Flea Lifespan: How Long Do Fleas Live?

Written by August Croft
Updated: October 26, 2022
© iStock.com/FMT Fotografia
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While nobody likes the idea of fleas, it can be important to understand their lifespan to fully stop this pest in its tracks. You may be asking yourself: how long do fleas live? This is an important question that we will answer in this article. 

Whether or not you are just interested in fleas or have an infestation that you were trying to control, understanding the flea life cycle can better assist you in your endeavors. How long do fleas live in comparison to other common pests? We will discuss this too. Let’s get started. 

How long do fleas live?
While nobody likes the idea of fleas, it can be important to understand their lifespan to fully stop this pest in its tracks.

©Sahara Frost/Shutterstock.com

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How Long Do Fleas Live?

Fleas live an average of 3-10 days, depending on the presence of a host. The average flea lifespan tends to be just over a week. But having access to regular blood supplies can extend a fleas lifespan to 2 weeks or one month. 

Most fleas find their long-term home on your family pets. This includes your cats and dogs. But an infestation can get bad enough that fleas will live in your carpet and home furnishings as well. This is why it is important to control a flea infestation as soon as you know about it. 

Many long-haired animals make better hosts for fleas. They are less likely to be noticed given the protection of your cat or dog’s long fur. Fleas require blood in order to lay eggs and continue their life cycle. Speaking of, let’s learn more about this process now. 

How long do fleas live?
Fleas live an average of 3-10 days, depending on the presence of a host.

©iStock.com/S.Rohrlach

The Average Flea Life Cycle

While it’s a generally unattractive process, the average flea life cycle is still an interesting one. Let’s learn more about it now to understand how long fleas live.

Eggs

A female flea can lay over 20 eggs a day, so long as she has access to regular amounts of blood to drink. Female fleas often consume over 10 times their body weight in blood per day, especially if they are laying eggs. 

Fleas do not remain in their eggs for long, as they are a quick species to breed and reproduce. Fleas hatch from their eggs as larvae, and immediately begin feeding on adult flea excrement in order to survive. 

Larvae and Pupae

It is important for flea larvae to consume adult flea excrement. This is full of blood and other nutrients that allow the larvae to grow. Larvae will transform into a pupa stage in less than a week of hatching from their eggs.

These pupae are microscopic, and are similar to cocoons in many ways. The flea will remain in its pupa shell for roughly 1 or 2 weeks. However, they can remain in this form for many months. Adult fleas will often pop out from their pupa shells when disturbed by passing animals or humans. 

How long do fleas live?
Most fleas find their long-term home on your family pets.

©David Jara Bogunya/Shutterstock.com

Adult Fleas

Grown adult fleas are less than 5 mm in length, and aren’t generally noticed unless they land on you or your pet. They immediately begin feasting on blood, whether it be from humans or animals, and use their powerful legs to get from one host to another.

However, without a host, most fleas die within a day or two. With regular access to blood, a flea infestation can be difficult to control. Female fleas will instinctually lay eggs day after day, leading to more and more fleas in your home.

While this can be a nuisance, this doesn’t make the flea life cycle any less fascinating. This small organism is capable of maintaining its species through feeding on other animals, playing only a small part in the grand circle of life! 

How Does Their Lifespan Compare to Flies?

How long do fleas live?
A female flea can lay over 20 eggs a day, so long as she has access to regular amounts of blood to drink.

©iStock.com/FMT Fotografia

If fleas weren’t bad enough, you may be wondering how long do fleas live when compared to the average house fly? Both pests can be extremely annoying to have in your home, though many would argue that house flies are easier to take care of than a flea infestation.

House flies tend to live longer than fleas, living an average of ten to twenty days, depending on the climate and available food in a home. This is what makes house flies similar to fleas, given that they are so reliant on humans and households for their nutrition. 

House flies and fleas are also deeply changed by the interior climate of your home. They both enjoy living in a climate-controlled environment, and more moisture tends to lead to more fleas and flies. Having a hot and stuffy home can attract flies, but they are less likely to live as long.

The life of a house fly can be cut short given how easy it is to find and kill them. These buzzing pests make themselves known in your own home quite easily, especially if you have a particularly smelly trash can!

Fleas on the other hand tend to be a bit more secretive and difficult to find. You may not notice them until you pet your cat or dog and see the telltale sign of a flea crawling on them. You may not even notice that you have a flea infestation until you begin experiencing many bites concentrated in the same area of your body. 

While individual fleas live significantly shorter lives than house flies do, they can cause many more problems in that period of time, especially compared to the basically harmless house fly. That’s why it is important to curb a flea infestation the moment you notice!

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The Featured Image

Part of a collection with insects, arachnids and other Arthropods (Flea eggs)
Part of a collection with insects, arachnids and other Arthropods (Flea eggs)
© iStock.com/FMT Fotografia

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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