Fleas are tiny critters — most of the time no more than an eighth of an inch long, but they pose a great problem to our furry friends, and sometimes, even to their human owners. A significant part of the pet wellness industry centers around flea problems — either treating or preventing them. Fleas can be a chore to find, and you might wonder, “what do flea eggs look like?” The best way to get rid of a flea infestation is to nip it in the bud. Learn below about how to identify flea eggs before they hatch so you don’t end up with a big problem.
What Do Flea Eggs Look Like?
While mature fleas can be easily identified, flea eggs are quite hard to spot since they are small and light-colored. The eggs look like grains of salt. Small, white, and clear — these characteristics of a flea egg make it very difficult to detect.
Often, pet owners confuse flea eggs with dandruff, and for good reason. But there are some differences; dandruff flakes are often irregular in shape while flea eggs are almost always oval. Dandruff and dry skin stick to fur easily, while flea eggs are slippery and will fall off. That’s why flea eggs are generally not seen in large numbers at any one time.
Using a flea comb on your pet can help you get in the middle of all those hairs so that you can better discern the eggs. To make it much clearer to you, place the small specks you have accumulated onto something dark, like a black piece of cloth or paper. Look at them with a magnifying glass to see if they are smooth and oval-shaped. If they are, then they are likely the eggs of these burdensome bugs.
Flea Eggs vs Flea Dirt
Another thing some pet owners confuse for flea eggs are those spots called “flea dirt.”
Fleas are parasites that get nourishment through hematophagy or the ingestion of the blood of their hosts. Flea dirt is digested blood mixed with waste matter from an adult flea. Essentially, it is the bug’s feces.
Flea dirt is easily cleaned away with a bath and is not toxic to you or your pet, but they are a telltale indication that your pet has a flea infestation.
Flea Larvae and Pupae
A flea undergoes four stages of life: eggs, larva, pupa, and adult. Flea larvae move away from light, so they like to crawl and bury themselves under cracks and crevices. During this time, they are still not able to feed on blood, so they eat the flea dirt from their surroundings. This lasts for about 4 to 18 days, after which they develop cocoons and turn into pupae.
The cocoon serves as protection while the flea turns into an adult. They can live inside it for months, even up to years, in some cases. The cocoons have an outer coating that helps them stick to surfaces, so sweeping usually won’t eliminate them.
Once they break out of their cocoons, they become adult fleas capable of feeding on a host. If they are not able to, they will die.
What Does Flea Dirt Look Like?
The most striking feature of flea dirt is the color, which is a reddish, dark brown shade, much like a dusting of black pepper on your pet’s fur. They also clump and stick to pet hair, making them hard to remove.
One sure way to tell if it is indeed flea dirt is to drop a little bit of water on the spots or wipe them with a wet towel. If they start to disintegrate into something with a rusty color resembling bloodstain, then it’s most likely flea dirt.
What Do Flea Larvae Look Like?
When flea larvae hatch from eggs, they look like little worms or maggots about 2 to 5 mm long. They are white, almost transparent, and have no legs. They tend to keep well away from the light and immediately crawl to a dark place, such as small cracks.
How to Get Rid of Flea Eggs
Flea infestations are the bane of many pet dog owners, and addressing them from the start is a top concern. To be rid of annoying fleas, you need to remove where they come from – mature fleas. There are many over-the-counter products and home remedies for fleas, below we have listed some effective strategies.
Treating Pets to Kill Flea Eggs
Because a big part of the pet care industry is dedicated to curbing flea infestations, there are many products out there that will aid in killing adult fleas. Many modern treatments have chemicals that kill adult fleas, as well as growth inhibitors so that the remaining flea eggs won’t be able to mature.
Aside from topical insecticides and flea shampoos, there are oral medicines as well. Talk to the veterinarian so they can give their opinion on the best product for your pet.
Products to Eliminate Flea Eggs at Home
To truly end your flea problem, you also need to remove the fleas and eggs scattered around your home.
Fogging is a simple and efficient way of killing fleas and their eggs, as well as other bugs. But it may not reach all those nooks and crannies, so foggers are advised for use alongside aerosol sprays for the hard-to-reach spaces.
If you use an insecticide, make sure to do your research and choose those that have insect growth regulators so they will kill both adult and larvae fleas.
Vacuuming and Cleaning to Get Rid of Fleas
Keeping your living spaces clean is the most effective way to prevent a flea problem in the first place. Vacuuming effectively kills fleas at any stage of their life cycle. Pay extra attention to corners, cracks, and under carpets.
Washing the upholstery and beddings of your pets with detergent and hot water will also keep them free of fleas. Steaming is also an alternative. Once in a while, declutter your home so those pesky bugs will have no room to hide.
Preventing Fleas and Flea Eggs
Prevention is better than a cure, and eliminating flea eggs before they hatch ensures that they cannot breed anymore, therefore cutting the infestation cycle.
- Regular vacuuming, hot cycle laundry, mopping, and decluttering, as well as the use of the right anti-flea and tick sprays, will greatly reduce the risk of flea problems.
- It’s best to not stop giving your pets preventative treatment after treating their flea problem. Maintain their baths of anti-flea soaps and shampoo, and keep spraying a light misting of insecticide to ward off bugs. You can also use skin-soothing shampoos in combination with flea preventatives to help decrease your pet’s discomfort from flea bites. Be careful not to wash your dog too often as it can further irritate the damaged skin.
- Cleaning the outside of your house adds more protection. Keeping your yard area neat is an important step in maintaining an anti-flea regimen. Wildlife, passersby, and even the pets of your neighbors may unknowingly bring fleas into your place. Sweep your yard, mow the grass, and spray insecticide regularly.
Related: Dog Shampoo Guide
What If I Can’t Find Any Fleas?
Just because there are no visible fleas doesn’t mean there are no infestations. Keep a lookout for these signs that may indicate that fleas abound.
- Abnormal scratching of your pets
- The presence of flea dirt on the places your pets frequent
- Your pet is losing hair from all the scratching
- If you look at your pet’s skin, it looks irritated and scabbed
- Your pet’s gums look pale in the case of severe infestations
If instead of fleas you see these signs, determine if there are indeed fleas in your home and plan accordingly.
To end the flea life cycle before it becomes hard for your pet, then you must learn to recognize flea eggs when you see them. Taking care of business before they hatch ensures that the female fleas cannot lay eggs anymore, preventing future cycles.
Your flea control program must take care of fleas at all stages of their life cycle and must employ multiple strategies to cover all the bases.
However, be sure to talk to your vet about the effectiveness and safety of any chemical and product you choose to employ. Happy flea fighting!