The Life Cycle of a Flea - And How to End It!

Everyone know fleas can be a nuisance—that telltale scratching is the last thing any owner wants to see! And in the attempt to eliminate them, knowledge about their life cycle can prove extremely helpful. That’s why we decided to put together this little guide!

Fleas have four life stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult. And each of those stages requires a host – your pet! – or at the very least, an area where that host is actively living.

Stage One: Eggs

  • The optimal temperature for fleas to mate and lay eggs is between 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A female needs to have a blood meal before she lays her eggs, but then those egg batches can get as big as forty!
  • The female will lay the eggs on the host (your pet) and as that host moves around, the eggs fall off in the environment around them to hatch.

Stage Two: Larvae

  • The eggs then hatch into larvae, which are small, transparent, white, legless creatures.
  • The larvae feed on “flea dirt.” Flea dirt is blood waste from the meals of adult fleas, as well as any other debris those larvae can find.

Stage Three: Pupae   

  • The larvae will then spin a cocoon around them to become a “pupae.”
  • The cocoon itself is sticky and durable, which protects the pupae from the environment.
  • Pupae can stay in their cocoon for months if the environment is not right for hatching, which is why if you move into a new location, it may seem like fleas suddenly come out of nowhere!
  • The adult flea will not emerge from the cocoon until they sense a host is near--through vibrations of movement or the detection of body heat. Again -- they can wait months for this!

Stage Four: Adult

  • After emerging from the cocoon, the adult flea spends its life on the host feeding, breeding, and laying eggs.
  • These adults only make up about 5% of the flea population when you consider all of the life cycles. Remember what we mentioned about batches of 40 eggs?
  • Adult fleas can live for several months on their host.
  • The young adult fleas are smaller and darker in color, but after a couple feedings, they become larger and browner in color.

So now that you know all about this life cycle, the question remains -- how can you get rid of these little guys?? Well, there are a whole slew of products for just this problem, but we’ve narrowed down a few here to highlight our favorite, most effective techniques. You’ll need to hit each space carefully if you want to really be rid of this infestation.

On Your Pet: If you discover fleas on your pet, the first thing to do is give your pet a thorough bath with a flea-killing shampoo (Mad About Organics and Natural Chemistry are good ones). For those feisty pets who don’t tolerate baths, these companies also make sprays that will kill the fleas on contact, and Diatomaceous Earth even makes a powder that will do the job well.

After you take care of current fleas, make sure you apply a product that will prevent future fleas from setting up shop. Snooks makes a great oral supplement, and Mad About Organics and Natural Chemistry make great sprays for just this situation. You can also use a chemical, topical treatment, such as Advantage, that will kill future fleas that come in contact with your pet.

In Your Home and Car: The best thing you can do for your home and car is to regularly and thoroughly clean them.  Vacuum daily to get rid of any eggs that may have fallen off your pet.  Wash all pet bedding, and even toys ,multiple times a week. You can also even spray your home and pets bedding with the same flea-killing sprays or powders that you apply to your pet.

In Your Yard: Yep, fleas in all their life stages can survive outside. They especially like shady places, so treat those spots first. You can kill the fleas with a yard spray that hooks up to your hose; Natural Chemistry makes a great option. Then, spread cedar chips around your yard. Fleas are repelled by the scent and it will keep new ones from invading!  You can also try beneficial Nematodes.  These are microscopic worms that actually feed on flea larvae and they do not harm people, pets, or your yard!  You simply spray them around your yard, and they can survive naturally.

Stop by the store to chat with us about any of these great options!  Mention this blog in the next week for 15% off all flea control items!

Posted on October 5, 2016 .