Fleas are a pet owner’s worst nightmares, second only to disease. What makes them more dangerous, and annoying is the fact that they can endure, and adapt to, all sorts of conditions.
Many people mistakenly believe that all it takes to handle a flea infestation of your household and pets is a bottle of flea shampoo.
While the shampoos work sometimes, they won’t be as effective if your home environment has high temperatures and humidity levels.
That brings us to the question; since fleas survive better in high temperatures, how do they react to cold temperatures? Read on to find the answer to this and other related questions.
Do Fleas Die in the Winter Months?
Well, yes but not always.
Contrary to popular belief, winter conditions (for the most part) not are not harsh enough to kill adult fleas immediately. In fact, there’s no such thing as a “wrong” temperature when it comes to fleas.
Nonetheless, immature fleas – eggs and larvae – find it difficult to cope with the extremely cold temperatures of winter, and often die within a couple of days. When exposed to constant freezing temperatures (32 degrees Fahrenheit/0 degree Celsius or lower), fleas and their young typically freeze and die within 2-10 days.
If these freezing temperatures persist for more than 10 days, all the fleas living outdoors die. However, some fleas escape death by latching onto a warm host, such as dogs or cats which provide them with some warmth to combat the winter cold.
Also, the winter weather won’t kill all the fleas that are within your house as you probably use a heater during the coldest days, which provides them with a break from the freezing cold.
So how then do flea populations survive the cruel winter months? For one, female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs in a day. During winter, these eggs fall of the pests and into your shoes, under your rugs and clothes where they stay and eventually hatch when temperatures rise a little.
Notably, freezing outdoor temperatures are very hostile to all immature flea, including eggs, which typically go bad within 10 days if the freezing persists. For eggs inside the house, or on warm hosts, the winter cold will only slow down their life cycle and not end it.
Lowest Temperatures for Fleas to Die
The lowest temperature that fleas can withstand (albeit for a couple of days) is, as mentioned earlier, 0 degree Celsius or 32 degree Fahrenheit. This is also the freezing point of water and the point where snow forms outside.
The lower the temperature gets from the freezing point, the harder it is for the little demons to survive and consequently, the faster they die. That being said, wintet temperatures are rarely consistent, with some days being slightly warmer than others, which gives fleas, particularly those living in hosts or indoors, an opportunity to regain their health.
Will Fleas Die in the Freezer?
Earlier on, we mentioned how fleas thrive in areas with high humidity levels and warm temperatures. A typical freezer contains very dry air and sub-zero temperatures, both of which give fleas a hard time.
If you suspect that your pets may have spread some fleas into your clothes, or rugs, just fold them nicely and wrap them in plastic then dip them in the freezer. Within a few hours, all the adult fleas, eggs, and larvae inside the cloth will be dead.
Will Flea Egg Die Below Freezing Temperature?
If freezing-point temperatures can kill adult fleas, imagine what below freezing temperatures can do to a small flea egg? Usually, when exposed to sub-zero temperatures for more than 24 hours, the unhatched eggs go bad and become waste.
However, some fleas may hide their eggs in warm crevices, such as inside your shoes, or on your dog’s rugs, which gives them a shot at survival. As such, don’t assume that you are safe from recurring infestation, even after several days of below freezing temperatures.
Keep an eye open for any potential hiding spaces, and carry out all the necessary precautions, and mitigating measures.
How to Control Fleas in Your Yard?
When fleas infest your yard, it’s only a matter of time before they are running riot in your house, courtesy of your feet, or pets. To avoid that, it’s important to thoroughly cleanse your yard and make it difficult for pests to survive and thrive. Here’s some ways to go about it:
- Clear the Yard – Remove all toys, junk and other unnecessary items from your yard to prevent them from being places of refuge for the fleas. Also, regularly mow your lawn and cut out all surrounding weeds and debris to create a clear line of vision for when you are applying treatment.
- Use Beneficial Nematodes – These are basically microscopic organisms that feed on common pests like fleas, termites and mosquitoes but are 100% harmless to pets and humans. You can purchase a tin from your local Home Depot, or Amazon.
- Use Commercial Insecticides – There are lots of insecticides in the market designed to eliminate fleas and you can always give them a try. Ideally, pay more attention to the areas of the yard that your pets frequent a lot, as well as their shelters.
- Trear Your Pet – We’ve talked about how fleas hide themselves in the warm furry coats of dogs and cats. From the unwillingness hosts, the pesty insects drop to the ground when the pets are playing, which could lead to a re-infestation of the yard. As a precaution, it is advisable to first spray your domestic animals then lock them up before spraying the yard.
- Keep Things Dry – Fleas thrive, and reproduce very fast in moist environments and hence the need to keep your yard dry always. In particular, don’t over-water the plant therein, and most importantly, ensure that all the bushes and trees are pruned and trimed to ensure direct sunlight reaches every corner of the yard, as fleas can’t survive exposure to hot temperatures for long periods.
Once fleas get into your home, they will never completely leave – just like a bad virus.
However, you can significantly reduce their population and hamper reproduction by employing the methods listed above. If you establish a good flea control pattern, you will be on your way to a flea-free household.