Help! I Found Fleas in My Bed! How Do I Get Rid of Them?
Do you think you may have a flea infestation in your bed? Unfortunately, bites on your skin can come from mosquitoes, bed bugs, and yes, even fleas. They do bite humans and can even use them as a host. In this article, we examine how to identify if you have fleas in your bed (or something else) and how to remedy the problem.
Have you noticed a little itchiness around your ankles in the morning? Maybe you have some small red bumps around your ankles that itch or burn. Or, perhaps you noticed your pet scratching a lot more than usual. You probably don’t want to think about it, but you could have fleas.
What? Fleas in my bed? Yes, it’s possible. Fleas make their way into your home through a variety of different avenues. But the most common is your pets. If your pets have fleas and make their way onto your bed, then it’s quite possible you may be dealing with a flea infestation, and yes, they can also bite humans.
Hopefully, this article can help you determine if you have fleas in your bed and learn how to get rid of them for good! Let’s jump in and figure out how to get these pesky pests out of your bed!
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are small, flightless bugs that travel by jumping. There are several types of fleas, but the most common are cat fleas, which can affect domestic cats and dogs. Fleas prefer to feed on furry animals, but they can feed on humans if necessary.
Though they never grow much larger than the tip of a pen, they can travel between seven and twelve inches in a single jump. That makes the tiny nuisances quite mobile, which is highly problematic given their rapid reproduction cycle. Adult females can lay up to twenty-five eggs per day, and they live for up to a week.
Understanding the Flea Life Cycle
Regardless of the type of flea, they all go through four stages of development. Understanding how a flea develops provides insight into why infestations are so difficult to exterminate.
Flea eggs are visible to the naked eye. They look like small, translucent white granules that resemble dandruff. Eggs can hatch within two to three days, depending on the temperature and humidity. It’s important to note that flea eggs can survive up to twelve days without hatching.
When the eggs hatch, the larvae emerge to feed. They have a worm-like shape and appear translucent in color. However, as the larvae feed, their internal parts turn red. Flea larvae have mandibles for feeding.
Flea larvae progress through cycles and molt at each stage. They feed on adult flea feces and need to feed within three days to survive. This stage lasts from seven to eleven days, depending on the environment.
Flea Cocoons and Pupae
As flea larvae mature, they eventually enter the cocoon phase. In the cocoons, larvae become pupae. It takes two to three days to reach the pupal stage where the fleas remain for another week before molting into the adult phase. Fleas can survive in the cocoon stage for several months.
Adult fleas emerge from their cocoons and need to find a host to feed. Once fleas have a blood meal, they cannot live for more than four days without blood from a host animal.
The Trouble with Fleas
Fleas are notoriously difficult to eradicate from a home because of their short, but productive life cycles. Even more troublesome, fleas can survive for more than three months without a host animal to feed on. They hide in places you may not notice, like shoes in your closet.
The worst part about fleas is that they pose health and safety issues for humans and animals. Pets can have allergic reactions and suffer enough blood loss to develop anemia. Humans can also have allergic reactions to flea bites.
In humans, flea bites can also cause infections, especially if you itch the bites. They also spread human diseases, including the plague!
What Attracts Fleas?
How would you even get fleas? Pet owners know that fleas constantly threaten the health and safety of dogs, cats, and other furry family members. However, anybody can face a flea problem in their home under the right circumstances.
Fleas respond to visual and thermal input. They love warm, humid conditions and avoid the light. At some stages of the life cycle, specifically as egg and pupae, fleas can be ultra-sensitive to light and temperature fluctuations.
Even if you don’t have pets, you could pick up fleas anywhere outdoors, including your own backyard. Other animals, like raccoons, rodents, and neighborhood pets, can carry fleas into your yard. It’s a good idea to maintain your yard and handle problem areas that could attract fleas.
Bonus tip: fleas hate white surfaces, which incidentally make them easy to spot. If you go outside in a wooded area or to maintain your yard, try wearing white socks and pants so that you can see any fleas trying to hitch a ride on you!
From One to One Hundred
It doesn’t take much for one or two fleas to multiply into an infestation. Given that one adult female flea can lay more than one hundred eggs in a matter of days, you can have thousands within a few weeks. They love warm, humid areas, preferably in the shade, so beds and furniture are ideal hot spots for fleas.
Do Fleas Really Jump to Humans?
Most fleas prefer furry animals, like dogs and cats, but unfortunately, they do bite and live on humans. Remember, fleas can only survive for so long without a blood meal, so if they get desperate, they take what’s available.
There is one type of flea that prefers humans. The human flea, or house flea, is uncommon in industrialized countries, so it’s more likely to find cat or dog fleas. However, if you travel, it’s possible to pick them up and bring them back to your house. Some birds, wild animals, and farm animals also host human fleas and pass them to you.
Signs You Have Fleas in Your Bed
It’s hard not to feel a little itchy after reading about fleas, but that doesn’t mean you have them in your bed! Thankfully, the pesky critters aren’t invisible, and they leave plenty of signs behind at every stage of development. If you’re concerned about fleas in your bed or your house at all, look for these telltale signs.
You See Them
At every stage of life, you can see fleas with the naked eye. The most obvious indication is seeing the pests with your own two eyes. Look around the foot of your bed where sheets and blankets are least disrupted and there’s little to no light source.
Note: Pet owners may notice tapeworms (white or pinkish-white parasites that resemble small bits of rice) sliding out of your furry friend’s rectum. They are often indicators that your furry family member has a flea problem.
You Find Flea Dirt
“Flea dirt” is the common name for flea feces. It looks like somebody sprinkled pepper around the affected area. You may notice spots on your pet’s skin, in their bedding, on furniture, or on your bed sheets.
Bonus tip: Watch the carpeting for signs of flea dirt because eggs, larvae, and pupae love the safety and security of plush floor cover.
Itching and Scratching
You, your family members, or your pets can feel the itch from flea bites. It’s not pleasant, and you may not notice the itchiness as early as your pets, but it’s often the first indication of fleas.
Note: Excessive itching, scratching, and biting can lead to hair loss in pets.
If you notice a tendency to itch and scratch more than usual, look for signs of bites. Flea bites irritate the skin and present as red, raised bumps. They tend to have scabs and a lighter red halo around each bite. If there are several bites overlapping, the skin may look scaly.
On humans, the bites usually appear around the feet and ankles in a line or pattern. In pets, look at the skin on their back, neck, and base of the tail.
Getting Rid of FLeas From your Bed
Getting rid of fleas isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. It takes patience and a little effort on your part, but you probably prefer to be flea-free. Remember that flea infestations can take a few months to eradicate, so you will repeat most of these steps several times.
Treat Your Pets
Many pet owners probably already know the drill, but you have to treat your furry family members to start the process. Usually, you need to bathe your pet with a special shampoo that kills fleas.
Speak with your vet about a flea preventative. If you were using one prior to the infestation, you may need to discuss alternatives to protect your pet.
Address the Bedding
Collect all of the bedding, even if you don’t think it’s a problem. It’s better safe than sorry, and you know fleas can travel quite far. Wash everything in hot, soapy water. You may want to change your sheets daily until you stop noticing fresh bites. Make sure you launder your sheets and dry them thoroughly.
Vacuum Your Bed
Once you’ve treated your bedding, it’s important to vacuum your actual bed. Bonus points if you have a steam cleaner that you can use, as heat can kill fleas in their tracks. Make sure you do this as soon as you’ve identified the infestation.
While you can use some natural treatments like lemon spray, you likely don’t want to leave moisture in your bed or that could cause a hospitable environment for other common pests, like bed bugs.
Clean the Floors
Vacuuming carpets kills fleas at most life stages. To be safe, use a vacuum cleaner with a bag so that you can throw the bag away and make sure you remove all of the fleas. Make sure you vacuum several times per week until you no longer find evidence of fleas.
Don’t neglect the hardwood floors, linoleum, tile, or baseboards. Catch all of the nooks and crannies where fleas can hide. They avoid high-traffic walkways and stick to the edges where they think you can’t see them.
Bonus tip: try using a steam cleaner on carpets and upholstery. The extreme heat and soap are deadly to fleas at all life stages. Take extra care with areas where your pet naps and sleeps.
Try a Chemical Treatment
You may want to contact a professional, but it’s possible to apply an aerosol treatment yourself. Ensure the product you choose works for every life stage of a flea, not just the adults. Only use the treatment when nobody is home and be sure to wear protective gear, including gloves.
Home Remedy Alternatives
If you feel uncomfortable spraying chemicals in your home, you can try some home remedies to eliminate and repel fleas. There are several options, and many require common household ingredients.
Vinegar and Lemon Spray
This herbal spray works as a treatment and preventative. Mix equal parts vinegar and water (we suggest a gallon of each), sixteen fluid ounces of lemon juice, and around eight fluid ounces of witch hazel. Shake it well and apply after vacuuming.
Salt is safe for use around the house, unless you happen to be a flea. It essentially dries out the fleas, but salt is ineffective against flea larvae. Sprinkle the salt and let it sit for up to forty-eight hours before vacuuming.
Bonus tip: Diatomaceous Earth is a safe alternative made from fossils. It dries out fleas at all stages.
Once you go through the painstaking process of eradicating a flea infestation, it’s not something you want to do again. Thankfully, there are ways to help protect your pets, yard, and home from fleas.
For pets, it’s important to use a flea prevention treatment. You also may want to use a flea comb to check for fleas regularly (and keep your furry friend well-groomed).
Keeping Fleas Out of Your Yard
Many flea problems start in the yard, especially if you have pets that spend a lot of time outdoors. When you make your yard less hospitable for animals, you reduce your chances of attracting fleas and carrying them into your home.
- Mow your lawn regularly and remove overgrown areas. Weeds and tall grass attract wild animals, rodents, and even domestic animals, but they also make great hiding places for fleas.
- Drain standing water and correct drainage problems to prevent long-lasting puddles that could attract animals.
- Seal holes and hiding spots from rodents and other animals to keep them from tracking fleas into your home.
- Cover your outdoor trash so that wild animals cannot get into it. You don’t want to give them an excuse to spend time in your yard.
- Spread cedar chips to repel fleas.
- Purchase nematodes from your local gardening center. These small worms snack on parasite eggs and won’t harm your plants or pets.
- Consider a treatment for your lawn, it can be chemical or organic, but make sure it repels fleas and doesn’t harm the vegetation.
- Plant flea-repelling herbs, like rosemary.
Protect Your House from Fleas
Ridding your home of a flea infestation may leave you feeling hypervigilant for months, but there are steps you can take to repel fleas from your home. Aside from tending to your yard, you can take extra precautions in your home.
Vacuum, Vacuum, and Vacuum More
When you vacuum, you capture and kill flea eggs, larvae, and pupae, so it’s probably the most important thing you can do to prevent a flea infestation. Make sure you vacuum all carpeting, rugs, and upholstery to catch those pesky buggers.
Try vacuuming at least once per week. Don’t forget to change your vacuum’s bag frequently because fleas can live inside the bag.
Bonus tip: Do you have attachments for your vacuum? If so, it’s a good idea to pay special attention to baseboards, steps, and other areas your vacuum can’t reach but fleas can hide.
Wash Bedding Regularly
Be honest, how often do you normally wash your bedsheets? You may be more apt to wash them regularly after a flea infestation, and that’s an excellent idea. Not only will you remove any remnants of fleas or their offspring, but you also get fresh-smelling bedding for a better night’s sleep!
Use Essential Oils Around Your Home
Some essential oils repel fleas (and other pests) naturally and make your home smell incredible. The best part is that fleas haven’t built up an immunity to essential oils like they have with some pesticides, and you can safely use them in your home.
Create a spray with rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, or eucalyptus to spray around your house. You can even get creative and combine some of the scents (rosemary and lemongrass are particularly effective).
It’s not fun to think about a flea infestation, but it’s a common problem, especially for pet owners. Fleas are small but mighty irritating, and they reproduce so fast that it takes no time to spread through your home, and this, unfortunately, includes your bed. Hopefully, you gained enough insight from this article to combat the little fiends!
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