What Do Fleas Look Like?

Many pet owners complain about their pets and homes being infested by fleas. Amazingly, most of them have no idea what fleas look like. In fact, if asked to pick a flea from a group of other pests, only a handful are likely to get it right.

It is important to note that fleas have different appearances at each of their life stages; the egg, larva, pupae and adult flea. We shall therefore seek to identify fleas in each of these stages of their metamorphosis, for easier identification and successful elimination.

what do flea eggs look likeWhat Flea Eggs Look Like

Eggs are laid by an adult flea after a blood meal. In homes they are often found in carpets, pet bedding, and animal fur. Here are some of the characteristics of flea eggs:

  • Shiny appearance
  • White in color
  • Oval in shape
  • About 0.5mm in length
  • Look somewhat like sprinkles of salt
  • Non-sticky
  • Black specks are flea blood droppings, NOT eggs

what do flea larvae look likeWhat Flea Larvae Look Like

Flea eggs hatch after around one week into white, thread-like larvae. They will continue to live in the place where the eggs were laid, but will gravitate towards moist, dark areas. Here is what to look for when trying to detect flea larvae:

  • About 2.5mm long
  • 13 segments
  • White in color
  • Move similar to caterpillars
  • Black innards (red under microscope)
  • No eyes
  • Row of hair/bristles
  • Will avoid light
  • Will molt (shed skin) 3 times

what do flea cocoons look likeWhat Flea Pupae Look Like

Eventually flea larvae will spin a cocoon around them, this is known as the pupa. You will hardly see them, because they blend in well and do not move. Flea pupae can stay in this cocoon stage for up to twelve months. They will emerge when the temperature is right or when they sense a host nearby. Here is what they look like:

  • Around 2mm
  • White colored
  • Silky texture
  • Ball shaped
  • Sticky
  • Covered in debris from carpets
  • Almost completely camouflaged

what do adult fleas look likeWhat Adult Fleas Look Like

Eventually an adult flea will emerge from its pupal casing. Then it will head out into the environment looking for a blood meal. Hopefully it isn’t you! Here is what adult fleas look like:

  • 1mm-2.5mm in length
  • Six legs (three on each side of the thorax)
  • 2 long hind legs
  • Can jump long distances (200 times their own length)
  • brown or reddish brown color (depending on whether it fed on blood)
  • flattened body (before feeding)
  • shiny texture
  • hard exoskeleton
  • body is divided into the head, thorax, and abdomen
  • Do not have wings and cannot fly
  • Bodies are covered with hair
  • Strong mouth parts to pierce and draw blood

Related posts:

  1. Can People Get Fleas?
  2. What Attracts Fleas?
  3. How Long do Fleas Live?
  4. Where Do Fleas Come From
  5. Do Fleas Fly?