Help fleas in house but no pets, FRONTLINE

Where do fleas come from if there are no animals?

Help, I’ve got fleas in my house, but don’t have pets!

Where did they come from and what do you do next? It’s hardly a pleasant prospect having fleas in your house and when you don’t have pets you might be feeling mystified about where they have come from. The most likely scenario is that you’ve had friends visiting with pets with fleas or moved into a house that has had cats or dogs living there — even though they might have moved out some time ago.

What happens is that flea pupae are protected in a cocoon during their development into adult fleas and in the absence of a host they can lurk around in this protected state for quite some time. The fleas only come out when they think that a new host has arrived and they sense this by detecting movement, warmth and carbon dioxide which indicate that there is a living, breathing host in the vicinity.The fleas present are most likely to be cat fleas or dog fleas and although they can bite people they don’t consider them suitable hosts and will drop off again. As they can’t take a blood meal from people the fleas will eventually die off (as they need a blood meal to produce eggs), although it’s possible that your human family might get bitten frequently until that happens.

If an untreated pet enters the house then a flea can hop on board, feed and produce eggs although this takes 24 hours and if they are not in your home by then they won’t perpetuate the lifecycle — although they could start a new infestation in their own home! Much less common are human fleas. If you have a human flea in your home you will be a suitable host, the lifecycle will complete and fleas will breed, potentially resulting in an infestation in your home.

Not many people are happy to wait until the cat and dog fleas in their home die off. FRONTLINE ® HomeGard is a household spray that can kill adult fleas in your home and prevent eggs and larvae developing there for up to 12 months. It can be used on carpets, cracks and crevices in flooring, pet bedding and soft upholstered furniture, to eradicate fleas and help prevent re-infestation. It’s not suitable for use on your hard furnishings as fleas don’t normally reside in these places.

Vigorous vacuuming is also useful to disturb the fleas in cocoons — these are very sticky so not easily vacuumed up but the vibration can encourage them to hatch out. It’s also a good idea to wash bedding at at least 60 degrees where possible. Children’s soft toys can be bagged and put in a freezer for 5 days to kill any fleas present.

You can also bring flea eggs into the home on clothing or shoes but if you don’t have pets it’s unlikely that these will develop into a viable population in your home. Of course, if you do have pets, regular preventative treatment is needed to break the flea lifecycle and prevent infestations from developing in your home.


The vile flea, just like the bed bug, is a blood-sucking vermin. Fleas are small, dark-coloured, wingless parasites which reach up to 4mm in length. They have flat, oval-shaped bodies which allow them to jump over distances over 33 cm long. They have tube-like mouth-parts, suited for feeding on the blood of their hosts.

Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of those insects:

Most Common Types of Fleas

Canine (dog) flea

Latin name: Ctenocephalides canis

Feline (cat) flea

Latin name: Ctenocephalides felis

Human flea

Latin name: Pulex irritans

Feeding Habits

Fleas feed only on bird and mammal blood. Although different types of fleas prefer different hosts, they all bite humans. The main host of choice for the most common species are dogs and cats. Their saliva prevents the immediate detection of the bite. Later it causes severe irritation and itching. Adult fleas locate their hosts by movement, vibrations and animal breath (through warmth and humidity differences in the air, etc.).

Fleas also have larvae which feed on organic and faecal matter. Although they are hatched blind, they can detect adult fleas’ excrements—a sign of a food source nearby.

Health Effects

Although fleas rarely feed exclusively on humans, flea bites can still pose a serious health hazard. Fleas are known to spread a variety of diseases, such as typhus, tularemia, bubonic plague, and cat scratch disease. Typhus and bubonic plague are notorious for their mortality rates. Still, it is not likely for a human to be infected with them in the UK (due to vaccination and high hygiene standards).

Cat scratch disease, is a common and real health threat. It is caused by the Bartonella henselae bacteria and puts people with a weakened immune system at serious risk. It can result in muscle pains, enlarged lymph nodes, reproductive issues and deep inflammations and infections.

Fleas are also know to transmit various kinds of tapeworms, especially between animals.

Where do fleas live?

Depending on the stage of their life cycle, fleas choose to live in different conditions.

Flea Eggs: Dozens of them are laid directly on your pet’s fur every day and fall spread wherever your pet brings them, which means flea eggs can end up in your bedding, furniture, carpeting and even on top of appliances (if you have a cat, you can be sure of it).

Flea Larvae: They like dark, narrow and dusty spaces that offer protection during this immature stage. Flea Pupae are found only on floors and in-between carpet fibre. Despite composing just 10% of a flea population, they are the main reason why flea treatments often fail.

Adult fleas: As adults, fleas hide only on live hosts such as cats, dogs, rodents and any other furry mammal.

Where do fleas live outside?

In your yard and in wildlife, fleas live in high grass, sand, sheds and debris – places where they can find shade and humidity. These areas, such as the grass underneath a shrub, provide the perfect conditions for all three stages of the flea’s life cycle. From the egg lay to the cocoons – and that’s not all. Animals also prefer to go in the shade on hot summer days, and that’s the time for the newly hatched adult fleas to go for a snack!

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Where do fleas live on dogs and cats?

The most densely infested areas on your pets’ bodies would be around the neck, ears and underbelly. An even better questions is where do fleas come from? A flea infestation can take place even if your pets always stay indoors, as your own vibration and heat can attract a flea while you are enjoying a picnic, fishing trip or just a stroll in the high grass.

Nonetheless, humans cannot actually get fleas – not the common household fleas at least. There’s a species called the human flea, Pulex irritans, that lives on humans, pigs and other mammals that don’t have fur. Those are encountered only in the wild, however, and are different from the fleas found on your cats and dogs.

Causes of infestation

Fleas are transmitted by your pets or by different types of rats and mice. They attach to the fur of the animals from infested dirt or foliage. They usually live on the underbelly area. Once their host goes inside of your home, they transfer to your carpet, drapers, furnishings or indoor plants.

Fleas thrive in warm, moist places. Low temperatures halt their developmental cycle. Summer is the season when most infestations occur.


  • Live fleas: they jump on drapery, carpet, furniture and upholstery. You can recognise them by the fast manner in which they “disappear” and their dot-like appearance.
  • Change in the behaviour of your animal companion: excessive licking, scratching or gnawing its fur, it might indicate your pet suffers from flea bites. In severe cases, dogs and cats can lose fur in infested areas of their skin.
  • Small, reddish-black dots on bed linen: those are the excrements of these blood-sucking insects—dry blood deposits.
  • Itchy, pinkish rash on your skin


Professional flea fumigation includes the use of a variety of insecticides, such as pyriproxyfen and methoprene. Industrial vacuum cleaners are also used, as frequent hoovering kills up to 96% of adult fleas and completely exterminate young fleas.

Diatomaceous earth is also used in flea control, though rarely suitable, as it fumes are toxic to pets and humans. Though inefficient, the use of baking soda remains a popular DIY-method. On theory it causes fleas to die of dehydration.


Pupae and larvae of fleas are resistant to most of the pesticides used in flea control. Recently, researchers have found strains of fleas immune to popular pesticides such as fipronil, fluvalinate, cyfluthrin and cypermethrin. Thus, usually professional treatment is required to guarantee a flea-free property.

What to do in case of a flea infestation

It is important to seek professional help should you suspect a possible infestation. Fleas are hard to battle on your own. Even if all adults die, there is a high possibility for the problem to return. Most domestic-level pesticides use dangerous toxic chemicals—something which most professionals avoid.

Can you have fleas without pets (animals)?

Question: What can we do about fleas? We sprayed with flea spray, but there are no animals in the home.

ANSWER: In short, yes, it is possible to have fleas even though you do not have a pet. There are a few possibilities for this:

1) One possibility is that the previous owner or tenant had animals, and those animals had fleas. When they vacated they left the fleas behind in the carpeting. In a situation like this, the fleas stay in their cocoon until they feel vibration. They can wait for months! Now those adult fleas are looking for a meal. Without a dog or cat available, people become the best choice.

2) Another possibility is stray animals like dogs and cats bringing flea problems to porches, decks, and around doors to houses. Wildlife like skunks, squirrels, raccoons or opossums, can leave behind adult fleas or flea eggs when they spend time around the house, in the attic or your crawl space. Mice and rats can transport fleas into your home.

Call us and set up an inspection with a highly trained Orkin Pest Specialist who will assess the situation and recommend a customized, scientifically proven treatment plan that best fits your needs.

Related Questions:

The Orkin Man used the information above to also answer the following questions submitted by users:


I have recently developed a flea problem in my home. I do not have pets but we did recently bring in a piece of furniture that was given to us and, at the same time I noticed a few cats hanging around, so I am unsure where they came from. But what I want to know is what do you recommend from the store for me to use, and also how much does Orkin charge to spray for fleas? I went and bought Bengal full season plus flea spray, but haven’t used it yet because I am scared I will hurt my 15 month old child. But I must do something because my son is being bitten badly. You would think he had chicken pox or measles the way these fleas are biting him. I have seen the fleas on me but don’t have marks.

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How Do Dogs Get Fleas?

Elena Barnard

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

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As a pet owner, it is important to understand what happens if your dog catches fleas and how you can prevent this from happening in the first place.

Unfortunately, it’s a situation that many dog owners have been in and it’s not uncommon for your dog to pick up the pests when they’re on their daily walk.

Not only can fleas cause irritation for your pet, but they can also cause an infestation around your home that can be hard to get rid of.

We’ve put together our guide about fleas in dogs, including how to recognise if your pet is being affected and how to remove them:

What are fleas?

Fleas are small, jumping insects that thrive (and live!) on the blood of animals. This means that they can be found on cats, dogs, rodents, rabbits and also foxes.

Despite fleas not being equipped with wings for transportation, they have amazing jumping power. They can actually jump 100 times their height thanks to their powerful hind legs!

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Although fleas don’t cause major health issues to humans when they’re bitten – other than itchiness, the creatures can pass on diseases through their bite.

Where do dogs get fleas from?

No matter how adventurous your dog likes to get when they’re out and about, they are bound to wander into an area with exposure to fleas – no matter how hard you try to avoid it!

Outdoor areas are the primary place where your dog could get fleas, with large gardens, kennels and areas of wildlife being just a handful of places where your pet could pick up the pests.

As surprising as it sounds, your pet could also be getting fleas from your home environment! Because fleas jump and attach themselves to items, you could pick up the parasite from outdoors and bring it within your home on your clothing or shoes, which could quickly turn into an infestation.

Are fleas harmful to my dog?

It’s very important to prevent an infestation of fleas on your dog as it could cause health problems, such as:

Flea-Bite Anaemia

Just like humans, animals need red blood cells to keep their bodily functions running healthily. Any dog can develop flea-bite induced anaemia as a result of excessive flea bites as their red blood cells are being taken by the flea.


Because fleas can be infected with the tapeworm infection, your dog could also be affected by the parasite if they lay eggs in your pets’ small intestine.

Flea Allergies

There’s also a possibility that your dog could be allergic to fleas. This is usually noticeable if your pet displays symptoms of excessive scratching, scabs or lump on their skin and biting around the tail.

How do you prevent flea bites on dogs?

The most effective way to prevent flea bites on dogs is to use flea repellent. This can be easily placed on the back of your dog’s neck, and needs to be repeated frequently to kill off all of the newly-hatched eggs that are embedded in your pets’ fur.

There are also a number of natural ways to repel fleas. Eucalyptus trees are known to be a natural flea repellent, and can be planted in your garden to avoid fleas residing in your outside space. This is because they hate the scent that a Eucalyptus gives off and will avoid visiting areas where it is prominent.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering with flea bites, it’s important to consult your vet and use the appropriate flea repellent. We have dog insurance to protect your pet from any health issues they may face.

Where to fleas come from if not from pets?

We’ve just come home from holiday and found fleas in the flat. We’ve been living there a month with no problems and the carpets were professionally cleaned before we came in. I had picked up our post on the way in and had a whole pile in my arms. We sat on the floor to sort through it and suddenly start finding all these fleas on us, which we hadn’t seen previously in the day My theory is that they somehow came from the mail in the postbox and when I walk on the area of carpet where I placed the post that’s where they most jumped on my feet. Also, before I realised it might be the mail, I put a pile of junk leaflets on the kitchen floor and they were situated in that area too. We hoovered repeatedly last night. This morning and last night we’ve found a few more but not as many. It is possible there’s somehow an infestation in the postbox? I don’t really know, I can’t find much online about fleas which don’t come from pets though I’ve read of them being in the outside walls sometimes.

Also, does anyone know where in the UK I can buy flea spray from the home (from shops rather than online) and what works?

8 Answers

fleas are going to develop only where the host animal spends time. if there is a stray or wild animal that spends a lot of time near where you where gathering mail a large number of fleas could of jumped on you while you were there, easiest test is go back to the same place and stand still for a few seconds. If by chance you cut across a lawn be sure to use the same path you did the night you gathered the mail. Other wise the concern would be they came from animals living in or around your home.

for fleas to emerge from their cocoons when someone would of returned from vacation only means there had to be a flea infestation before one left for vacation

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puppy shop birds can incorporate parasites, like scaly mites, lice, between others. Did the bumps originate from the birds? maximum in all probability no longer. sometimes fleas will feed on birds, besides the shown fact that that’s greater in all probability in the journey that your cat has fleas, and is an indoor cat, that the fleas hitched a trip indoors with people and at the instant are after the cat. whilst you’re in an house they might have come from a pals cats or canines, and made their way into your place and now onto your cat. Fleas are great opportunitists and could fortunately feed on many host species once you have your cat sitting frivolously stroke by way of his fur and seek for fleas, they are no longer tricky to locate nonetheless they are in a position to be tricky to capture and tougher to kill. in case you notice fleas you are able to try giving kitty a shower with flea shampoo, this might probable convey approximately a pissed off kitty, yet will help get the fleas. sparkling his mattress, well-liked relax spots, and placed money into getting some stable flea drugs, like Frontline or benefit, flea collars are fairly lots ineffective and would convey approximately extra inflammation on your cat.

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It’s common to be swarmed with hungry fleas after returning from vacation. Fleas can survive in eggs or cocoons for up to two years. Professional cleaning is not a replacement for constant cleaning. What’s happened is that during your absence, some eggs had hatched. Fleas that are still in their eggs and cocoons can not be killed by pesticide. Your best bet is to vacuum thoroughly at least three times a week and to throw the vacuum bag outside so they don’t crawl back out into your home. If you do have pets, feed them capstar, you can cut and crush the pills and mix with canned food to get the dosing down to 1mg per kg of pet. Capstar for dogs is the same as Capstar for cats except the dosing is higher and you can use them interchangeably so long as the dosing is right ( I verified this with Capstar ). Capstar will kill any flea that is on the pet in 20 minutes but only lasts for 24 hours still if you feed the pets Capstar every two days, it’s a great way to break up the life cycle of the flea. Capstar is the safest pesticide for your pet. It may be tempting to use your significant other as flea bait too but it may be unethical to slip them some Capstar. It’s unfortunate but you just have to do a thorough housecleaning and wash all your laundry three times a week for two years to get rid of fleas. Sevin dust is an effective broad spectrum insecticide (so effective that it killed many people during the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster) but nothing other than a vacuum cleaner works on eggs and cocoons. Some people put a flea collar in the vacuum bag or vacuum up some Sevin dust but throwing the vacuum bag out with each use is the only sure way of getting rid of the bugs.

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Flea eggs can lie dormant for years just waiting for some nice warm blooded animal to come along and hey presto there you are, perfect lunch guests with you on the menu. Fleas are common in new carpets, mice and rats are common in carpet warehouses and spread their little friends around. Unfortunately normal cleaning methods will only control them not kill them. Try Spraykill which can be used on soft furnishings and carpets. You can get it from pet shops and vets.

How do you get fleas in your house if you don’t have pets

This is an interesting question, How do you have fleas in your home if you don’t have pets.

It may come as a surprise to some people that you don’t need pets to start a flea infestation in your home.

In fact there are many ways in which fleas can be brought into your home, to start with if you have recently moved into a new house the fleas might be already present.

Fleas could have been left by the previous owners who where pet owners, the fleas eggs could have been living in the carpet waiting to hatch when a new host moved in.

Fleas can be brought into a clean house in a number of ways, it could be the neighbourhood cats and dogs hanging around your property that start the infestation or wild animals like mice, rats and squirrels that bring fleas to your home.

Buying a piece of used furniture that is infested with fleas or flea eggs is another common way to get fleas in your home without owning a pet.

Visiting friends or family’s homes that have fleas is a simply way for the fleas to be transported back to your own home and its the same with public places that have flea infestations, they too could be the ideal way to bring back fleas to your home.

Fleas in the garden brought in by animals can easily be taken into the house by you or one of your family, a bit of gardening or relaxing in the sun is all it takes for a flea to attach itself to you.

Fleas are able to jump long distances so and animal scratching by an open door could be all that’s needed for a flea to jump into your house and play havoc.

As you can see there are many ways that fleas can enter your property but that’s not the end of it because these tiny parasites breed so rapidly that before you even know you have a problem with fleas you could have an infestation on your hands.

Have you got a flea problem

Knowing if you have a flea problem when you don’t have pets can be difficult as you won’t have the tell tale sigh of your pet constantly scratching themselves.

It maybe weeks after the first fleas entered your home before you start noticing them and then you are hit with a much bigger problem.

If you can catch and identify a flea in your home that will give you all the evidence you need but catching them can be tricky.

They don’t have wings to fly away from you but they do have very strong legs that allow them to jump long distances.

What you are looking for is a tiny insect about 2.5mm long that’s flat with a hard brown shell and has six legs, try to trap one on a piece of clear sticky tape or a flea trap to stop it jumping away while you examine it.

You also need to look for eggs, larvae and pupae that are likely to be present in your home, the larvae is about 3mm long and is pale white in colour.

Flea bites

Another way of identifying if you have fleas in your home is flea bites.

If you don’t have pets in your home the flea will feed of a human.

If you have been bitten by a flea that’s another indication that there could be fleas present in your house.

Flea bites appear in small clusters and are red raised bumps with a hallow surrounding the bite and a single puncture wound in the center of the bite.

They are usually found on the legs and feet as the fleas are living in the carpets but can also be found on any other part of your body.


This may sound strange but it can be harder to treat your home for fleas when you don’t have pets.

Firstly because you don’t have pets the tell tale sign of a cat or dog scratching wont tell you that fleas have entered your home in the first place.

From the time they entered to the time they are discovered they would have multiplied very rapidly.

If your neighbours pets are the source and are not treated then your home could be constantly attacked, the same goes for wild animals.

There are many treatments available to kill fleas both chemical and natural but finding the source is the only way to truly get to the bottom of your problem.

If you treated your home from top to bottom and eradicated all signs of fleas its not impossible for a pet free home to get another flea infestation in the future.

If you know the source its easy to eradicate but not knowing were the fleas came from in the first place can make it difficult.

If you know its coming from a neighbours pet that’s frequently seen in and around your property you could have a quite word, same goes for family and friends who have pets that you suspect have fleas.

At the end of the day having fleas when you don’t have pets is a real pain and something that you would not expect but unfortunately this is something that can and does happen.

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