Fleas are tiny pests that feed on our beloved pets, and sometimes humans. They’re somewhat difficult to spot because of their small size: only 1/8 of an inch. Fleas can jump up to 8 inches vertically, which makes them slightly visible. They are flat on the sides and have backward facing spines on their bodies. Residential infestations grow when a flea latches onto a host, usually a dog or cat, and lays eggs that fall off as the pet wanders around the home. Fleas have the capability to live in carpets, laying eggs between the fibers. As eggs hatch, the problem spreads. You may not know fleas are in your home until you find them on your pet.

Why do I have fleas in my house?

Flea infestations begin when an animal brings them into the home. This can be a result of a pet, or could be coming from a wild mammal like squirrels, raccoons, and feral cats. Flea activity in your home can also be a sign of a rodent or wildlife issue. Dogs can pick up fleas from contact with other dogs that have fleas. They are excellent jumpers, making it easy for them to travel from host to host.

A common hiding place for fleas is rugs and carpeting. According to Flea Science, 83% of fleas develop deep within home carpeting. They burrow into the fibers where they can avoid light and low levels of humidity. Once larvae become adults, they jump onto a passing host such as your dog, which is when you begin to see the infestation. Without breaking the reproductive cycle, fighting a flea infestation is usually an uphill battle.

Are fleas dangerous?

Fleas can spread quickly since each female flea can between 400-800 eggs in her lifetime. They feed on the blood of their host which could easily be your pet or even your leg. Flea bites on humans tend to be around the feet, ankles, and lower legs, manifesting as red bumps surrounded by a halo shape. The bites can become very itchy and uncomfortable for both humans and pets.

When fleas choose your pet as a host, they are exposed to a variety of health problems such as tapeworms, anemia, and skin irritation leading to scratching and small exposed wounds. As fleas feed off of your pet, symptoms can progress and quickly become a greater health risk. If you find fleas on your pet, call your veterinarian immediately for help.

How do I get rid of fleas?

If you find evidence of fleas on your pet, call your veterinarian. They may suggest a flea dip as well as specialized shampoos to eliminate the current fleas. If you have fleas in your house, you can also lessen the problem by vacuuming. Target your pet’s favorite spots to lay or spend time. Vacuuming is a significant part of reducing flea populations indoors, but it will not completely solve the problem. Professional pest control is your best defense against flea infestations. There is little that you can do with store bought sprays and foggers to eliminate all of the fleas in your home once they have infested areas such as carpeting.

What Do It Yourself (DIY) options are available?

There is very little that you can do on your own to get rid of a flea infestation once it is established in your home because of the complexity of these infestations. The best “DIY” option is to use flea treatments for pets so that they don′t get fleas in the first place. Address rodent and wildlife infestations once you discover them or suspect they are in your home as quickly as possible to avoid the possible spread of fleas.