Do fleas live in public

Fleas: advice and information

Hastings Borough Council provides a pest control service for the treatment of fleas. You can book an appointment quickly and easily using our online form.

Our pest control information and charges page has the fees for all our pest control services.

  • One flea will lay up to 25 eggs per day (approximately 800 in its life)
  • Fleas develop from egg to larvae to pupae to adults in 18-26 days (depending on temperature)
  • Fleas can only lay eggs after taking blood from the host animal they are living on
  • Approximately 90-95% of the fleas are cat fleas
  • Flea eggs and pupae are not affected by insecticides – this last fact is very important to understand after your home has been treated

If you have a pet or pets, you must treat them. Speak to your vet about the appropriate treatment for your animal. Although fleas lays up to 25 eggs per day, good pet and house management can reduce this. For example:

  • Animal grooming: pets will eat/swallow eggs when they clean themselves
  • Vacuuming and cleaning thoroughly (including furniture)
  • Treating your pet/s: get advice from your vet for advice
  • Outdoor activities: eggs will drop off when pets are outside, so groom them outside
  • Special attention to pet bedding and favourite nesting areas: wash the bedding regularly

Can you have fleas in your house if you don’t keep pets?

There are several reasons why you may have a flea infestation even if you don’t have pets:

  • In the summer months fleas can survive outside and be carried into the house
  • If you visit friends who have fleas in their homes you can transport them back to yours
  • If you visit a public building that has a flea infestation you can transport them back to your home
  • If you move into a new house or flat you can inherit a flea problem (fleas in the pupae stage can remain dormant for up to 9 months and hatch when you walk into an empty property)

By the time you are aware of an infestation, you will probably have had fleas for some weeks or perhaps months.

Before treatment

The most common method of treating a property for fleas is to spray with insecticide.

Before spraying you should:

  • Thoroughly clean, vacuum or sweep your premises prior to treatment
  • Cover or properly store all exposed foodstuffs
  • Ensure that all pets (cats, dogs, birds, etc) are removed from the areas to be treated and do not allow them back until the rooms have been ventilated
  • Remove or cover and seal fish or reptile tanks, the insecticide may be harmful to them. If not adequately protected the pest control officer may refuse to treat the premises.

After treatment

We recommend that:

  • The premises must be vacated for a minimum of 3 hours
  • On your return to the premises, windows should be opened to ventilate the treated rooms
  • You do not vacuum, wash or clean for 2 weeks after treatment

The floors of your property will be covered by a layer of insecticide which is odourless and invisible. It has a very good residual effect which means that it will continue to work for some time if left undisturbed. Adult fleas will be killed within a few days but the floor should not be vacuumed, swept or washed for at least two weeks after treatment because there will still be eggs which will continue to hatch.

As eggs hatch and develop, you might find fleas reappearing 10-14 days after treatment – this is quite normal and provided the insecticide remains in place it will kill them. This is why it is important not to carry out cleaning which might remove insecticide.

If you do have a pet it should also be treated for fleas immediately, using a treatment recommended by your vet.

If you find you still have fleas four weeks after this treatment please contact us and we will arrange for a Pest Control Officer to investigate.


If you do find that you still have a flea infestation after treatment, the possible causes are:

  • The premises was cleaned or vacuumed prior to 14 days after treatment
  • It is possible that someone or a pet has picked up fertile fleas from other locations
  • Your pets were not treated for fleas satisfactorily
  • Poor house management
  • The insecticide treatment is effective for approximately 6 weeks (depending on house management)

For these reasons we do not guarantee 100% eradication of the flea infestation. It is essential you understand the life-cycle and do not vacuum or clean within the 14 day period. Remember that fleas will still be developing even after treatment, whether it be your own fleas or the ones that are brought in.

Our pest control information and charges page has the fees for all our pest control services.

Can Fleas Live on Humans?

Fleas and Their Preferred Hosts

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Animals & Nature

If you’ve ever had flea bites, you’ve probably wondered whether fleas can live on people. The good news is fleas don’t live on people’s bodies, with very few exceptions. The bad news is fleas can and will inhabit human dwellings, even in the absence of pets.

Kinds of Fleas and Their Preferred Hosts

There are actually many kinds of fleas, and each species has a preferred host.

Human fleas (Pulex irritans) prefer to feed on humans or pigs, but these parasites are very uncommon in homes in developed countries and are more often associated with wildlife. Farms sometimes become infested with human fleas, particularly in pigpens.

Rat fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis and Nosopsyllus fasciatus) are parasites of Norway rats and roof rats. They generally don’t infest human dwellings unless rats are present. Rat fleas are medically important ectoparasites, however, because they transmit disease-causing organisms to humans. The Oriental rat flea is the main carrier of the organism that causes plague.

Hen fleas (Echidnophaga gallinacea) are parasites of poultry. These fleas, also known as sticktight fleas, attach to their hosts. When chickens are infested, fleas may accumulate visibly around their eyes, comb, and wattle. Although hen fleas prefer to feed on birds, they will feed on people who live in proximity to or who care for infested poultry.

Chigoe fleas (Tunga penetrans and Tunga trimamillata) are an exception to the rule. These fleas not only live on people, but they also burrow into human skin. Worse still, they burrow into human feet, where they cause itching, swelling, skin ulcers, and loss of toenails, and they can even impede walking. But don’t panic just yet. Chigoe fleas inhabit the tropics and subtropics and are mainly a concern in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are almost always the fleas that invade our homes and feed on our pets. Despite their name, cat fleas are just as likely to feed on Fido as they are on Miss Kitty. And though they don’t usually live on non-furry hosts like humans, they can and do bite people.

Less often, dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) infest homes. Dog fleas aren’t picky parasites, either, and will gladly draw blood from your cat.

Cat and Dog Fleas Prefer Furry Hosts

In either case—cat or dog fleas—the adult fleas are built for hiding in fur. Their laterally flattened bodies help them navigate between pieces of fur or hair. Backward-facing spines on their bodies help them cling to Fido’s fur when he’s on the move. Our relatively hairless bodies don’t make great hiding places for fleas, and it’s much harder for them to hang on to our bare skin.

Still, people living with pets eventually find themselves faced with a flea infestation. As they multiply in number, all those bloodthirsty fleas are competing for your pet and may begin biting you instead. Flea bites typically occur on the ankles or lower legs. And yes, flea bites do itch, especially if you’re allergic to them.

Can I Get Fleas if I Don’t Have Pets?

Although fleas rarely take up residence on human skin, they can and will live happily in a human home with no pets present. If fleas find their way into your house and don’t find a dog, cat, or bunny on which to feed, they will consider you as the next best thing.

Learn about fleas, how to check your pet for fleas, how to prevent fleas and how to get rid of fleas.

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What are fleas?

Fleas are small, parasitic insects that feed by sucking blood from mammals and birds. While immature fleas do not bite, adult fleas usually feed several times a day.

  • are dark brown or reddish brown
  • have flat bodies
  • are 1 to 4 mm (.04 to .16 inches) long
  • are wingless
  • can jump up to 20 cm (8 inches) vertically and 41 cm (just under 16 inches) horizontally

In most parts of Canada, the peak flea season is early August to early October.

Why should I be concerned about fleas?

Fleas are not just an annoyance. They can cause discomfort for you and your pet. Some people and animals get an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which creates a rash.

In animals, fleas can cause:

  • hair loss from frequent scratching and biting
  • anemia (not enough red blood cells in the blood) in extreme cases

Fleas can transmit:

  • parasites like tapeworms
  • diseases like typhus

A flea bite creates a small, hard, red and itchy spot. The spot:

  • is slightly raised and swollen
  • has 1 puncture point in the middle

Flea bites often appear in clusters or lines. They can be itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks.

How do I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas prefer to stay on pets and only leave after feeding. Their eggs, larvae (immature fleas) and pupae can be found in and around where pets sleep.

During peak flea season and after contact with other animals, you should:

  • Check your pet regularly for:
    • black particles the size of ground pepper on your pet’s skin near the tail
  • Inspect areas that your pets often go to for signs of fleas:
    • sleeping areas
    • dog houses
    • kennels

How can I prevent fleas in the home?

You can reduce the chance of fleas coming into your home by:

  • keeping cats indoors
  • inspecting your pet regularly
  • regularly mowing and raking your lawn to discourage animals that may carry fleas
  • repairing window screens and other places that unwanted animals can use to enter your home
  • covering sandboxes when they are not being used

You can prevent your pet from getting fleas by using pest control products made for pets. Most of these products come into contact with the pet’s skin. It is important to use the right product for your pet and read and follow the directions on the label.

What do I do if my pet has fleas?

If your pet has fleas, you will need to treat the pet and areas used by your pet. You should use both physical and chemical control methods.

To get rid of fleas on your pet, focus on the neck or tail, where fleas tend to gather.

A flea comb will remove most:

Kill the fleas by putting them in hot, soapy water.

To get rid of fleas in your home:

  • Wash pet and family bedding in hot, soapy water every 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Lift blankets by all 4 corners to avoid scattering the eggs and larvae. If an infestation is severe, replace old pet bedding.
  • Vacuum carpets and cushioned furniture daily.
  • Clean around cracks and crevices on floors and along baseboards.
  • Steam-clean carpets.

You will need to treat areas frequented by pets:

  • baseboards near sleeping quarters
  • points of entry (for example, around door and window frames)
  • small areas in the yard where pets rest or play (like dog houses)

If the flea problem persists, contact a licensed pest control operator in your area.

What flea control products do I use?

Flea control products for use on pets and in the home are available.

Products for pets

Before choosing a product for your pet, you should ask a veterinarian about the best treatment. Veterinarians can prescribe products that are not available over the counter.

The veterinarian will want to know if:

  • you have both cats and dogs
  • they are in regular contact with children
  • your pet is sick, old, pregnant or nursing
  • your pet is on medication or receiving another pesticide treatment

To prevent your pet from getting fleas during flea season use:

  • flea collars
  • spot-on treatments

For an ongoing flea problem use:

When using a flea control product:

  • Follow the instructions on the label.
  • Use the right product for the animal (the label will state if it is for dogs or cats).
  • Use the amount specified in the instructions based on your pet’s size and weight.
  • Do not apply to animals below the minimum age stated on the label.

Watch your pet for signs of a bad reaction and see a veterinarian if you are concerned.

Products for the home

Products to control fleas in and around your home may require repeat treatments to kill the larvae and adult fleas.

Here are some things you should know:

  • Applying a thin layer of diatomaceous earth (silicon dioxide) causes adult fleas to dry up when they crawl over it. It is not toxic to humans and pets, but be careful not to inhale the dust when using it.
  • Using insect growth regulators, such as methoprene and pyriproxyfen, prevent flea larvae from becoming adults. This will break the reproductive cycle. These products do not kill adult fleas that are already present.
  • Applying insecticidal sprays with pyrethrin or a pyrethroid on cracks, crevices and as a spot treatment kill adult fleas and larvae.

When buying a product, look for a Pest Control Products (PCP) number on the label. This tells you the product has been scientifically assessed and registered by the Government of Canada.

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Fleas are tiny – only around 2mm in length and their distinguishing characteristic is that their bodies are very narrow. They do not have wings and are dark in colour. They are well adapted to their way of life; their narrow body allows them to move around very quickly among hairs or feathers.

Their back legs are powerful enabling them to jump. We encounter only three species of flea in the UK – the cat flea is by far the most common. Less often, dog fleas are a problem, and although now very rare, the human flea is still a possibility.

Fleas are parasites. They live exclusively on the blood they take from warm-blooded animals – these are the ‘host’. Each species has a preferred host, e.g. cat fleas prefer cats and dog fleas prefer dogs.

However, each species can feed from other animals (and people). Fleas are often found on the host’s bedding as well as carpets and soft furnishings. An infestation of fleas in your home may not come to your attention until a cat or dog is removed from a house or flat.

Left isolated and hungry and now without their preferred host, the fleas left behind have no choice but to move to people. While cat and dog fleas cannot breed without their preferred hosts, they can live for several months on a diet of human blood.

Fleas are capable of carrying and transmitting diseases through their bites. They can also be responsible for parasitic worms such as dog tapeworm. We are fortunate in the UK in that fleas are not generally known to spread disease but the bites – a tiny dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area – along with uncomfortable itching are enough for most people to do something about the problem.

Life Cycle

Flea eggs are only about half a millimetre in length, oval shaped and pearl-white – you will not usually see them with the naked eye. They will be laid in various locations within an infested property including the fur of the cat or dog host or in its bedding.

The eggs hatch in about one week into larvae which feed on a mixture of dead insects, skin particles and the adult flea’s droppings. Flea larvae like to live in dark humid places such as carpets and animal bedding. The larvae then pupate.

After a variable period of time (about three weeks under normal conditions but very much longer in an unoccupied property), adult fleas hatch in response to vibrations made by a passing host. The complete life cycle normally takes four weeks. Once an unoccupied property is reoccupied (typically by a new household with no pet cat) there can be a mass-hatching and an almost immediate re-infestation will result.

Prevention is of course always better than cure. To keep your home flea-free you must keep your pets flea-free. If you are in any doubt about how to achieve this you should seek your vet’s advice.

Regular vacuuming and cleaning of carpets is a good way of removing eggs, larvae and pupa to interrupt the lifecycle and to stop any fleas from breeding in your home.

If you already have an infestation, try to identify the source of the problem. In most cases this can be traced to a present (or often recently absent) family pet. If you suspect the source is a pet you may wish to consult your vet who may confirm your suspicions and recommend appropriate treatment. At the same time as your pet is treated you must also thoroughly clean your floors (vacuum clean all carpets). You must empty the vacuum cleaner afterwards.

To be thorough, bearing in mind the cleaner itself may now contain eggs, larvae, pupae and adult fleas, you should dispose of the contents outdoors and spray the inside the cleaner and any new bag used with a crawling insect spray (available from supermarkets, pharmacies and DIY stores).

In the case of small, recent and localised infestations, you may be able to successfully treat the infested rooms yourself with either a specialist product (available from your vet), or any general purpose crawling insect spray. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

If you have a more extensive or persistent infestation you need the help of a professional pest controller. On request, we will treat your home with a professional residual insecticide.

Before treatment we ask you to clean and tidy the rooms to be treated and vacuum the carpets. We normally carry out a single spray treatment of the floors and soft furnishings (if possible).

We then ask you not to clean or vacuum the treated areas. These should remain undisturbed for a minimum of seven days. This ensures the all-important ‘residue’ of the insecticide kills emerging fleas that were in the pupa stage at the time of treatment. The insecticide we use also includes an insect growth regulator that prevents further reproduction by any survivors of this process.

Please refer to the treatment service fees and charges on our pest control homepage.

​​Can Fleas Live In Human Hair?

Fleas are a menace for our pets and can cause distress and irritation to us humans, too. If you’ve managed to get a flea infestation in the home, it’s not unusual to start itching— from both their bites and simple repulsion.

When faced with fleas, many people start to worry that these parasites will take up permanent residence on their body. There are many rumors about unlucky individuals having a head of hair infested with fleas, but is this really possible?

In this article, we examine whether or not fleas can live in human hair.

How Do Fleas Get in Your Hair?

In order for fleas to get into your hair, you would have to hold a flea-infested pet close to your head or be lying down somewhere which has fleas. Although fleas are known for being able to jump vast distances relative to their size, these distances are still very small in human terms.

A study found that cat fleas (the most common type of flea) can leap a horizontal distance of about 8 inches on average. The longest leap was 19 inches, but this is uncommon.

Most adult cat fleas are less than ⅛ inch long, so a leap of this distance is very impressive, being around 160 times their length.

In terms of height, fleas were originally believed to be capable of leaping as high as 13 inches vertically. More recent studies have found that this is not true. Fleas can jump to heights of an average six inches, with the highest jump recorded being 7.9 inches.

Clearly, fleas are not capable of leaping into your hair from the ground, even if you were sitting on the floor. A leap of six inches high will only bring the flea up to the ankles of most adult humans.

This is why most flea bites are congregated around the ankle area. Fleas will usually simply have a quick feed and then leave when they are done. But, could a flea climb from your ankles to your hair?

The majority of flea species are able to climb. After all, when they emerge from their cocoons, they have to crawl upwards out of their hiding place to be able to reach a host. Inside your home, that will entail climbing up carpet fibers to reach the top of the carpet. Whereas outdoors, they will climb up to the top of blades of grass.

That said, fleas do not climb up the legs and bodies of humans to hide in their hair. The same is true for the pubic area, fleas will not be climbing up and hiding there either. Once a flea has found bare skin, they will bite and feed for a little while and then be on their way.

On this basis, the only way a flea could get into your hair is if a flea-infested pet lays by your head or is sleeping on your bed, or you lay down on carpet which has fleas emerging from it.

Will Fleas Stay and Live in Your Hair?

Once upon a host, adult fleas wish to stay there for the rest of their lives. They do not willingly leave their host, instead, they are either dislodged when your pet grooms themselves or they’re forced to leave due to the application of a repellent.

Cat fleas will take the opportunity to feed upon many different warm-blooded mammals. They do have preferred hosts, which they are biologically designed to live, breed, and thrive upon. These are cats, dogs, and other furry mammals though. Humans are not a preferred host for fleas.

Humans which share an environment with fleas will still often get bitten, especially if there is no preferred host around. When fleas emerge from their cocoons, they will need to feed as a matter of urgency. So, if a human foot comes by, they will not hesitate to leap aboard and feed.

Overall, we are simply another warm-blooded mammal as far as fleas are concerned. They are not fussy when it comes to acquiring a meal, but they will leave as soon as they are satiated.

A flea which has landed upon a human will generally bite 2 or 3 times before they depart. They can feed upon our blood for as long as seven minutes at a time if they are undisturbed.

For those concerned that fleas will choose to reside in your hair if they manage to reach it, the answer is that it is highly unlikely. Fleas are designed to live on animals with densely packed fur, and not humans.

Furthermore, fleas will only be able to live and breed on the animals which are their preferred hosts, such as dogs and cats. This is because fleas have evolved in tandem with these hosts over thousands of years.

Fleas on cats stomach

The only real exception to this is a particular species of flea which is known as the “human flea” or “chigoe flea.” This flea is extremely rare in the US, tending to reside in more tropical areas. This flea is very well adapted at living upon humans, burrowing into the skin where it feeds and lays its eggs.

If you have very dense frizzy hair, or a full, matted beard, there is the potential that fleas may get inside and not immediately be able to find their way out after feeding. But they certainly are not actively trying to stay there.

Will Fleas Lay Eggs in Your Hair?

As we’ve mentioned, humans are poor hosts for fleas. While a steady diet of human blood will enable a flea to survive, they will not be able to breed and reproduce on human blood alone.

Female fleas must feed continuously on their host’s blood before they are able to begin laying eggs. Once they have started to lay, they must be able to feed at will to sustain their demanding metabolic process.

If a female flea only has access to human blood, her fertility will be almost completely stunted, and it is highly unlikely she will be able to lay eggs. When fleas are living and feeding upon their preferred host, they can lay as many as 30 eggs every single day.

Because of these factors, it is unlikely that you need to be concerned about fleas laying eggs in your hair. If a flea manages to get into your hair or a thick beard, they will feed if they can, before trying to find their way back to their preferred host.

If there is no preferred host around, they will probably stay and feed. But they will not be fertile or well nourished enough to breed.

Are There Any Ways to Stop Fleas from Getting into Your Hair?

Although it is unusual to observe fleas spending any length of time upon humans, if there’s a particularly serious infestation and a lack of pets, you will be the only target.

In order to get rid of fleas, you will need to adopt a multi-pronged approach to personal hygiene and home treatment.

As we touched upon earlier, if a flea is going to be in your hair, it is likely to be in a bushy beard, dreadlocks, or thick, dense hair. Therefore, it is super important to keep your hair well combed if you can, and keep it clean. A good tip is to tie the hair up tight and slicked back in a bun so there isn’t much hair for a flea to get stuck in.

Strong smelling shampoos, which have ingredients like tea tree, eucalyptus, and rosemary, are good flea repellents to encourage any fleas to move on out.

Of course, if you have any furry animal pets in the home, they are almost certainly suffering too. You must treat them for fleas as a priority, as they will be the home for the majority of the adult flea population.

It is fair to say they will be very uncomfortable themselves if you have enough fleas around that they are starting to find their way into your hair.

Treating your pet and yourself is an important step, but you must not overlook the enemy within the carpet or cracks in the wood floor. Flea eggs do not stay on the host, they are designed to fall out from the fur into the ground.

Flea eggs between carpet fibers

In your case, that means your floors and carpet are likely littered with flea eggs and larvae. This is a time bomb waiting to go off. If you don’t get rid of the flea eggs and other life cycle stages from your home, it is only a matter of time before they return.

By far the most effective way to do this is by vacuuming your entire home thoroughly. Any adult fleas, eggs, and larvae will be sucked up from the fibers. Flea pupae attach in a cocoon to the carpet fibers, but the vibration from the vacuum can “wake them up.”

Hidden Flea Cocoons – CC Image courtesy of Sean McCann

They believe the vibrations are signs of hosts moving nearby, so they break free and start to emerge—only to be sucked up. You may have to vacuum intensely every few days before you get them all.

Vacuuming is a great way to hit fleas hard, but you will also have to deal with soft furnishings and textiles which cannot be vacuumed. Ensure to remove your bedding, pet toys, and pet bedding, cushion covers, etc. and wash them on a very high temperature to kill fleas and flea eggs.

If you have access to a steam cleaner, this is a sure-fire way to eliminate fleas from the carpet and furniture, no matter what stage of the life cycle they are in.

The thought of fleas living in your hair is enough to make anyone start to furiously itch and want to jump in the shower immediately. Luckily, as we have seen in this article, the potential for fleas living in your hair is very slim.

Fleas will bite and feed on humans, but the reality is that they do not wish to live on us. If there’s no preferred host around, they can end up getting into dense human hair. They may feed there and be unable to find a way out, but it’s not where they really want to be.

Fleas will not lay eggs in human hair because our blood is not nutritious enough to support their fertility and ability to reproduce. So you can rest assured that it’s highly unlikely to occur.

Simple personal and home hygiene methods are effective in tackling fleas. So long as you treat your pets and home thoroughly, you should be free of these pests in no time.

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