Biology and Habits:
Fleas go though a life cycle consisting of egg, larvae, pupae, and adult, completion of this process varies from two weeks to eight months. At all times a population of fleas contains about 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae and 5 percent adults. The process begins after the female feeds off the host, she lays about 15 to 20 eggs per day, and in one lifetime she can lay up to 600 eggs. Eggs are loosely laid in the coat of the host, and drop out most anywhere especially where the host rests, sleeps or nests (rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, cat or dog boxes, kennels, sand boxes, etc.) Eggs hatch in two days to two weeks into larvae found indoors in floor cracks & crevices, along baseboards, under rug edges and in furniture or beds. When eggs are laid outdoors they are found in moist soil or sand, gravel, under the home, under shrubs, mainly anywhere the host will rest or take cover. Sand and gravel are very suitable for larval development which is the reason fleas are erroneously called “sand fleas.”
Larvae are blind, avoid light, pass through three larval instars and take a week to several months to develop. Pupa mature to adulthood within a silken cocoon woven by the larva to which pet hair, carpet fiber, dust, grass cutting’s, and other debris adheres. In about five to fourteen days adult fleas emerge.
Adult fleas cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal, but may live from two months to one year without feeding. Newly emerged adult fleas live only about one week if a blood meal is not obtained. However, completely developed adult fleas can live for several months without eating, so long as they do not emerge from their puparia (cocoon the larvae creates). The optimum temperatures for the flea’s life cycle are 70°F to 85°F and optimum humidity is 70 percent. The cat flea is the most common flea in Ohio which feeds on a wide range of hosts.