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How to know if you have fleas in your house

Updated April 17, 2017

There are over 2,000 kinds of fleas around the world. These tiny insects are parasites that live on a host's blood by biting the skin and sucking the blood to feed. They can jump as high as 16 inches and can start laying eggs soon after their very first meal. When fleas infest a home it can be a nightmare. They can lay up to 50 eggs at a time, covering your home in thousands upon thousands of descendants in as little as a month's time. There are several methods to confirm a flea infestation. If you suspect you have fleas, action is needed immediately to prevent further infestation.

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  1. Examine your skin for bites. This is usually the first sign noticed when you have a flea infestation. Often you will feel a bite as it happens but fleas jump so quickly you may not see the actual flea. However after a few moments you will see a raised red bump. These bumps can be any size. Most are small but in some people that have allergies they can be as big as a dime. There will be a reddish colour to the skin around the bump and most of the time they will itch. Flea bites will usually be on the ankles and legs. They can also be on other parts of the body, particularly if they are in your clothes or bedding.

  2. Check your pets. Especially look in areas that the pet is unable to reach very well, such as around the ears and under the upper part of the legs. Since fleas are fast look for flea droppings. These are black specks on the skin and fur. Since fleas are parasites and suck blood from the host, the droppings are dried blood. If you are not sure if the speck is a dropping or dirt, put it in water. It will turn a reddish brown if it is a flea dropping.

  3. Rub a clean wet white cloth along your floor or carpet. If you have a flea problem in your house the wet cloth will pick up any flea droppings on your floor. They will show up on the wet cloth as tiny red streaks.

  4. Walk across your carpets and around your home in white socks. Fleas love to hitch a ride. They jump on pets or even you when you are outside and ride into the house. Once there they will start breeding and living on the pets and in the flooring and carpets, drapes. A house is a pretty big place to a flea and they will jump on whoever is passing by. When you walk through in white socks, you will see the black or brown fleas against the white socks when they jump on.

  5. Look through area where your pets sleep. Fleas will often choose these places to lay eggs at first because it is warm and the food source, your pet is readily available. If there is a flea problem you will find droppings, live fleas and possibly flea eggs and dead fleas. Flea eggs will look like white specks.

  6. Bathe your pets. If your pets have fleas some of them will drop off in the water and die. Many will not though so your pet and home will still need treatment if you have an infestation.

  7. Use a magnifying glass when looking for signs of fleas. Most of the signs can be very small so using a magnifying glass will keep you from missing any signs. This is important because once fleas get a hold on your house they multiply extremely rapidly. The babies feed on the adult droppings. A flea infestation can get out of hand quickly so the faster you find them if they are there, the better off you will be.

  8. Tip

    Although pets are the most common way to get fleas, homes without pets can also get infested. If you go outside, you can bring fleas in so it is best to do a flea check now and then to be safe. Fleas can be found in the home in all seasons but the most common time for an infestation is spring and summer.


    Fleas may seem like they are too tiny to do much harm. But like other blood sucking parasites they can transfer diseases. Always check with your veterinarian when treating pets for fleas, as some treatments have been found to be poisonous to animals. Be aware that while vacuuming can help in fighting fleas, you must change the bag or empty the canister. Then take the trash outside right away. There may still be live fleas and flea eggs in the bag or canister and they can re-infest your home.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wet cloth
  • Water
  • White socks
  • Tub for bathing pets
  • Magnifying glass

About the Author

Connie Whiting has been a professional writer since 1999. She is published in Red Rock Press Anthologies and "Legacy" magazine. She is also an experienced food column writer. Past positions include certified dental assistant and virtual assistant for “Your Invisible Assistant” a service focused on travel arrangements and media writing. Currently, Connie writes for Demand Studios while pursuing an Associate of Arts.

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