If you’ve ever had a problem with fleas, there’s a good chance you noticed them in your house or walking on your pets. But can fleas live outside in your yard too?
Fleas live in yards and hide where it’s warm and humid, like tall grass, sand, trash, sheds, and under shrubs. They lie and wait for a suitable host to walk past that they can jump onto, which might be an animal, bird, or human.
If fleas are living in your yard, their population is growing by the day. You’ll need to act quickly before there’s a serious infestation, which can be costly and take a long time to resolve.
By the end of this article, you’ll know:
- The types of fleas that live in yards (and which one you need to worry about)
- Why you have fleas in your yard
- What attracts fleas to a yard
- Where to look for fleas in the yard
- And how to get rid of fleas in your yard
Types of fleas that live in yards
According to the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), there are four types of fleas in the US that are common in yards and that can make you sick. These fleas are:
- Cat fleas
- Dog fleas
- Ground squirrel fleas
- Oriental rat fleas
Even though cat fleas are called cat fleas, they don’t only live on cats. The same is true for dog fleas. Cat and dog fleas are found on cats, dogs, and many other animals. But ground squirrel fleas are carried by ground squirrels only and rat fleas live on rats.
The only fleas you really need to worry about in your yard is cat fleas, as these are the fleas that commonly live on pet dogs and cats, and they are the ones that usually enter houses and cause flea infestations in your carpets, upholstery, bedding, wood furniture, and wood floors.
What causes fleas in a yard
Fleas don’t randomly jump into a yard – they are carried in by a person or a host animal. Here are the two things that cause fleas in a yard:
People bring fleas into yards
If you walk through an area that has fleas, such as a park or a flower bed, or you go past an animal with fleas, fleas could jump onto the leg of your pants, your socks or your shoes.
These fleas might not bite you (they prefer animal blood to human blood), but they are very likely to stay on you while they catch a ride (click here if you think fleas are hiding in your hair.)
The fleas jump off when they want to find a better place to hide or an animal to live on, so there’s a good chance you’ll drop these fleas in your yard and/or home.
Animals bring fleas into yards
Cat fleas are the most common flea pest in yards. These fleas can be brought to your yard by many different animals, such as dogs, cats, skunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, or coyotes.
Once fleas are on an animal, they stay there and rarely jump onto another animal or drop to the ground. So animals usually spread fleas in yards by dropping flea eggs, not live fleas.
The fleas living on an animal lay many eggs. These eggs are loose and dry (not sticky like some other insects’ eggs), so they don’t stay on the animal for very long. When a flea-infested animal walks through a yard, dry flea eggs fall to the ground.
If the temperature is warm enough (around 65 – 80 °F / 18 – 27 °C) and there’s enough humidity in the air, the dropped eggs hatch within 10 days. And now you have fleas in your yard.
Hatched fleas stay in the yard until an animal passes by that they can jump onto and live off, or until a human walks past that they can catch a lift on.
What attracts fleas to a yard
If given the choice, fleas will always choose to live on a host animal rather than in a yard. Fleas live on animals so they can suck the animal’s blood and hide in the animal’s fur or feathers to stay safe.
Fleas are not attracted to a yard and they don’t seek out yards. Humans bring fleas in on their pants and shoes, or flea eggs are dropped in a yard by an animal and fleas happen to be born there.
Female fleas must drink blood to start laying eggs, so fleas that drop into a yard won’t reproduce unless the females have recently had a bloodmeal. If this is the case, they will breed incredibly fast.
A female cat flea lays up to 30 eggs a day. If she’s out in a yard and the conditions are right, she could live for between 60 and 90 days. That’s 30 eggs x 60 days = 1 800 eggs in 2 months from each female flea.
Where to look for fleas in a yard
Fleas are happiest in moist, warm, shady areas, so this is where they thrive in yards without a host. But fleas are hardy pests and can even survive temperatures below freezing, at least for a few days.
If you want to look for fleas in your yard, check the following places outside:
- Close to the ground in tall grass
- In shaded areas under shrubs and bushes in flower beds
- Around trees with good shade
- Near water, especially where animals go to drink
- In sand, such as sand pits, loose soil, or decorative sands and gravels
- Under and around wood decks
- In crawl spaces under the house
- Near trash cans
- In piles of wood on the ground
- Under tarps
- In thick piles of vegetation
Fleas can be seen with the naked eye when you look closely. The picture below shows you how to identify a flea from your yard:
If you have fleas coming into your house, click here for a list of all the places fleas hide in a house and how to find them.
How to get rid of fleas in your yard
Below is a list of the best methods and recommended products from Amazon to get rid of fleas in your yard:
- Cut all long grass on and next to your property. You want the grass short enough to let the sun’s heat reach and dry out the soil, where fleas often hide. Trim overgrown trees, shrubs, and plants that make a lot of shade where fleas like to live.
- Remove piles of wood, sand, or anything else lying in the yard that gives fleas a place to hide under.
- Spray the lawn and patio with this flea killer, which both kills and prevents fleas. The product’s made with essential oils in the US, and it’s safe for children, plants, and pets. It’s best to spray your yard every month or two to keep it free from fleas.
- Sprinkle this Bug Destroyer on your lawn, landscapes, and in your flower beds. It kills over 100 insect pests, including fleas, for up to 3 months with each application.
- Lightly spread this food-grade, pet-friendly diatomaceous earth (DE) in the grass or wherever fleas have infested your yard. It’s mined in the US and has no harmful fillers, so it’s perfectly safe for dogs, cats, birds, and horses to eat – but it’s deadly to fleas that walk over it or eat it.
- Some people have had luck with introducing beneficial nematodes to their yard as a more natural option to fight fleas outside. Nematodes are microscopic worms that attack bad pests, like fleas, ticks, destructive worms, and termites. Simply add water to the nematodes and pour this water over any area where fleas are a problem. There’s a guarantee of live delivery, or your money back.
- Check your pets and treat them for fleas regularly.