk of this infestation so that they can stay in a clean and healthy home without fleas.

Final Words

This was your complete guide to infestations. It is always better to take precautions than to incur a problem later on that will be more difficult to fix. Understand the flea cycle and the places they love to hide.

Understanding these things will give you the knowledge to deal with an infestation if it occurs in your home. Generally, you should always keep your home and yard clean at all times so that these fleas don’t get attracted to come into your home in the first place.

If fleas do enter, then you can take these steps to get rid of the infestation and keep your home clean and thriving for others.


Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each pest control method, product and process. 

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