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What Do Flea Larvae Look Like?

Life Cycle of Fleas

Fleas are parasitic, blood-feeding insects that often enter homes in the fur of household pets. The life cycle of fleas involves four distinct life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Recognizing the pests in each of these stages is vital for control:

  • Egg - About the size of a grain of sand and whitish in color, flea eggs are very hard to see. After an adult lays its eggs in an animals' fur, they often fall out onto the carpet, pet’s bedding in homes or onto the soil when eggs are located outside.

  • Larva - When they hatch from eggs, flea larvae look like tiny worms about 2-5 mm long with a whitish body and pale colored hairs. They feed primarily on flea dirt, which is the blood-filled feces that adult fleas excrete after taking a blood meal.

  • Pupa –When ready to go into the pupal stage, a flea larva spins a silk-like cocoon, inside which it develops into the pupa.. The pupa can lay dormant for a few days or as long as several weeks, often tricking homeowners into thinking their flea infestation is under control.

  • Adult - Adults are about the same size as flea larvae, reddish brown to black in color, and oval-shaped. Their powerful hind legs allow them to jump onto new hosts and travel throughout homes.

Flea Illustration 2

What Do Flea Larvae Look Like on Pets?

It's particularly important to know what flea larvae look like. Stopping the pests in this stage prevents them from hiding as pupae in floor cracks and other areas for extended periods of time.

Larvae like to be near their hosts, so homeowners often spot them on cats and dogs or in pet bedding. In fur, carpet, or blankets, flea larvae look like c-shaped flecks and can be pale or dark depending on when they last fed. The flea dirt they eat may look like specks of pepper.

Flea Closeup

Getting Rid of Flea Larvae

Fleas on Animals

To control a flea infestation, it's important to treat the affected animal as well as the house and yard. Veterinarians can offer flea treatments for pets, but without removing the insects from homes it's easy for animals to become infested again.

Fleas in Homes

Vacuuming and washing bedding and rugs in hot, soapy water can reduce fleas in the house. Flea larvae, eggs, pupae, or adults hiding in hard-to-reach areas may require professional control.

Fleas in Yards

Pest experts can also assess whether wildlife, such as raccoons or skunks, might be bringing these parasites onto the property. To identify flea larvae and remove infestations from the house and yard, contact Orkin for help.


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