If I only saw one flea, do I need to treat my house?

Marie e-mailed in this question:

"Is it possible to see "ONE" flea in your apartment and never see another one, or should the place be treated?"

It is definitely possible. Assuming that only one flea got into your apartment, you would only get an infestation if that flea started laying eggs. You've got a 50% chance right off the bat that it was male, which would mean that it couldn't reproduce on its own. If it was female, even then there is some chance that it wouldn't start laying eggs. Usually female fleas need to drink blood after they have hatched before they can lay eggs. If you found the flea on your pet, though, it could easily be reproducing already.


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If that flea was the only one to get into your apartment, if it was a female laying eggs then you will not see anything happen for at least a couple of weeks. The eggs have to hatch, become larva, and then become pupa (a cocoon).

One problem is that it would be really tough to be sure that this flea was the only one. Others might have snuck in that you just didn't find yet.

My suggestion would be that before you spend money treating the apartment, you go with one of the cheaper options: boric acid. It's a powder that you sprinkle in your carpet, and it is a natural insecticide. Vacuum regularly as well (this will get some of them, but also speeds up the life cycle which you want). Boric acid isn't usually the most effective option, flea medicines are, but since you don't have a flea problem yet I think it would be worth spending $10 or so on it to try to nip it in the bud. 

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