How long can a flea live without a host? If I get rid of their feeding sources, will they die? Or should I call an exterminator?
If you’re asking these questions, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn more.
How Long Can Fleas Survive Without a Host?
Fleas can survive a relatively long time without a host. The exact lifespan without food depends on the stage of life.
For example, flea eggs can survive ten days without a host, but flea pupas can live five months alone.
Fleas and Their Hosts: An Overview
Fleas are wingless insects that use their mouths to pierce and suck the blood of their warm-blooded, mammalian hosts. Although they cannot fly, they’re excellent jumpers, making it easy for them to travel to a host. All living things need sustenance.
But some creatures – like fleas – can live for extended periods without eating. Because of their tenacity and excellent burrowing skills, you may have trouble eradicating these insidious parasites.
However, understanding fleas’ habits, life cycles, and lifespan without a host can help you keep your home free from fleas.
A Flea’s Lifespan With a Host
Fleas can live up to a year and a half in perfect circumstances with a healthy host and an ideal environment. It’s more common, however, for adult fleas to live for a few months on or near a food source and with an ambient temperature of around 85 degrees.
Although it may seem like fleas live exclusively on their hosts, they spend more time in the sleeping area and bedding of their chosen mammal, where they feed on organic matter (as well as blood).
A Flea’s Lifespan Without a Host
If they don’t have a host when they first hatch, fleas usually only survive for a few days as an adult.
However, some can live up to several months in a warm, humid environment even without feeding on blood. Once they’ve had a single meal, they can live for a few months without eating again.
Life Cycle of the Flea
We’ve mentioned that fleas can live up to a couple of months without a host, but that timeframe varies depending on the flea’s life stage. At certain stages, fleas can live for a shorter or longer period.
1. Flea Egg Stage
Once an adult flea has fed on blood for the first time, it will mate. The females lay up to eight eggs on the host’s fur. However, since the eggs are not sticky, they can fall off the host easily and land in nearby areas.
The eggs need a mammal host or a host’s warm bedding to hatch. If ten days pass and there isn’t a good host nearby, the eggs will simply die without hatching.
2. Flea Larva Stage
After hatching, the larvae emerge. They remain in this stage for up to two weeks if they have a source of food.
The larvae eat within just a few days after birth, but they don’t bite the host. In this stage, the fleas only feed on other fleas’ feces, not the hosts’ blood. With ideal conditions, flea larvae can survive this stage without a host.
3. Flea Pupa Stage
Within one to three weeks, the larva spins a cocoon and becomes a pupa. It’s difficult to remove and kill the pupa because the outer shell is initially very sticky, and resistant to vacuums and chemicals. It soon hardens its shell to become almost impenetrable.
Pupae can stay alive in their safe cocoon state for several months if there is no nearby host. A pupa remains in this state until it comes across a moving, breathing, warm-blooded creature.
The vibration and body heat of an animal signals to the pupa that it’s time to eat. At that point, it emerges from its cocoon and attaches to the unwitting host to feed.
4. Flea Feeding Stage
Although fleas generally prefer feeding on animals, they will attach to humans and nest in their beds if animals aren’t readily available. Immediately from birth, fleas have strong hind legs, which enable them to jump around to find ideal hosts.
As adults, they usually die if they don’t find a host within a few days, but they can live up to several months on their own body fat if the ambient temperature is adequate.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions about fleas, we have the answers for you!
Where Do Fleas Hide When Not on a Host?
The carpet is a popular hiding area for fleas since they have fibers similar to pet hair/fur. It can be challenging to remove fleas in the carpet since they like to burrow deep and stick themselves to the fibers.
Sofas, beds, and other soft furniture is another place where fleas like to live. If it has dark crevices, it’s going to be a flea hideout. Cats that jump on furniture can quickly spread fleas to all surface areas in a home, including shelves and the tops of appliances.
What Temperature Kills Fleas Not on a Host?
Adult fleas die when it’s hotter than 95°F and colder than 46.4°F. Flea eggs die when it’s colder than 55.4°F. However, if they’re attached to a mammal host, the eggs and adults can survive in freezing temperatures.
How Can I Prevent Fleas in My House?
People and pets often carry fleas in from outside. Any dirt that stays on shoes, animal fur, or clothes can bring in fleas. As such, keep your yard mowed and use a pest control product that kills fleas and their eggs.
For your dogs and cats, use flea shampoo on them as a preventative if you have issues with fleas in your yard. Vacuum carpets weekly if you have pets and wash their bedding in hot water regularly.
So, How Long Can Fleas Live Without Food?
In ideal conditions, fleas can live up to five months as adults or in a cocoon with no mammalian host. In their egg stage, they can only live for up to 10 days without a host.
The best way to get rid of fleas is to call an exterminator. And fortunately for you, we make it easy to find one! Simply click the green button above to be paired with a pest control pro.