If you’ve found a flea in one room, you’re probably wondering if there are more fleas in your house and how far they’ve spread. Can fleas actually get around a house and, if they can, how do they do it?
Fleas can move from room to room in a house, but not by crawling, walking, or jumping. Fleas travel by catching a lift on an animal, person, or household item that’s moved or carried around. Once that person, animal, or item is in another room, the fleas, pupae or eggs fall off and start living there.
Knowing if, when, and how fleas move from one room to another will help you figure out if fleas have spread in your house and what you need to do to get rid of them.
By the end of this post, you’ll know:
- How far fleas travel on their own
- The 3 ways fleas spread in a house
- If fleas can move from one house to another
- And how to get rid of fleas in a room
Do fleas stay in one room?
The truth is that fleas are pretty lazy: Their only goal in life is to find an animal to jump on so they can suck its blood and start breeding. There’s no blood to suck in the walls, floors, and rooms of your home, which is why fleas can’t breed and spread quickly throughout a house on their own.
Fleas generally stay in one room and in the same place in that room. They spend their days hiding somewhere dark and humid, such as in floorboards or carpets, all while waiting for a potential animal host to walk by.
Fleas won’t walk around, crawl, or jump very far from their hiding place, unless they’re starving and their life depends on it. And “far” for a flea isn’t that far for humans – the average larvae that hatches from a flea egg can travel about 35 inches (90 cm) for food at most, before calling it quits.
Moving 35 inches probably won’t get a flea out of one room and into the next room. If you find a flea then it has probably spent all its indoor time right there and hasn’t been crawling around your house, unless it got carried from one area to another in a way that does spread fleas …
3 ways fleas spread in a house
Fleas can move from room to room in a house in 3 ways:
Fleas travel around a house on animals
Fleas live on animals, such as pets, birds, wild animals, and rodents. The most common way for fleas to spread in a house is on an animal.
Below is a picture of the lifecycle of a flea followed by an example of how fleas might get around your house on an animal:
Let’s say your pet dog picks up a flea in the TV room. The flea jumps onto your dog and starts sucking its blood, then soon starts laying eggs in the dog’s fur because animal blood makes a flea fertile.
A few nights later your dog has an itch and scratches itself in your bedroom. The shaking of its fur during scratching causes many flea eggs to fall off your dog and onto the bedroom floor or in your bed.
If the room isn’t vacuumed or cleaned, the eggs stay where they are until its warm and humid in the room. Now they have the best chance to survive (they are likely to die in a cold, dry climate), so they hatch.
Baby fleas look like white worms and are called larvae. The larvae are blind and stay hidden in a dark place in your bedroom. They usually eat the poop of adult fleas, but if there isn’t any poop available, they’ll live off organic matter on your bedroom floor.
If they survive this stage, the larvae turn into pupae, and go into cocoons. Here they stay until they get a “sign” that there’s a potential host animal nearby. Getting one of the following “signs” lets the adult fleas know it’s time to emerge from their cocoon and jump onto a host:
- Vibrations or shaking of the floor, which tells the flea that an animal is walking around the area
- Carbon dioxide in the air, which tells the flea that an animal is probably breathing nearby
- Warmth, which makes the flea think that there’s a live animal giving off body heat
If the pupae (adult fleas inside cocoons) get any of the above signs, they break out of their cocoons. The fleas know there’s a good chance they will find an animal to jump on, so they can survive.
But this doesn’t only happen on pets. Rodents, birds, or wild animals living in your house, roof, or attic can carry fleas from one room to another, dropping flea eggs or even live fleas as they move around and groom themselves.
Fleas get carried from room to room on household items
Fleas like to hide in dark places, such as in cracks in wood furniture or the dark corners of a sofa. If fleas are hiding in a household item and that piece gets taken to another room, then the fleas get taken along with it.
But this can spread fleas throughout the house too: When carrying an infested item from one room to another, you could drop fleas and eggs in the hallway and in any areas or rooms you pass through.
This is how some fleas make it from one room to another or spread throughout a house without much effort.
If you have signs that there are fleas in your house, don’t move or carry things around until you’ve had a chance to treat the area for fleas.
Fleas jump onto people and get carried around
If there are no animals nearby, there’s a chance the fleas will jump onto you or another person. These fleas don’t want to suck your blood, but they do want to be carried to a new spot to see if there are animals there whose blood they can suck.
Fleas usually jump onto a person’s shoes, socks, or the lower half of the pants (trousers). They hide there and wait for you to walk into the next room, where they drop off and start looking for an animal host.
Fleas can travel from house to house
Fleas can travel from house to house in much the same way as they travel from room to room in a house: they are carried from one house to another on wild animals, birds, pets, people, furniture, or other items.
For example, if you buy furniture from a second-hand store and there are fleas hiding in that furniture, you are bringing the fleas into your house when you take the furniture home.
How to get rid of fleas in a room
If you have fleas in one room, it’s better to treat the entire house for fleas. This is because you don’t know if the fleas have had a chance to spread to other rooms, and if you don’t kill all fleas at the same time, the ones that live have a chance to breed and re-infest your house.
Below is a list of some of the best methods and products from Amazon to get rid of fleas in a room:
- Sprinkle flea powder, like this one, on the floor, making sure it goes into cracks and crevices in floorboards, gaps in tiles, and in carpets or rugs. Leave the powder for at least 24 hours to kill fleas and eggs.
- Vacuum the area, including the floorboards, trims, carpet, furniture, and drapes. Make sure to vacuum in the corners and under all furniture. Once vacuuming is done, seal and dispose of the vacuum bag so you don’t spread fleas to other rooms. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning a bagless vacuum cleaner.
- Mop floorboards and tiles with soapy water and a damp mop – you can try using this homemade dish soap solution that kills fleas and other pests. If possible, use a disposable mop head, seal it in a plastic bag, and throw it away when you’re done.
- Treat all pets for fleas using products recommended by your vet. This may include a:
- -> topical treatment that’s applied to the back of the neck
- -> pet-friendly wash
- -> spray that’s formulated for animals (here’s a popular plant-based spray for dogs and cats)
- -> flea comb
- -> flea collar
- Find an indoor spray that kills all stages of the flea life cycle and is made from natural ingredients that are safe for the family – here’s a home spray that works. Spray it directly onto floors, pet bedding, leashes, furniture, carpets, rugs, and anywhere else you want to kill or prevent fleas. Move furniture and spray areas where the furniture normally sits.
- Replace or seal cracks and gaps in tiles, walls, and between wood floor boards to stop fleas from settling there again. Use draft stoppers to seal gaps under doors.
Once you’ve taken all or as many of the above steps as possible to kill fleas in the room, you’ll need to maintain a flea-prevention routine until you’ve killed every flea, pupa, and egg as follows:
- Check your pets regularly over the coming weeks. If you see signs of fleas, take more steps to get rid of them (speak to your vet if you are struggling with fleas).
- Get rid of any wild animals living in your roof, attic, or chimney.
- Vacuum the floors, wash with soapy water, and spray with a natural product that kills fleas (like this one) every two or three days.
If there are no signs of fleas for at least six weeks in a row, there’s a good chance you no longer have fleas in your home.