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Fleas

In addition to the itchy bites, fleas can also transmit diseases and possibly affect you and your pet's health if they are not controlled. Fleas live and feed on the skin of animals all over the world. Fleas are small (1/13 - 1/8 inches long; 1 - 3 mm), wingless insects with flattened bodies that are dark brown. Their small flat bodies allow them to move through body hair where they bite and suck the blood of their host. Only adult fleas bite their hosts. Female fleas can lay 30-50 eggs per day on their host and many of the eggs can fall off of the pet and end up in the carpet, furniture, pet bedding, or other locations. They hatch into flea larvae in about a week. After feeding on dried blood left behind by the adults, the larvae spin a cocoon and change into adults. That is why it's important to focus on both the pet and the living environment when controlling fleas.

Control tips:

  • Be sure to read and follow all label directions on any pesticide product you may use.
  • Monitor and control fleas on your pet(s). Otherwise they will carry new fleas into your home. Consider talking to your veterinarian about flea control methods that are best for your animal. Many dog products cannot be used on cats.
  • Consider using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach including regular vacuuming to remove food, larvae and eggs, washing fabrics and bedding in hot water and targeted treatments with insecticides containing insect growth regulators.
  • Avoid using home remedies as most have not been found to be effective at controlling fleas in homes.
  • For information about the effectiveness of foggers, also known as "bug bombs", see the resource below entitled, "Integrated Flea Control" by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service.
  • Treat outside your home only if you have heavily infested areas. Check shaded areas where your pets frequently lay outside for fleas.
  • Learn more about controlling fleas by reading more about them in the links provided below.
  • Your local cooperative extension service can provide information on the types of fleas in the area, help with identification and often provide fact sheets on local flea control methods.

If you are unable to locate your county extension office, or you have questions about the product(s) you are considering, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated January 27, 2017

Fleas

  • Identify the pest. Are you sure you're dealing with fleas?
  • Groom pets with a flea comb regularly. Dispose of fleas in soapy water.
  • Vacuum carpets, pet areas, and baseboard crevices. Vacuum underneath furniture, cushions, and beds. Flea eggs fall from their hosts.
  • Sprinkle cornstarch before vacuuming to kill fleas in the bag. You could also freeze the vacuum bag, or dispose of it promptly outside.
  • Where do your pets sleep? Wash and dry their bedding regularly using high heat.
  • Steam-clean carpets or upholstered furniture to kill fleas and their young.
  • Remove debris and keep vegetation low in your yard. Sunlight can kill young fleas by drying them out.
  • Especially if you don't have pets, identify the flea species. Rodents and wildlife can bring fleas into your home. The flea species may tell you about unknown invaders in your attic or crawlspace.

If you choose to use a pesticide, read the label before you buy. Try a lower toxicity product first.

If you have a pesticide product in mind, have your label handy and click here for information about that product.

County Extension Offices

Through its county agents, the Cooperative Extension Service gives individuals access to the resources at land-grant universities across the nation. These universities are centers for research in many subjects, including entomology (the study of insects) and agriculture. Each county within the United States has an Extension office, which is staffed with agents who work closely with university-based Extension specialists to deliver answers to your questions about gardening, agriculture, and pest control. You can find the phone number for your local county extension office in the local government section (often marked with blue pages) of your telephone directory or by clicking on the map below.

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U.S. States:

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U.S. Territories:

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Additional Resources:

Related Topics:

What are pests?

Learn about a pest

Identify a pest

Control a pest

Integrated Pest Management

What are pesticides?

Herbicides

Disinfectants

Fungicides

Insecticides

Natural and Biological Pesticides

Repellents

Rodenticides

Other types of pesticides

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