Can fleas live on clothes? The easy way to answer the question is no, but that’s a question that pops into many homeowners’ heads, especially when they have a pet with fur that’s become infested with these tiny parasites. Fleas are irritating pests, to be sure: Their itchy bites can cause serious health issues in animals, including dermatitis and anemia. These tiny bugs can even carry infectious diseases that affect humans, such as the plague.
No wonder finding a flea on your skin can make you shudder! So, then – where do fleas live? You might wonder whether your clothes or your bedding might be infested, or perhaps simply whether you can spread fleas through clothes. Another common question is, can fleas live on humans in general? Can fleas live on clothes? And, perhaps more importantly, how can you keep fleas from moving from one part of your property to another? Let’s find out more about these tiny creatures that can cause such big problems for animals and people alike – and whether you should call a specialist to get rid of them.
What You’ll Learn:
- Can Fleas Live On Humans?
- Can Fleas Live On Clothes Or Elsewhere In Your House?
- How Long Do Fleas Live In Your House?
- How Long Do Fleas Live?
- How To Get Rid Of Fleas In Your House
Can Fleas Live On Humans?
You’re likely wondering if you need to worry about fleas choosing you as a host in addition to your furry friend. First, let’s ask: how long do fleas live without a host? The answer, thankfully, is not long. Adult fleas need to spend nearly all their time on a living host so they can have frequent, easy access to the blood they feed on. More good news: humans aren’t well suited to their needs for the same reason. Human body hair simply isn’t dense or copious enough for us to make good long-term flea hosts (plus, most of us bathe too often!). For that reason, while you might pick up a flea or two—or ten—on your feet or ankles from the floor, it’s unlikely that the insects were actually living there. It’s far more likely they were simply hitchhikers that happened to leap onto you, perhaps even by accident. It’s also likely that, even if they bite you, they won’t stay on your body for long.
Can Fleas Live On Clothes Or Elsewhere In Your House?
For this reason, adult fleas won’t spend much time living on your clothing. Carpets are also not very good long-term homes for adult fleas, due to the lack of regular access to food. Fleas in other life stages, however, can live away from an animal host for quite some time, which means they can survive for longer periods of time in carpeted areas. Flea eggs and larvae can survive for anywhere from days up to several weeks on your carpet. Flea larvae, in particular, do very well in the moderate temperatures found indoors, and they can often find plenty of organic matter to feed on in carpeted areas, making these areas optimal for fleas to flourish.
How Long Do Fleas Live In Your House?
The average life cycle of a flea is about 100 days, but fleas’ lifespans can be quite variable. If conditions are favorable, these insects can even live indoors for up to a year! Outdoor fleas die off when winter temperatures reach near-freezing levels (more specifically, in the mid- to low-thirties Fahrenheit). This is why inside your home is such a tempting and hospitable spot for a flea to take up residence. Fleas thrive in warmth, and most people keep their homes heated in winter and cooled in summer. Unfortunately for homeowners and the experts they call for help, this makes our living areas and other spots in our houses optimal conditions for fleas in all their life stages to thrive.
How Long Do Fleas Live?
So, how long do fleas live? To address that question, it’s important to explore the complete life cycle of a flea.
Most people are familiar with adult fleas—the little black insects, about the size of a speck of pepper, that can jump several inches into the air and whose bites cause red, itchy spots on the skin. Adult fleas, however, are actually the final stage of four stages of a flea’s life cycle.
The first stage of a flea’s life cycle is the egg. Adult female fleas lay eggs while they are attached to their host, and they can be quite prolific in their egg-laying efforts: One female flea might produce 500 or more eggs in her lifetime. Once laid, flea eggs typically drop off their host, coming to rest wherever they happen to fall. Often, that’s deep among the fibers of a carpeted floor, or in the folds of the sofa where Fido or Fluffy naps every afternoon. Flea eggs actually don’t lie dormant for long; they typically hatch into larvae in less than two weeks, and sometimes within just a couple of days.
The second stage is the larval stage. Flea larvae feed on organic matter like adult flea waste. They prefer darkness to light, which is why they can often be found burrowed into pets’ bedding or in carpeted areas underneath furniture.
Fleas in the pupae stage can lie dormant for quite some time—anywhere from a week or so up to a full year, if conditions are right—before emerging from the cocoon as an adult flea, ready to feed, mate and lay eggs.
How To Get Rid Of Fleas In Your House
Have you ever heard the old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure? Whoever came up with that saying might well have been thinking of how to get rid of fleas in your house. It is much easier to prevent a flea infestation than it is to treat one—especially on your own.
This is because, when you’re facing a flea infestation, it’s likely that the insects aren’t just infesting your pet’s fur. If your pet spends any time indoors, whether in a kennel or curled up in a favorite spot, such as a rug or corner of the couch, you’ve almost certainly got fleas indoors as well. You might occasionally encounter adult fleas in your home, but it’s even more likely that flea eggs have transferred from their animal host to your carpet or the recesses of your sofa. Similarly, you might not realize you have flea larvae living in the dark recesses of your furniture, carpet or pet’s bedding.
The same is true of your outdoor living space: If your flea-ridden pet spends time outside, it’s almost a given that you’ve got a flea problem outdoors as well. In fact, it’s likely that your pet picked up the fleas from the yard in the first place. Fleas love to infest wild animal hosts like squirrels, rats and raccoons, which then transfer the pests to household animals. Furthermore, fleas can thrive away from their warm, delicious animal hosts for surprisingly long periods of time, surviving for weeks or even months in areas of your yard that are warm, damp and preferably shaded.
This is why, when you do have a flea infestation, it’s so important to treat not just your pet, but also your home and your outdoor living areas at the same time. If you don’t treat all three at once, you might have a problem that keeps coming back again and again—because it was never really gone in the first place.
There are several steps you can take to address a flea problem at home. These include bathing pets on a regular basis, preferably at least once a week, and also laundering their bedding on the same schedule (in the hottest water available); keeping up with your pets’ anti-flea medications and other home remedies, administering them as directed by your veterinarian or the product instructions and regularly washing rugs or furniture covers where household animals nap or otherwise spend time (also in the hottest water possible).
When you or a specialist are dealing with a flea infestation, it is also very helpful to keep your home clean, including vacuuming on a regular basis. Carpeted areas especially should be vacuumed often in order to prevent flea eggs from surviving and hatching into larvae. A periodic steam-cleaning of carpeted areas will be even more effective at eliminating flea eggs and larvae. Carpeted areas aren’t the only type of flooring where flea eggs can survive, however; they can also survive in the cracks between planks in hardwood flooring, so it’s important to clean all floors and baseboards regularly and thoroughly.
Finally, to keep flea problems both in the home and in outdoor areas at bay, anti-flea products like diatomaceous earth or various chemical treatments available at your local hardware store can be very helpful. Of course, specialists will have these on hand. It’s also important to keep shrubs trimmed and rake away dead leaves in order to limit the outdoor areas where fleas might make a home.
Fleas Are No Match For ABC
Although fleas won’t spend much time on your clothes, they can become a nuisance if they infest your home. When it comes to a full-on flea infestation, homeowners often find that their best efforts at DIY pest control are not effective. If this happens to you, it may be time to call in the professionals, since an anti-flea treatment that is administered by a qualified professional is the single most effective method of treating a flea infestation. Fortunately, the pest control specialists at ABC Home & Commercial Services can help. We will work with you to assess your particular problem and develop an individualized plan to eliminate fleas in all their life stages from your indoor and outdoor living areas. You can also rely on our regular maintenance visits, including lawn treatments, to keep your home, yard and beloved pets flea-free.