Understanding the flea life cycle and how to kill fleas

Understanding the flea life cycle is the first step in successful flea control. Whether you’re fighting an active flea infestation or protecting your pet and your home from fleas. Most pet owners know to be on the lookout for adult fleas and treat their pets to stop them becoming infested. But, many pet owners are unaware of the other stages of a flea’s life cycle; the eggs, larvae and pupae. 

the flea life cycle

The Adult Flea

The female flea is a prolific egg layer, on average producing up to 50 eggs per day.

Adult fleas don’t live long on your pet as they are usually groomed out after 7–14 days. However, on older or more obese animals who cannot groom as well, adults fleas could remain for 2–3 months. If your pet is left untreated or a flea treatment is missed, this gives ample opportunity for a flea infestation to develop.

Flea Eggs

Flea eggs are small, white and oval shaped. They have shiny shells so quickly fall from the coat and land wherever your pet is. This could be your sofa, bed or carpet – anywhere in your home.

Flea eggs will usually hatch after 5–10 days depending on temperature and humidity.

Flea Larvae

The flea eggs hatch into larvae, which feed on shed skin cells (from pets and people) and ‘flea dirt’ (flea faeces) from adult fleas. The latter, consisting of mainly dried blood, is a good source of protein for the developing flea larvae.

Flea Pupae

Flea pupae are particularly troublesome.

Most flea pupae hatch after four days, but they can survive for over 140 days until the most beneficial circumstances arrive. This could be when a host animal walks by, or even in the winter when you turn your central heating on.

While in the pupal cocoon, flea pupae cannot be killed by any insecticides.

How to get rid of fleas, flea eggs and flea larvae

flea life stages pyramid

To get rid of adult fleas, flea eggs and flea larvae you need to make sure you’re using the right product. You also need to make sure you’re protecting both your pet and your home. Consider if you’re treating an active flea infestation or preventing future infestations.

Because the flea eggs, flea larvae and flea pupae all live in the environment, this means 95% of a flea infestation is in your home. Only 5% is on your pet; the adult fleas.

To provide complete protection for your pet and your home, your flea treatments need to include two ingredients:

  • an insecticide to kill the adult fleas
  • an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) which targets flea eggs and flea larvae

Most on-animal flea treatments contain insecticides to kill adult fleas. If dealing with an active flea infestation, these need to be used with a household flea treatment containing an IGR for complete protection. For example, you may wish to use Beaphar FIPROtec® Spot-On , which kills adult fleas on cats and dogs, and Beaphar FLEAtec Household Flea Spray, which contains an IGR and an insecticide.

However, there are also combination on-animal flea treatments. Combination on-animal flea treatments contain both an insecticide and an IGR. This means they can kill adult fleas on your pet, and prevent flea eggs and flea larvae developing in the home. An example is Beaphar FIPROtec® COMBO , which is available for either cats or dogs. Find out more about Beaphar FIPROtec® COMBO and how it works here

Both options, when the products are used correctly, will provide effective protection against fleas. However, if you’re treating an ACTIVE flea infestation we’d ALWAYS recommend using a household flea treatment, such as Beaphar FLEAtec Household Flea Spray, alongside your on-animal flea treatment.

If you’d like a more detailed guide on fighting an active flea infestation, check out our 5-step plan.

How to get rid of flea pupae

Unfortunately, there is no flea treatment that can kill flea pupae. Because they can lie dormant for months, you can get an unexpected flea infestation if you miss a flea treatment.

The only way to get rid of flea pupae is to treat the home with a household flea treatment and then encourage them to hatch. Once the pupae have hatched into adult fleas, they will then be killed by the insecticide in the household flea treatment that you have used.

Before treating your home with a household flea treatment, we recommend vacuuming. This creates vibrations, which stimulate the flea pupae to hatch. Continue to vacuum regularly and use your household flea treatment as instructed until the problem is resolved. And don’t forget to continue your pet’s flea treatment routine as instructed on those products as well.

How to tell if your cat or dog has fleas?

The most common signs of fleas in cats and dogs is scratching or black specs on their fur or bed. If you notice either of these, you should check your petfor fleas immediately.

Check out our blogs for more signs and symptoms of fleas to look out for in cats and dogs.

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  pet types : Cat Dog Fleas

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