Sand Flea Facts & Information

How To Identify & Control Sand Fleas


What Do They Look Like?

Sand Flea
Sand Flea image licensed under CC


Characteristics: The term sand flea is used to describe many species of animals.

How Did I Get Sand Fleas?

Itchy bites and welts received at beaches, marshes, and other coastal areas often come from sand fleas. There are many creatures called "sand fleas" by people at the beach, but true sand fleas are actually crustaceans, not insects, and cause no harm to humans or pets. In some areas, these critters are called beach fleas.

Still, these bites irritate skin and are similar to those delivered by the more familiar cat and dog flea species. If you or your pets are exhibiting symptoms of flea bites, your home may be infested with cat or dog fleas.

How Serious Are Sand Fleas?

True sand fleas will not live in homes, infest cats or dogs, and are usually simply a nuisance due to their bites. However, chigoes, a pest often mistaken for the sand flea, can cause great pain when they bore into the soles of people's feet. Since sand fleas eat seaweed, they are most likely to be found in large numbers where sea vegetation is washed up on the beach.

How Do I Get Rid of Sand Fleas?

What You Can Do

In order to properly determine the pest and the threat, it is important to have the culprit identified, so it is best to collect the pest and have it identified. Contact your veterinarian for treatment options and call a pest control professional to discuss treatment and control methods.

What Orkin Does

Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage sand fleas and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep sand fleas in their place…out of your home, or business.


Behavior, Diet, & Habit

Bites & Welts

Most people describe sand fleas as very small animals which bite people, leaving welts similar to that of a flea. These welts can be caused by a multitude of animals near sandy or coastal areas. There are also sand flies which bite people and are found in sandy areas including desert areas. Sand flies also leave itchy welts.

Pests Mistaken for Sand Fleas

Besides fleas and flies, there are biting gnats and midges which may leave welts, so there are multiple possibilities. Cat and dog fleas are commonly blamed for "sand flea" bites from small biting flies found in coastal areas.

Chigoe (Tunga penetrans) is a type of insect found in tropical areas. This too is sometimes incorrectly called a sand flea. Tungiasis is the skin disorder caused by these fleas. Reports of individuals in North America are from tourists to other areas of the world. The adults burrow into the host's skin, usually the feet.

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