Quick Flea Facts

If you own a dog or cat, you may experience a flea problem at some point. What you don’t know about fleas could harm you and your pet. Get the flea facts and keep your pet and home safe.

What is a Flea?

  • Flea Facts - close up of a flea in animal fur

    There are many types of fleas, with the cat flea being the most common.

    Fleas are parasites that need to feed off a host’s blood to stay alive.

  • There are several types of fleas in the world that feed on different animals.
  • The most common is the cat flea. But don’t let the name fool you - cat fleas bite cats, dogs and people, too.

What Does a Flea Look Like?

  • Fleas are small (about 2 mm long), brown, wingless insects
  • They have laterally compressed bodies that allow them to move swiftly through fur.
  • Their legs are adapted for jumping and grasping onto their host.
  • Fleas can jump vertically up to seven inches and horizontally thirteen inches.

Why Do Fleas Bite?

  • Flea Facts - Fleas and flea dirt in dog hair.

    Fleas feed on blood and excrete dark, fecal pellets called "flea dirt."

    Fleas feed on blood, digesting only small amounts, and excreting the remainder as small, dark, fecal pellets called “flea dirt.”

  • Adult fleas require a blood meal, so all flea life stages usually occur in the vicinity of the host.
  • A hosted adult can survive up to two months.
  • Without a blood meal, adult fleas will die in a few days.
  • Fleas live outdoors but will easily survive inside your home.

The Flea Life Cycle

  • The flea goes through four life stages: egg, larvae, pupae and adult.
  • Female fleas start producing eggs within 24 to 48 hours after taking their first blood meal and can lay up to 40 to 50 eggs per day.
  • Flea Facts - Diagram showing life cycle of flea

    The flea life cycle can last from a few months up to a year.

    In just 30 days, 10 female fleas can multiply to over a quarter million new fleas in different life stages.

  • Optimum conditions for flea larvae are 65-80 ºF with shaded areas and high humidity.
  • Flea pupae can lie dormant for many months or can change into adult fleas in as few as 5 days.
  • The flea life cycle lasts from a few months up to a year, depending on environmental conditions.
  • Only adult fleas bite, but a home flea infestation will keep producing adults until measures are taken to break the flea life cycle. Learn how you can prevent flea infestations from happening in the first place.
Hartz Nature's Shield Flea and Tick Dog Spray
Hartz® UltraGuard Pro® Flea & Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens