How Long do Fleas Live on Humans?

Cat fleas (C. felis) will cause painful bites, suck blood to induce anemia, transfer pathogens, and produce allergic reactions on humans. How Long do Fleas Live on Humans

Further, adult cat flea will need a meal of fresh blood to reproduce. The adult cat fleas, unlike various other fleas, will remain totally on their host – either cats or dogs. So, how long do fleas live on humans? 

Answer Summary: Fleas will spend an average of 7.3 minutes (for females) and 4.3 minutes (for males) on humans before jumping off. In normal settings (outside of the library) fleas can’t survive or breed on human blood and will thus jump off onto cats and dogs.


Humans and Fleas in Natural Settings

In natural settings (outside of the laboratory), cat fleas will bite human beingsCat fleas will humans about 2-3 times and spend an average of 7.3 minutes (for female fleas) and 4.3 minutes (for male fleas). 

But as we’ve noted above, fleas can’t survive and breed off the human blood and thus will jump have their blood meal and then jump off.

Female fleas require to feed continually for numerous hours to be able to breed off the human blood. However, this can only happen inside the laboratory. 

Flea bites on humans are considered as simply incidental when you move around a flea-infested area such as around the cat or dog bedding.

Fleas appearing directly from their cocoons can bite humans before they get to their favored hosts. However, once the fleas get their way to cats or dogs, they’ll live there. But why? Well, fleas prefer furry hosts where they’ll attach and hide for long.

Cat fleas Favor Furry Hosts 

Feeding on the non-preferred host such as humans will allow fleas to survive but this would significantly reduce their fertility levels.

For example, the female ovaries of fleas might not develop fully. The reason may be that the cat fleas will readily take up the blood ions and proteins from the cat’s blood to help them create more eggs.

Dog and Cat fleas will mainly bite, suck blood, survive and reproduce on blood from the furry pets – dogs and cats in this case. These fleas have flattened bodies that’ll help them easily move around the pet’s body – particularly inside the hair or fur.

Dog and cat fleas have spines that face backward helping the pests to attach on your pet’s fur as it crossed from one body part to another. Therefore, since the human body has no hair or fur, cat or dog fleas will find it difficult to hang on the bare skin.

But how do human beings find themselves with fleas? Well, as the fleas feed on blood from cats and dogs, they continue to grow and reproduce fast.

Therefore, soon their food/ blood demand exceeds their supply on the cats and dogs – which makes these fleas to start biting and sucking blood from human beings.

Generally, most fleas will bite your lower legs and ankles. Human beings who are allergic to flea bites might experience some itching and swelling.

Types of Flea and its preferred Hosts 

Fleas come in many types and equally have a variety of preferred hosts. In this section, I’ve discussed the different flea types. 

1. Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are the most common fleas’ species. they love hairy and furry hosts (which humans are not) and dark placesCat fleas don’t normally live on non-furry hosts such as humans, but they still bite people. However, Cat fleas will mainly bite cats and dogs when they attack your home and yards. 

Therefore, fleas will not live on the human skin but could bite you (2 – 3 times) for blood and then jump off before they get killed.2 However, fleas will not breed on the human skin. Therefore, control massive flea attacks in your house using the best fogger for fleas. Prevent fleas from hitchhiking your clothes using the flea repellent for humans

2. Chigoe fleas (Tunga trimamillata & the Tunga penetrans) are different when compared to the cat fleas discussed above. For example, Chigoe fleas will live in humans and tend to burrow deep into your skin, which the cat fleas won’t do.

In addition, when the Chigoe fleas burrow into your skin, you’ll experience loss of your toenails, skin ulcers, swelling, and itching. However, Chigoe fleas are mainly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America which are mainly the subtropics and the tropics.

3. Human fleas (Pulex irritans) mainly bite pigs and human being. However, these Pulex irritans are significantly more prone to occur among wildlife or animal farms. For example, pigpens become highly infested with these human fleas.

But, dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) don’t just take dogs as their hosts but will also bite and infest cats drawing blood to survive and reproduce.

4. Hen fleas or sticktight fleas (Echidnophaga gallinacea) mainly attack poultry. Therefore, you’ll see these hen fleas biting and affixed on the chicken’s wattle, comb, and eyes. Besides taking chicken as their hosts, hen fleas will also bite human beings who are near the infested areas or poultry.

Rat fleas (Nosopsyllus fasciatus and the Xenopsylla cheopis) are pests that’ll mainly bite and take hosts on roof rats and Norway rats. However, rat fleas won’t be found in homes or house when there are no rats around.

I have no pets – where are fleas coming from?

Despite that most fleas feed, service and reproduce mainly from cat and dog fleas, they’ll also live in homes that have no pets.

If the fleas don’t get pets in your home, they’ll gladly suck blood from humans before hiding in dark corners or couches. But where did the fleas come from? 

1. Vintage sofa – Maybe you just purchased an old or vinatge sofa and brought it to your house – this could be the culprit to bringing fleas around. So, you might have evidently carried some flea eggs, larvae, or adult to your house. 

The challenge is that flea eggs and larvae are so tiny that it would sometimes be difficult to sport them. In addition, they’ll hide in the deepest and darkest alleys of the furniture where sometimes even some insecticides won’t reach.

Equally, problematic is that fleas eggs and larvae can be dormant for months as they wait to hatch or jump onto their next host. Therefore, these pests will jump onto human beings if they won’t find cats or dogs around your house.

2. Fleas from the previous tenant – Sadly,  you may have moved into a house or apartment whose previous owner had fleas that they did not effectively exterminate. So, as you arrange your staff and decorate teh wall, you sadly realize that you have landed a flea problem. 

This could be that the previous tenant had cats and dogs that were flea infested and thus might have left some eggs and flea larvae – maybe it’s even one of the reasons they vacated the apartment.

So, what do you do now? Well, the first thing you’ll need to do is to thoroughly clean your house, flea bomb your rooms, vacuum the floors and surfaces keenly and dispose of the vacuum bags to the bin.

3. Wildlife frequenting your yard – Maybe its not common to you but some wild animals may come to your yard at night or when you’re not around. Some of these animals will come with fleas, flea eggs and larvae that they’ll drop on your yard. For example, squirrels are notorious for visiting the yard and dropping these pesky pests at your doors, on the decks and porch. 

Sources: 

1. Eisen & Gage – Transmission of flea-borne zoonotic agents, Online Flea control Publication 4 August 2012.

2. “Controlling Fleas,” Texas A&M factsheet.

3. Markova, Kam, Miller, & Lichtman – Common Cutaneous ParasitesAnnals of internal medicine, 2nd Sept doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-161-5-201409020-01003.

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