Flea Eggs

Did you know?

Flea eggs amount for about 50% of the total population of fleas at any given time.

Fleas lay an astonishing number of eggs as part of their life cycle, and they do so in a wide range of places in and around your home: right on the cat, of course, but also in carpeting, on bare floors, on your bed, in your closet, and underneath that highboy dresser in the guest room. Outdoors they are found just about everywhere, but especially in your grassy lawn and on damp soil in cool, shady spots. Since fleas can live up to a year and a half (See: How Long do Fleas Live) and lay up to 50 eggs a day all the while, it doesn't take much imagination to see how big the problem can get in a short period of time.

Flea Eggs

CC Image courtesy of Denni Schnapp on Flickr

What Do Flea Eggs Look Like?

Flea eggs are tiny, but easily recognized (as you can see in the picture to the left). These minute white ovals are less than 1 mm in length and, along with the black flea feces typically found with them, are referred to as 'salt and pepper' by veterinarians. They are most easily found by rubbing your cat's fur along the lower back, belly, and around the head and neck while it sits or stands on a clean dark surface. Flea eggs are, to the dismay of most pet owners, extremely tough and cannot be destroyed by disinfectants or insecticides.

Flea eggs are soft and smooth. Because of this, they tend to fall from the pet where they are usually laid, and land on the carpet or other surfaces. The eggs are oval shaped and dry. Under magnification they look much like other types of eggs.

What Color Are Flea Eggs?

They are white, which means they are most visible against a darker surface. A dark piece of paper works well!

How Big Are Flea Eggs?

They are 0.5mm big. For a comparison, this is similar to the width of lead in mechanical pencils.

Can You See Flea Eggs?

Yes. If you look closely you can see them without magnification.

How to Kill Flea Eggs

It's always preferable to destroy flea eggs before they even hatch as opposed to letting them develop and then playing catch-up by chasing after adult fleas that can jump several feet and hide in tiny crevices around the home. Because adult fleas suck blood and can transmit some pretty dangerous diseases, we don't want them to develop in the first place.

Although flea eggs can be very resilient, there are still effective ways to kill them. It can first be useful to know a few of their characteristics. Lab experiments have shown that exposure to 3C (37F) for 1 day kills 65% of eggs. In addition, when the humidity is below 50%, they do not hatch.

Flea Eggs

CC Image courtesy of Denni Schnapp on Flickr

Natural Ways to Kill Flea Eggs

Vacuuming - studies have shown that vacuuming can remove up to 90% of the eggs in carpet, in addition to getting rid of much of the larvae and larva food. Vacuuming should be a part of any flea control measure, so long as you remember to dispose of the bag afterwards. Otherwise, the fleas will just continue to live within the vacuum bag.

Flea Comb - a flea comb can be used as another natural way to remove flea eggs. The eggs will get caught in the teeth of the comb. This, combined with other methods can help get rid of any eggs.

Washer/Dryer - washing and drying clothing or bedding will kill flea eggs. The water from the washer should drown most of the eggs. Also make sure to dry on the hottest setting, as the heat will kill any remaining eggs.

Other Ways to Kill Flea Eggs

Frontline Plus - While many other treatments just kill the adult fleas, Frontline Plus contains S-methoprene, which kills flea eggs and larvae.

In addition to techniques that remove or kill the eggs, there are a large number of products on the market today that can prevent them from hatching. Products containing the insect growth regulators methoprene and pyripoxyfen stop eggs from hatching, interfere with larvae developing into pupae, and keep pupae from hatching into adults. Some of the approved for use on cats include:

Sentinel for Cats - the active ingredient in these tablets (Lufenuron) prevents flea larvae from being able to break out of the egg. The essentially blocks the life cycle at the early stages and prevents fleas from developing into adults.

Products for use inside the home include Siphotrol Plus II Premise Spray and Precor 2000 Plus Premise Spray. You can also find flea foggers ('bombs') and cat flea collars containing IGRs, though these are not considered by most veterinarians to be very safe or effective in comparison to the home and pet sprays. Yard and lawn sprays which contain these same two ingredients are relatively safe to use because the active ingredients don't persist in the environment.

Flea control products containing methoprene or pyripoxyfen are extremely safe and effective when used according to label directions. They target flea metabolism, and have no direct effects on human or cat metabolism. Cat owners can use them on and around their pets with confidence, knowing that they are not risking their cats' or their own health in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Long Does it Take for Flea Eggs to Hatch? - the time an egg takes to hatch depends entirely on the temperature and humidity, but it can range anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks. Even lowering temperatures a small amount can significantly slow the time to hatch.
  • Can Fleas Lay Eggs on Humans? - it is possible, but unlikely. Human fleas, which are rare, can lay eggs on humans. Fortunately, most people deal with cat and dog fleas that will usually not lay eggs on humans.
  • How Many Eggs Does a Flea Lay? - An adult female flea lays between 11 and 46 eggs per day.
  • Do Flea Eggs Contain Tapeworms? - No. Tapeworms live inside adult fleas.
  • Can Flea Eggs Be Black? - They are always white. However, they are usually seen along with flea feces which are black. This combination is referred to as 'salt and pepper.'
  • Are Flea Eggs Hard? - No, they are soft and smooth.
  • Where Do Flea Eggs Accumulate? - The eggs laid by fleas tend to accumulate where the pet spends a lot of time. Even though eggs are usually laid on the animal, most fall off because they are smooth. So you will usually find most eggs where the pet sleeps or rests.
  • Does Capstar Kill Flea Eggs - No, Capstar Tablets do not kill eggs. These tablets are specifically for killing adult fleas.
  • Does Frontline Kill Flea Eggs? - No, Frontline is effective only at killing adult fleas and ticks.
  • Does Frontline Plus Kill Flea Eggs? - Yes Frontline Plus will kill the eggs and larvae, in addition to killing adult fleas.
  • Does Advantage Kill Flea Eggs? - No, Advantage does not kill flea eggs directly. However, Advantage does prevent the eggs from molting into larval fleas.

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