What are Fleas?

Fleas (Order Siphonaptera) are small, wingless pests that are commonly found on pets and hairy animals, and are a huge concern for pet owners. A flea infestation can grow quickly, making you feel as though it came out of nowhere, which is why it is important to treat the sighting seriously and immediately.

Through the late 1980′s, flea problems began increasing annually in Ontario. Fortunately, that trend did not continue in the early 1990′s and flea populations have been highly variable from year to year and place to place. It is anticipated that flea problems will again become severe and more difficult to control. As with the rise in bed bugs, it is believed that fleas will also increase in severity in the upcoming years. The lack of residual insecticides available and the resistance to common products is most likely the cause.

The cat flea is the most common flea in North America, but the dog, human and oriental rat fleas have also been found.

If you find fleas in your home, call us. We know how to kill fleas in your home.

A common flea


What do Fleas Look Like?

Fleas have shiny, reddish brown bodies and are 2.5 mm long.

They have microscopic hair on their bodies, with a compressed appearance, making it easy to flow through animal’s fur.


What do Fleas Eat?

Fleas are parasites that draw blood from a host. When the fleas are larvae, they feed on organic debris, which is usually feces from adult fleas, as it contains undigested blood. Fleas commonly prefer to feed on hairy animals such as:

  • dogs
  • cats
  • rabbits
  • squirrels
  • rats
  • mice
  • domesticated animals
  • wild animals


The Lifecycle of a Flea

The life cycle (or stages) of a flea are: egg, larval, pupae and adult. The cycle lengths vary from several weeks to several months, and are very dependent on environmental factors.

Fleas lay between four to eight eggs after feeding, with the highest concentration of eggs being laid within the first few days. Flea eggs hatch into larvae within one to twelve days.

Flea larvae are semi-transparent white in colour, with an appearance similar to a maggot. They are typically 3 to 5 mm long. Their body turns progressively darker as the larvae feeds on feces excreted by the adult fleas. Other than feces, larvae will feed on various types of organic matter such as food particles, dead skin, dead insects and feathers. Flea larvae do not take a blood meal directly from a host, unlike adult fleas. The larvae stage lasts four to eighteen days, upon which the larvae spin silken cocoons and enter the pupae stage.

Larvae seek out hidden cracks in the floor, in carpets, pet bedding or under furniture, and their survival is dependent upon humidity. Controlling flea larvae involves using vacuums to remove, use of insect growth regulators and dust formulations that cause desiccation of the larvae.

Adult fleas begin searching for food once they reach adult stage, but they require warmer temperatures to thrive and survive. Fleas are known for their jumping abilities, but remain stationary once they find a host. Adult females lay eggs within forty-eight hours of their first feeding, thus causing the life cycle to repeat itself once again.


Do Fleas Bite?

Yes, fleas bite. Fleas require a host to survive by sucking the blood from their victims. Fleas are typically found on animals, but are also known to bite the feet and legs of humans. Bites from fleas are red spots that typically have a halo around them. They are extremely itchy and uncomfortable. Fortunately, flea bites pose no threat to humans or pets, but they can be carriers of various forms of bacteria and can transmit tapeworms.


Do Fleas Cause Damage?

Fortunately, fleas do not cause damage to a home and are more of a nuisance.


Fleas in Homes and Businesses

Flea infestations occur mainly due to an infested pet. As such, fleas are commonly found in homes, but businesses are not immune to the wrath of fleas, and it doesn't have to be a veterinarian clinic or a pet store for an infestation to start. Fleas can be introduced to an office by an employee or customer bringing in their infested pet for a visit.


How Does a Flea Infestation Happen?

Discovering fleas can be unsettling. You may wonder if there are fleas in your home due to the cleanliness of your home, but that is not true. Usually a flea infestation happens to people who have pets, but it can happen to anyone.

Fleas are dependent on animal hosts to survive, so fleas can get into a home through pets or other animals. If you have mice in your home, fleas can use a mouse as a host, and either transfer to a pet or infest your home through a mouse. It is important to seal cracks, gaps and holes to prevent rodents or other potential hosts from gaining access into the home and keep fleas outside.


Signs of a Flea Infestation

There are three key signs of a flea infestation:


  • Scratching is the most common indication that there are fleas present among your pets.
  • Consistent scratching or grooming is a sign there may be fleas present, as fleas draw blood from pets, causing itching.


  • Finding bites on your ankles or your legs could be a sign that there are fleas present.
  • However, there are a variety of factors that can cause skin irritations, so it is best to check with a doctor if you are unsure.
  • Flea bites can be extremely uncomfortable, and very tempting to try to relieve the itching by scratching. Try to resist the urge to scratch by helping to reduce the irritation through:
    • Washing the bites with soap and warm water.
    • Using an antiseptic and apply an ice pack.
    • Applying lotions.

3. Feces

  • Flea dirt (which is fecal matter created by adult fleas) is a sign that there are fleas present in your home or business.
  • Flea dirt resembles the appearance of coarse black pepper, and can be found mainly in pet beds, carpets and rugs.


How to Get Rid of Fleas

Getting rid of fleas can be a difficult task, depending on how many fleas are in your home. If you would describe your infestation as “light,” fleas can be eliminated by using a vacuum to get rid of fleas. Moderate to heavy infestations may require insecticides or treatment by pest control professional who specializes in fleas.

The best way to get rid of fleas is to implement a multifaceted plan. Simply treating your pets or vacuuming the area will be ineffective in getting rid of fleas for good.


How to Kill Fleas

If you find fleas in your home or business, it’s natural to want to know what kills fleas quickly and effectively.

Step 1: Treating Your Pets

As fleas commonly enter a building through a dog or a cat, that is the first step in flea elimination. Insecticides approved for direct application to pets in the form of spot treatments, dips, dusts, sprays, or shampoos are available at most stores. You can also speak with your veterinarian for any recommended products.

Step 2: Treating Your Home or Business

After treating your pet for fleas, the next step is to turn your attention to your home business. Pay attention to the areas where your pets frequent or have occupied recently. Any blankets or rugs that may be used as pet bedding should be discarded or laundered in hot, soapy water. All carpeted areas and upholstered furniture should be thoroughly vacuumed, and the sweeper bag contents discarded.

Step 3: Assess The Situation

In some cases, you can get rid of fleas on your own. If after you have discarded or washed the infested items, vacuumed, and treated you pets, you inspect the area, and still find fleas, help from a flea pest control professional is needed.


If a flea infestation is quite large, it is often more difficult to eliminate on your own. If this is the case, do call upon a licensed exterminator for fleas, like Environmental Pest Control. We been providing expert flea pest control service since 1988.

Call 1 (800) 263-5055

Our Professional Team is Happy to Help!