If you think there are fleas in your home, you’ll want to know where to find these pests and how to make sure they’re fleas and not something else. But where do fleas spend time inside?
Fleas live in warm, dark, humid areas of a house, mostly where temperatures stay between 70 and 85°F (21 and 29°C ). If there’s no host animal to feed off, fleas live in carpets, furniture, beds, pet bedding, or floor cracks while waiting for a host to come near enough to jump on.
Knowing what signs to look for, where to look, and how to spot fleas can drastically speed up the process of finding fleas and getting rid of them in your home.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a list of 7 places to search for fleas in your house and know exactly how to find them.
Signs of fleas
Before looking for fleas, you need to know what you’re looking for. Fleas leave signs, such as:
- Small, white, oval-shaped eggs
- Larvae, which look like white worms
- White, yellow, or brown pupae (cocoons)
- Brown or black adult fleas with 6 legs
- Flea dirt, which is flea poop mixed with blood that turns red when it gets wet
TIP: Flea eggs, larvae, pupae and adults are big enough to be seen with the naked eye if you look very closely, but it’s easier to spot them with a handheld magnifying glass that has a light on it – like this one from Amazon.
Where to look for fleas in a house
You’re most likely to find fleas in rooms or areas in your house where there isn’t much sunlight, where it’s warm and humid, and where fleas can hide without being bothered or fear being squashed.
Below is a list of places to look for fleas if you think they might be hiding in your house:
In carpets, rugs, and mats
If fleas are in your house, you’re most likely to find them between the fibers of carpets, mats, bathmats, and rugs. Flea eggs often fall off a pet onto the carpet as the animal moves through the house. Flea larvae hatch and crawl in deep between the fibers, where it’s dark, warm, and where they are protected from being stood on.
Flea larvae can hide in carpets for many months, eating dead skin, food crumbs, and the feces of adult fleas (aka flea dirt).
When looking for fleas in carpets, rugs, or mats, start on one side of the area, or where you suspect the fleas are hiding.
If the carpet has a high pile (long fibers), create an opening in the fibers with your hands so you can see right down to the carpet’s lining on the floor. You are most likely to find the fleas along the edges of a carpet, where the carpet meets the baseboard.
Now look very closely to see if you can see any eggs, larvae, pupae, fleas, or flea dirt. If you don’t see any signs at this starting point, don’t give up.
Move along slowly and keep on looking for signs. Try to move and look in a way that you know you will cover the entire area, without missing any spots. I suggest moving from left to right in the room, starting at the corner furthest from the entrance and moving toward the door.
In or on upholstered furniture
Upholstered furniture is any furniture that has a covering, which is usually material or leather.
Fleas can live and hide in upholstered furniture, so it’s a good idea to check this furniture for fleas. One of the biggest signs that you have fleas in your furniture is if you are being bitten whenever you sit on or near that piece of furniture.
Start by lifting the furniture or moving it away from its usual spot. If fleas have infested the piece, you’re very likely to find fleas hiding underneath the furniture, where it’s dark and they can live without being bothered.
Also look for signs of fleas in upholstered furniture around the individual seats where people sit and along all the seams of the cushion covers, armrests, and main frame.
Fleas, eggs, larvae, and pupae often slip between furniture cushions, so lift the cushions and take a good look around the cushions and on the frame where the cushions lie.
Next, wipe down the upholstered furniture with a damp, light-colored cloth. Start on one side and wipe the furniture in long strokes, making sure you wipe the furniture from top to bottom, and in all the nooks and crannies.
Check the cloth after each stroke to see if you have picked up any signs of fleas. If you see red spots on the cloth, there’s a good chance it’s flea dirt and that fleas are living in the furniture.
In wood furniture
Fleas sometimes live in existing cracks, dark corners, and under wood furniture if they don’t have an animal host to live on.
Fleas can’t eat wood or make tunnels in wood. If something is destroying your wood furniture, it’s probably not fleas but some other wood-destroying bug.
The easiest way to check if your wood furniture has fleas on it is to wipe the furniture down with a light-colored, damp cloth. Wipe from top to bottom, including the armrests, under the seats, in hard-to-reach places, and in cracks in the wood.
Look at the cloth regularly to see if there are any fleas, white eggs, or reddish-black flea dirt on the cloth.
In drapes or fabric curtains
Fleas don’t like living in material for long, but if drapes and curtains are the only protection they have available while growing from larvae to adults or while waiting for an animal host to walk by, then fleas will hide there.
Fleas prefer the darkest, warmest places in drapes and fabric curtains.
If you suspect fleas are hiding in your drapes or curtains, look closely at the back of the material that sits against the wall and any areas that lie on the floor. Also be sure to inspect the fabric’s seams, as this is another hiding spot for fleas.
In floor cracks and gaps
Cracks and gaps in baseboards (skirting boards), floor corners, and between floorboards create the perfect place for fleas to live and hide, especially if the floor area has been or is exposed to moisture. Fleas can live in these dark, warm hiding places for about two or three months without any blood to drink.
There are three ways to find fleas in your floors:
1. Look for fleas in the floor
If you think there are fleas living in your floors, get close to the ground and try to see signs of fleas on the floor or in the cracks and crevices between floorboards, baseboards, and in the corners of the room.
2. Try to pick up fleas with white socks
Put on a pair of long white socks that cover your ankles and calves, then spend a few hours in the room where you think there might be fleas.
If fleas are in the area, there’s a good chance some will jump onto your socks thinking they’re the legs of an animal.
3. Get a sample of floor dust
Wet a cotton swab or cloth and use it to wipe a dusty area of the floor or in any cracks or gaps you can access.
Check what you picked up: Is there any reddish-black flea dirt on there? What about flea eggs or pupae (cocoons)?
In areas where your pet spends a lot of time
Most fleas are brought into a house on pets (though this is only one of the ways they get inside). If you have a pet with fleas that is allowed in your home, there’s a good chance you’ll find signs of fleas wherever the animal spends time for two reasons:
- Fleas lay eggs on their host animal (your pet). These eggs aren’t sticky for a reason: as the animal moves around your house, it drops the loose, dry flea eggs. The more time an animal spends in a certain area, the more eggs it drops there.
- Fleas are usually more active and tend to lay eggs at night. A pet usually sleeps at night and scratches itself when fleas walk around on it. This is why there tends to be many flea eggs in a pet’s sleeping area.
Look for signs of fleas in your pet’s bedding, especially flea eggs. If you don’t see any, try rubbing down the pet bed with a damp, light-colored cloth, to see if the cloth picks up any signs of fleas.
Another way to find fleas is to get wide tape, like this one from Amazon. Wrap the tape around your hand with the sticky side facing away from your skin, then stick the tape to the pet bed and lift it off. Repeat this stick and lift motion across the bed.
Check the tape every few lifts to see what it has picked up. Look for fleas, eggs, larvae, pupae, or flea dirt stuck to the tape. Get fresh tape whenever the tape wrapped around your hand is no longer sticky.
In your bed and bedding
Sometimes flea eggs fall from pets onto human beds and bedding. These eggs hatch, go through a short lifecycle to become adults, then live in the bed and bedding waiting for a host animal to jump on.
If you think fleas are living in your bed or bedding, look closely at the edging, folds, seams, and around the tags of your mattress and box spring. You can also check the corners and underside of the headboard and bed frame for fleas, especially if these are made of wood.
When inspecting the mattress or bedding, take a bank card and a white piece of paper. Scrape the card over the mattress or bedding, letting whatever it catches fall onto the white paper. Take a close look at what you pick up on the paper – you’re looking for eggs, larvae, pupae, adult fleas, or flea dirt.