How Long Do Fleas Live Without a Host or Food?


According to the Department of Entomology at Oklahoma State University, fleas can live up to two months or up to a year without a host or food. Understanding a flea’s life cycle is important when dealing with flea infestations at home.

The Life Cycle of a Flea

A flea’s life cycle consists of four stages and can last anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. The duration of the life cycle is influenced by external factors such as temperature. The four stages of a flea’s life cycle are: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. When you try to kill fleas at home, it’s important to deal with all four of these life stages to eliminate the infestation completely.

Flea Egg
Flea eggs have a smooth oval shape and are about 0.5 mm in length. Adult female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day. When they get into a house, adult fleas like to lay their eggs on carpets, bedding, and blankets.

Most people don’t realize that getting rid of flea eggs is actually the biggest battle when dealing with a flea infestation. Killing adult fleas alone won’t do any good until you have successfully dealt with the flea eggs.

Flea Larvae
The next stage is the flea larvae. The wormlike larvae can range anywhere between 1.5 and 5 mm in length. They’ll stay in larvae form for up to two weeks. At home, most flea larvae are still found in carpets and bedding. Their diet primarily consists of organic debris and adult flea feces.

While the results aren’t immediate, there are some natural remedies you can use to get rid of flea egg and larvae, such as using borax and food-grade diatomaceous earth.

Flea Pupae
The larvae spin themselves in tiny silk cocoons before they become adult fleas. Flea pupae aren’t the easiest to identify. The sticky outer surface of the cocoon can attract dirt and debris, which provides the pupae some camouflage.

One natural way of removing flea pupae is to use a steam cleaner + vacuum combination. The high temperature of the steam should be lethal to the fleas.

Adult Fleas
Fleas start to seek hosts like humans and pets once they become adults. They need fresh blood from these hosts in order to produce eggs.

Do you ever wonder why flea infestations can grow so quickly? Well, that’s because adult female fleas can lay eggs a day or two after their first meal. This is why it’s very important to take action as soon as a flea is identified.