Are Fleas Active in Winter?

Fleas are a regular annoyance if you’ve got furry friends in your household. They cause the most trouble during the warm months, but what about the cold months?

Are fleas active in winter? Yes, fleas remain active during the winter, though they slow down.

Here are the basics:

  • Yes, fleas are active during winter, but the cold slows down their life cycle
  • Fleas are a risk to both you and your pet
  • Proper flea prevention should be an all-year-round priority

During winter, the temperatures are cold, and most people spend their time indoors along with their pets to keep warm. For fleas, too, winter signals that it’s a time to look for a warm place to feast and dwell. Most of the time, they will attach themselves to animals (or humans). 

We’ll explain it all below.


Fleas Life Cycle in Winter

Image Source: CDC

Fleas are parasitic, opportunistic pests that attach to appropriate hosts and latch on for as long as possible. These little creatures can bring discomfort to your pets, home, and to you.

Fleas will typically get into your home by hitching a ride on a pet or a person.

Fleas are parasitic, opportunistic pests.

Flea bites leave hard, itchy, red welts on pets’ and human skin, which can sometimes be painful. Your pet can also contract anemia and tapeworms from flea bites. 

Fleas are most active at temperatures around 75° Fahrenheit, and as the temperatures drop to around 50°F, they cocoon for months in a dormant state. However, be alert because not all fleas will die off in winter!

You can’t just ignore them and let the cold do its thing. Some fleas will survive.

Some cling to warm animals (particularly dogs, cats, and kittens) where the body heat generated keeps them alive. Furthermore, if fleas are indoors where the house is heated, they will thrive and continue to reproduce.

The life cycle of adult fleas is short and spans around three months. During this short period, the adult flea can lay hundreds of eggs that will grow into adult fleas, lay more eggs, and sustain the cycle. In the cold winter, many fleas, together with the eggs that were laid, die as no flea is adapted to survive freezing conditions. 

Moments after attaching to a host, a female flea will suck your pet’s blood and start mating and reproducing eggs within 36 hours. One female can lay as many as 50 eggs a day for a period of over three months.

The eggs laid on your pet will fall off to the surrounding environment, and most deposits will occur where the infested pet lies the most, either on furniture, the carpets, or bedding. 

Flea larvae have a maggot-like resemblance when they hatch from the eggs. They feed on the remaining semi-digested blood present in the feces of adult fleas.

Then, the flea larvae form a cocoon pupating in this environment. Inside the cocoon is where metamorphosis takes place, and an adult flea eventually emerges, starting the cycle all over again. 

The emergence of adult fleas from the cocoons is stimulated by pressure and vibrations from breath emission and the detection of sustainable temperature levels. 


Getting Rid of Fleas in Winter

One way to keep fleas out of your home in winter is by protecting your pet from flea infestations that lead to itchiness (you’ll notice your pet scratching itself more), infections, and skin irritations. In addition, flea treatment during winter safeguards your yard and home as it lowers the risk of infestation when a warm climate returns. 

Since treating a flea infestation can be costly and challenging, prevention strategies that reduce the risk of exposure are encouraged. First, ensure your pet and its sleeping area are clean.

Wash the bedding with hot water and vacuum carpets to kill fleas and their eggs, if any. 

Wash the bedding with hot water and vacuum carpets to kill fleas and their eggs, if any. 

Flea colonies that have established themselves in a home will dwell in the carpet fibers, furniture, and rugs as they wait for an oncoming victim to latch on and feed off. A flea extermination carpet powder will help kill the fleas and disrupt their cycle. 

Using reliable flea prevention products is a critical step because of how female fleas lay many eggs in a short time. To stop the fleas from establishing their colonies, use flea extermination products year-round. These products, being fast-acting, kill fleas quickly, preventing egg production and stopping fleas from transmitting diseases. 

Talking to your veterinarian can help you figure out prevention strategies and help you choose the right pet products to use year-round. If you have a pet infested with fleas, it is imperative they get a bath in water with a flea-killing shampoo. You can also soak their collars in flea solutions available from the vet. 

If you have a yard, keep the grass short and avoid walking your pet in wooded or high-brush areas, as this may contribute to extreme flea infestations.

Spray and maintain your lawn and other outdoor areas your pet plays in when spring comes. 

The recommended spray schedule is twice every few days to kill all fleas and then a maintenance spray after 30 or 40 days to maintain the results. 

Since fleas, ticks, and other parasitic pests originate from the outside environment, spraying the outdoor areas prevents you and your pet from unknowingly carrying fleas into your indoor space. 


Treating Flea Bites on Your Skin

It can be confusing at the beginning to tell if you’ve got a flea infestation or a fruit fly infestation — they’re about the same size. But if they are jumping, and more interested in pets, you’ve got fleas!

Because fleas do not have the ability to jump higher than two feet, your ankles will be their prime targets if they manage to infest your home. 

A flea bite can cause redness, swelling, pain, and severe itching at bite sites on your skin. The swelling can be managed by a pack of ice or frozen peas while Witch Hazel calms the itching.

Clean and dry out flea bites with rubbing alcohol. Aloe vera also helps with itching and swelling. Finally, use mosquito repellent to mitigate flea attacks on your bare skin and ankles. 

A flea bite can cause redness, swelling, pain, and severe itching at bite sites on your skin.

Indoor fleas will need spraying or full application of exterminating products on the floor, furniture, pet bedding, and your bedding. 


Conclusion

Fleas are less of a concern in the winter, but they’re still a problem. And if they get into your house where it’s warm and cozy, they can absolutely get through the winter. So regardless of the weather, keep and eye on your pets!

When not addressed properly and promptly, flea infestations will quickly worsen, becoming a nuisance. This is because of their rapid reproduction rates.

Your best chance of successfully tackling a flea infestation at home is by hiring professional pest extermination services.