Fleas are one of the most common problems that pet owners face, and can be one of the most distressing for both owner and pet. A flea infestation causes animals misery with itching and discomfort, while fleas around the home are not only irritating but can also cause bites and misery for homeowners. To get rid of a flea infestation, it is important to how how long fleas live as understanding their life cycle is key to eradicating them.
The Life Cycle Of A Flea
Fleas have a four stage life cycle, beginning as an egg, before progressing through the larva and pupa stage before developing into an adult flea (or imago). In order to reproduce and lay new eggs, an adult flea must first feed on blood. At any one time, the flea population is made up of 50% eggs and only 5% adult fleas with 35% being larvae and 10% pupae.
Females lay their eggs after feeding on blood in batches of around 20 at one time. Usually, these eggs are laid onto the host animal, although some may fall off and land in the household environment around the animal’s sleeping area. Eggs take between 2 days and 2 weeks to hatch. When the larvae hatch from the eggs they survive on a range of foodstuffs from feces and blood to dog food and nonviable eggs. At this point in their development, larvae live in crevices, cracks and bedding. After a week or so, they will spin a cocoon and enter their pupa state and they will emerge a couple of weeks later as an adult flea when they will wait for a viable host to appear. Once an adult flea finds a suitable host, it will latch on and live on the blood of its host.
How Long Do Fleas Live?
An adult flea can survive for a surprisingly long time on a host. In fact, in the right conditions, a flea can survive for up to 18 months, with females laying a phenomenal 5000 eggs during its lifetime, so it is easy to see how homes can quickly become severely infested. Luckily, quite frequently the conditions are not ideal with the wrong humidity, temperature or low food supply, but even so, adult fleas can still survive for an average of 2 to three months, or around 100 days. Even without any blood food supply, it is still possible for an adult flea to survive for quite a long period. Although newly emerged fleas can only survive for about a week without a blood source, a fully developed adult flea can manage to live for several months without food when they remain in their puparia.
Even if a pet is treated for a flea infestation with an appropriate flea spray, tablet or spot on application, it is still important to treat the home environment too. When you think about the life cycle of a flea you will be able to see that there could be fleas at any stage of their development living in your home, and eggs could hatch at any time causing a brand new infestation. It is therefore important to use a household treatment product as well as a treatment for your pet to clear up the problem.