Both males and females bite and suck blood. The bite often leaves an itchy, red spot. Some species of fleas transmit diseases such as bubonic plague, murine typhus, and tularemia tapeworms to humans.

While pet owners are primarily at risk for flea infestations, these biting pests can also be brought onto a property via wild animals like raccoons or skunks and then make their way into a home.

The Dog flea and the Cat flea, which look very similar, are the most widespread and troublesome to household pests.

Did you know?

Measuring at about 3mm (1/8 inch) in length and usually brownish black to black, fleas are small flightless insects that live by consuming the blood of their hosts.

Fleas are the most common transmitter of the rare bubonic plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Additionally, fleas can transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets, which is why active flea management is an important component of pet care.

Fleas can be very frustrating for anyone to deal with, especially if there is a large infestation in your home or on your pets.

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Adult fleas are small, wingless insects with hard dark red or brownish black to black colored bodies.

The size of an adult flea is about 2.5-3 mm (1/8 inch) in length. They are laterally flattened in shape and have two antennae and six legs. Fleas do not possess wings, although their strong legs allow them to jump long distances (about 15 cm or 6” vertically). While they are a small pest, fleas can typically be seen with the naked eye. Adult fleas have bristles that point backward, which allows them to move swiftly through fur, hair, and feathers.

Fleas are bloodsuckers and transfer to new environments by latching onto mammals. Once inside, fleas usually hide in areas where pets and people sleep furniture, beds, and carpeting, as well as the cracks of hardwood floors.

Adult fleas live from a few to 14 days, during which time the females can produce up to 400-500 eggs in her lifetime. These pests transport themselves on rodents and other mammals, usually remaining on their hosts at all times.

  1. Fleas can leap up to 50 times their body length (about 15 cm or 6” vertically).
  2. On humans, flea bites are commonly found around the ankles or legs, as well as the waist, groin, armpits and in the skin folds of the elbows and knees.
  3. The Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is responsible for nearly all of the fleas found on both cats and dogs.

How do I recognize a flea?

Fleas are common external parasites of humans, animals, and birds. Fleas are small, dark red to dark brown, wingless insects, with stout legs for jumping and crawling. Fleas measure about 2.5-3 (1/8").

What are the signs of a flea infestation?

The most common sign of flea infestation in the home is scratching hair loss and red bumps. You may also notice small black flea feces scattered throughout pet beds, carpets, and rugs. Flea larvae are harder to find and are usually located in more secretive locations like behind furniture or inside the cracks of floors. These eggs are deposited on your pet by the female adult flea, allowing them to fall off of your pet as they move and dispersing them throughout the areas your pet lives in.

Where do you find fleas?

Fleas are parasites that feed on blood. They are found on the host (dog, cat, human, etc.) and in various household cracks and crevices, where they may shelter.

Are fleas hazardous to humans?

Yes. Fleas are a serious health hazard due to their bites and sucking blood of animals and human. They can transmit diseases like the bubonic plague, transmitted to humans from fleas living on rats.

Since the reaction to a flea bite is allergic, itching can be intense. Secondary infections can be caused by scratching, especially in children.

What causes fleas to bite?

Fleas feed on blood and are attracted by the host's exhaled carbon dioxide and body heat. In the case of the human flea, bites can be numerous because of interrupted feedings.

What causes a flea infestation?

Fleas hop from host to host, so even a brief encounter can cause you or your pet to become a host. Stray animals sleeping on porches or window sills can start an infestation. Once they enter the home, fleas spread rapidly.

What are their breeding habits? Do they multiply quickly?

The female flea lays several hundred eggs in her lifetime. Eggs are laid loosely on the host and are shaken off onto floors, carpets, bedding, or other sheltered spots. Eggs hatch in about 2 days (range 1-12 days) and become adults in one to several months or more. A flea infestation can number in the thousands.

Do fleas die off in cold months?

Yes. Outdoor infestations die off. However, once established inside the home, fleas are active year-round.

Can I do anything to prevent a flea infestation?

Yes. A quality flea shampoo on your pet during the peak summer season will help prevent an infestation.

How can I eliminate a flea infestation?

Your local Abell Pest Control branch has products and equipment specially formulated to control fleas. Flea control can be a difficult and time-consuming project. For fast, effective results, call Abell Pest Control.

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