Fleas are a veterinary practice’s worst nightmare. The flea life cycle is extremely speedy, and once these tiny pests start to breed, you’ve got a huge problem on your hands.

Below, learn everything you need to know about each flea life cycle stage, from eggs and larvae to adult fleas.

What Is the Flea Life Cycle?

The circle of life is a beautiful thing, except for when fleas are involved. These bloodsucking critters can go from egg to adult fleas in as little as a couple of weeks in the right environmental conditions. Once adult fleas emerge, the life cycle starts all over again. Ten fleas can turn into hundreds in under a month, and once that happens, you’ll have a tough time eradicating the entire flea population.

The flea life cycle has four stages. It begins when adult fleas lay eggs on their hosts, such as dogs and cats. Flea eggs hatch into flea larvae and fall off the host animal. Flea larvae feed on organic debris for up to two weeks. At the end of the larval stage, the larvae enter a protective cocoon. This is called the pupal stage.

Flea pupae emerge from their cocoons as adult fleas when they sense a passing host and blood meal. The adult fleas jump to a host and feed. If an adult female flea lays eggs on the host, the flea life cycle starts anew.

Understanding the stages of the flea life cycle is critical for medical practices, particularly those that serve our four-legged friends. This information will help you choose pest control methods that keep flea infestations at bay.

Flea Life Cycle Stages

Egg Stage

The flea life cycle starts when adult female fleas begin laying eggs on a host animal. Eggs can also end up in carpet fibers and pet bedding. A single flea can lay about 20 eggs each day and up to 600 per month. So if an animal has 60 female fleas, those adult fleas can lay a whopping 36,000 eggs each month.

Flea eggs are white and very tiny (a bit smaller than a grain of sand), so they’re nearly impossible to see with the naked eye. In order to hatch, flea eggs need the right temperature and humidity. If it’s hot and humid, the eggs will hatch quickly. If it’s too cold, they’ll remain dormant.

Larvae Stage

When flea larvae hatch, they’re blind, legless, nearly see-through, and about one quarter-inch long. For the first few weeks of life, flea larvae will feed on flea dirt, which is a mixture of waste, dead skin, and pre-digested blood. This mixture will serve as nutrition until the newly hatched flea larvae can have their first blood meal.

Pupa Stage

After about five to 20 days, larvae spin themselves into protective cocoons. These cocoons have a sticky coating that allows them to hold tight to pet fur and carpet.

Flea pupae typically stay in their cocoons for a few days to several weeks, only emerging when they sense signs of a potential host.

Adult Stage

The adult life stage begins when fleas emerge from their cocoons. An adult flea feeds on blood meals taken from its host. To feed, the adult flea bites the animal and sucks out a small amount of blood. A female flea can’t lay any eggs until she has fed.

An adult flea has very powerful hind legs and can jump incredible distances of up to eight inches in a single bound.

Flea Lifespan

Factors Affecting Flea Lifespan

Fleas will not hatch without a host. If no food supply is present, they can stay in the pupae stage for up to a year.

Environmental conditions affect fleas as well. Fleas die if the soil temperature is hotter than 95 degrees or if the humidity drops below 45%.

How Long Do Fleas Live Without a Host?

Although flea pupae can live without food for a year, adult fleas must feed more frequently. Most fleas in the adult stage will die within two weeks without access to a host.

Implications for Veterinary Practices

Impact on Patients and Staff

Fleas are bad enough in your own home, but in a practice that sees dozens of patients daily, there’s a possibility of a major flea infestation. In a vet practice, one adult flea can lay flea eggs on every animal that walks through the door. Without proper treatment, the flea population can balloon out of control. This is problematic because bites can trigger allergic reactions, and in some cases, spread diseases.

Preventative Measures

To prevent and eliminate fleas:

  • Understand the life cycle of a flea and buy appropriate medication for animals; look for a product that kills adult fleas, larvae, and eggs
  • Treat infected animals every 30 days to kill all remaining fleas and prevent new hatches
  • Set sticky traps around your practice to attract fleas and capture them
  • Wash animal bedding in hot water to kill eggs
  • Vacuum floors regularly and dispose of the bag in a sealed container to prevent adults from escaping
  • Call a pest control company if you’re having trouble controlling an infestation

Weave Solutions for Veterinary Practices

Integration of Weave Products

With Weave, you can send patients reminders to help them prevent fleas and keep the flea population in check. Your customers will thank you!

Benefits for Medical Practices

Other great features of Weave include:

Take Your Vet Practice to the Next Level With Weave

Now that you’ve learned about the stages of the flea life cycle and how to treat fleas, why not give Weave a try? Whether you treat human patients or four-legged friends, it’s a must-have for your practice. Get your free demo of Weave now.

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