Can Fleas Fly? How Do They Move Around?

Pets are a part of the family. They provide companionship, emotional support, and unconditional love to their owners.  We all get concerned when our pets become distressed, like when they’re being attacked by fleas!

Pets are a source of fleas, which have been known to spread quickly in homes. The risk of getting fleas is higher if you have a furry pet, but fleas are less choosy than you might think! Fleas are small insects that can cause a lot of discomfort to humans. They are generally found on animals such as dogs and cats. 

Fleas are famous for their jumping ability, but can fleas fly?

Some may be surprised to know that fleas cannot fly, as they do not have wings! But it depends on what your definition of “fly” is, as they can launch themselves in the air to amazing heights.

As an analogy, if bees and other winged insects are like airplanes, fleas are like hot air balloons. Do balloons fly? Sorta, but in a very different way than airplane does!

Here are some amazing facts related to flea movement:

  • Fleas can jump 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally, which is 100 times more than their length
  • Adult fleas jump faster than other pests to leap on their hosts or escape danger
  • They are known to jump thirty thousand times in a row

Let’s dive into the flea’s jumping power and how it compares to flying insects.


Fleas 101: What Do They Look Like?

https://www.cdc.gov/fleas/index.html

Fleas are tiny insects belonging to the order Siphonaptera which means “wingless siphon.” They have very complicated anatomy, with a tough exoskeleton that provides protection from predators and the environment.

Fleas are also closely related to mites.

These pests can infest the hair, skin, and feathers of mammals and birds and feed on the blood of their hosts, commonly dogs, cats, and kittens

They are capable of causing anemia in severe cases. Poor pets!

The flea body is flat, laterally compressed, and wormlike. The head is small with a pair of piercing mouthparts that are used to suck blood from the host, Dracula-style. 

The flea body is flat, laterally compressed, and wormlike.

The flea thorax is segmented with three pairs of legs for moving about on the host’s body. These leg pairs are broken down into a pair for jumping onto another host (or off to find a new location), and one pair for holding onto its host while feeding.


Can Fleas Fly? 

At some point in history, fleas had wings and could probably fly. But they don’t have wings anymore.

The earliest fossils of fleas are from the Cretaceous period, around 145 million years ago. These early flea fossils do not show any evidence of wings, so, likely, they didn’t have wings at this point in their evolution.

However, fossil records from the Paleogene period (around 65 million years ago) show that some species of fleas had wings, which means they lost their wings during the evolution phase. 

In addition, a rubbery protein known as resilin is still found in modern fleas, which is evidence that they had the ability to fly in the past. The resilin forms a hinge where the wings attach to the body.

Modern-day fleas have no wings (thankfully!). But they can still move incredible distances in seconds. Approximately 2000 species of fleas have been discovered in the present era.

However, none of the species have wings or the ability to fly.

Instead, it’s the sheer power of their incredible legs that helps them move from one place to another, not wings. 

A strong, spring-like muscle powers the flea’s jumping ability in each hind leg. They create a push with their hind legs and then release the tension to produce the next jump. Ultimately, they can jump up to 100 to 200 times their height in one leap.

In some cases, they have been seen to “fly” due to wind pressure or when they fall from a great height.

A strong, spring-like muscle powers the flea’s jumping ability in each hind leg. They create a push with their hind legs and then release the tension to produce the next jump.


Comprehending the Life Cycle of Fleas

The flea life cycle is fascinating and includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The females are known to produce 2000 eggs in their entire life.

They lay 40-50 eggs right after every blood meal. So you can see how they can quickly become a real problem when they infest your pets!

Flea Life Cycle. Source: CDC

Their lifecycle starts with the adult flea, about 1/12th of an inch long, and dark brown. Fleas of this scale are just barely visible to the human eye, and are about the same size as fruit flies.

The adult flea lays eggs in the host’s fur, bedding, or furniture like carpets. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on organic debris and the host’s blood until it becomes a pupa. 

Larvae are blind and cannot survive without a host. Also, they are not dangerous to humans as much as they don’t bite them; they need a host animal to survive. Larvae then shed their skin and become pupae for about 2-3 days before emerging as adult fleas. 

One of the fascinating facts about the pupal stage is that fleas can hibernate and survive up to six months without nourishment in extreme situations. Moreover, they can endure extreme temperatures during cold winters and scorching summers.

It’s only possible due to the presence of a cocoon that protects them. 

Therefore, a flea infestation can be a nightmare for many people and must be treated anyway, as it can be fatal for your furry friends due to anemia.


How to Prevent Fleas From Jumping Around Your House

Fleas are annoying and can cause a lot of problems. They jump erratically and quickly, making it hard for you to get rid of them. If you are looking for a way to stop fleas from jumping around your home, there are some methods you can use to get rid of them.

You can use natural remedies like vinegar, lemon juice, and water to kill the fleas. Also, you can use pet-safe products like flea bombs or sprays. 

Fleas are annoying and can cause a lot of problems.

Here are some of the methods described in detail:

1. Vacuum Regularly

Vacuuming effectively removes fleas from your home because it removes the eggs and larvae from the carpet, furniture, and other areas where they are hiding.

It also helps to dry out and kill the flea eggs by sucking up the moisture used by the fleas to survive.

If you vacuum often enough, you can remove all the flea eggs and larvae from your home.

2. Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is also an effective method to prevent flea infestation. Steam cleaners are powerful machines that help eliminate fleas on carpets, furniture, and other surfaces. They use high-pressure water vapor to remove and loosen the surface from fleas, so it’s cleaned more easily. 

Steam cleaning is a low-cost method for removing fleas and their eggs from carpets, upholstery, rugs, mattresses, curtains, or any other type of fabric.

Usually, fleas can’t bear the heat of the steam emitted by these machines.

3. Using Natural Remedies

Using natural remedies can prevent your home from any infestation in the first place. You can use natural remedies like diatomaceous earth, Borax, salt, vinegar, and lemon.

For example, lemon and vinegar kill adult fleas and prevent eggs from hatching. It also acts as a repellent against other insects like mosquitoes and flies. 

Likewise, Borax kills adult fleas with its toxic effect on their nervous system, preventing eggs from hatching.

4. Prevent the Spread of Fleas in Your Yard

Cedar chips are mulch spread over the ground to help prevent flea infestation. They also help to retain moisture in the soil and keep the grass healthy.

Cedar chips are made from cedar bark, which is collected from trees that have been cut down and processed into wood chips. 

Cedar bark is mixed with sawdust, water, and a binder to make the mulch. The resulting product is primarily used as a ground cover or bedding for animals such as horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, and rabbits.

Please remember that cedar chips must be spread over the ground before new plants are planted.

5. Spraying Insecticide

Spraying insecticide on your pet’s bedding, furniture, and other areas where you suspect fleas may be present will help prevent severe infestation.

A recent study found that using insecticide spray to prevent an infestation is more effective than attempting to kill the existing fleas with pesticide-based products or using foggers or vacuums. 

6. Prevent Your Pets From Getting Fleas

Fleas are one of the most irritating insects that can cause your pet to scratch, chew, and suffer from itchy skin.

Poor things!

They live on your pet’s fur and feed off the blood or body fluids that come out of it. You can use a pet-safe spray or a flea comb to prevent them from getting fleas. 

A flea comb is a type of comb that has bristles with short, stiff hairs that can be used to remove fleas from a variety of surfaces, such as carpeting, clothing, and pets. Use a gentle brush or comb to pull out dead or live fleas or their eggs from your pet’s hair.

Of course, many people prefer to treat their pets through oral medications.

Giving your pets a bath regularly with flea shampoo is also essential. 


Conclusion

Fleas don’t fly, as they don’t have wings. But they have such a strong jumping ability that it’s almost like flying.

Getting rid of a flea infestation is necessary before it becomes a nuisance. Their jumping ability allows them to quickly spread from animal to animal.

However, if all the solutions mentioned above don’t work and you want to eliminate the problem more permanently, then it might be time to call in pest control professionals who will know how to get rid of the fleas completely.