Adult fleas are normally 1-08mm long, brownish in colour, no wings but muscular legs adapted for jumping. The potential life span of a female flea is two years during which she can lay up to 1,000 eggs.

The cat flea causes most flea infestations. The significance of this is explained by the increased number of pets being kept and the tendency for their beds to be neglected during cleaning. Wall-to-wall carpeting also provides a relatively undisturbed environment for new larvae to develop.

Fleas are objectionable because of the bites they inflict and because of the social stigma attached to humans with flea infestations. Flea bites are identified as a tiny dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area. The intensely irritating bite persists for one or two days.


The pest control officer can treat your premises using a combination of insecticides and growth regulators. However you should carry out the following:

  • the adult flea feeds on it’s animal host (normally a cat or dog); the host animal must be treated to control the adult flea - consult a vet for treatment methods
  • ensure your premises are cleaned on a regular basis, this will deny the flea their breeding site and so make an important contribution control
  • place insect powder into your vacuum bag before vacuuming the floor and soft furnishings, this will kill any fleas vacuumed
  • after the pest control officer has carried out the treatment of your premises, do not vacuum for at least ten days

The treatment may take a few weeks to be entirely successful, as new adult fleas will hatch from eggs left in carpets, etc.

You can carry out your own spot treatments of your premises using an amateur approved insecticide. Consult your veterinary surgeon or pest control officer for product information.

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Fleas Factsheet PDF (PDF 157 KB)

Last updated on 11 November 2021