After fleas get into homes, they get will be concentrated in hot spots that they are attracted to. Knowing what attracts fleas can help us understand how to control them. With the right information you can make flea traps, stop fleas from biting, and target the right areas to use insecticides on.
Different stages of the flea life cycle are attracted to different factors, which we will go into detail below.
What Attracts Adult Fleas?
Adult fleas are mainly only interested in finding a food source, which means a blood meal. They are well adapted for detecting certain things that let them know a warm-blooded mammal is nearby. Flea traps work by manipulating adult fleas with some of these factors.
There are thousands of different species of fleas, and each is specially adapted to target different hosts. For example human fleas target humans, dog fleas target dogs, and rat fleas target rats. Specific flea species are attracted to scents of different animals.
Fleas can detect carbon dioxide in the air. This is the gas that humans and animals breathe out. Higher concentrations of CO2 gas lets fleas know a host is nearby.
Warmth from body heat will also attract fleas. This lets fleas know a warm-blooded animal is close to them, and they can almost taste the blood! Plus, fleas can only survive in temperatures are between 15°C and 30°C (59°F and 86°F). Lamps are used in flea traps which produces heat to attract fleas.
Proper development of fleas from egg to adulthood will only occur if humidity levels are between 70% and 95% relative humidity. So they will seek out these optimal breeding conditions.
Fleas can easily see dark moving objects on light backgrounds. Combined with other senses, fleas can know exactly where a host is located for a blood meal.
Light is well known to attract insects of all kinds, and fleas are no different. However, fleas are most sensitive yellow and green light. Flea traps emit light to attract fleas.
What Attracts Flea Pupae (cocoons)
Flea cocoons are often found in carpets. They will not hatch open into adult fleas until they sense a host is nearby. There are some environmental factors that they will for wait for. If they do not detect these things, they can stay dormant for up to a year.
Fleas will quickly come out of their cocoons when strong enough vibrations occur around them. The pupae know that these vibrations most likely come from people or animals walking around. They know a blood meal is nearby.
The flea cocoons will also open up if there are high concentrations of carbon dioxide nearby. This could be caused by a dog breathing heavy on the floor where there are flea pupae nearby.
Fleas cocoons can also detect warmth around them. Going back to the example of the dog laying on the floor, the cocoons could be heating up underneath the dog. The adults will emerge and begin feeding.
Pressure & Weight
Lets go back to the dog on the floor one more time! Flea pupae can feel pressure on top of them, and will come out when they sense it. This can also be a result of being walked on.
What Attracts Flea Larvae
Adult fleas will lay eggs in optimal environments for their babies to thrive in. For this reason the larvae do not have much work to do when it comes to seeking shelter and food. There are a few things they like though.
The flea larvae are blind when they hatch from eggs. However, they are able to sense light, and will quickly turn away from it. They will mostly be attracted to dark places. This can be deep in carpet fibers, in cracks, or in bedding.
Larvae usually hatch into an almost unlimited food supply. They will eat organic matter like dead insects, feces, vegetable matter and dust. However, if there is no food around, they will seek it out.
Flea Breeding Grounds in Homes
The most common breeding area for fleas is the carpeting. Female fleas like to lay their eggs here because they will be protected from potential danger, it is a largely undisturbed area, and it provides camouflage.The bottom of carpets and rugs is rarely ruffled and it provides a safe haven. Carpets also provide fleas with a warm environment that suits all their life stages from egg to adulthood. Finally, carpets have unlimited amounts of food for larvae.
Learn how to get rid of fleas in carpets.
Flea Breeding Grounds Outside
Outside fleas live in dark damp locations. Fleas will also often be found in areas where your pets hang out at. Shaded areas under bushes and trees are common places, because pets and fleas both love these areas. You will also find fleas in tall grass, along fence lines, in piles of debris, and near building walls.
Learn how to get rid of fleas in your yard.