Facility Management, Fleas, Pet Care Basics, Shelter and Rescue Resources
Why Fleas Surge in the Fall
August 2, 2016
When the “dog days” of summer are almost behind us, that doesn’t mean your pets can get by without flea protection. In fact, in most areas, fall is the worst season for fleas. Dr. Michael Dryden, professor of Veterinary Parasitology in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan, calls it “the fall flea surge.”
Dryden discovered that the number of fleas on animals in the fall were 70 percent higher than in the spring! He theorized that the “flea surge” occurs because in the fall there is generally an increase in precipitation and the temperatures stay around 70 degrees. Fleas thrive in these conditions. In fact, in the fall, pet owners tend to believe that their flea prevention program isn’t working because the fleas are so abundant!
Life of a Flea
Fleas reproduce very efficiently. They start feeding on the blood of your pet within fifteen minutes upon their arrival and within 24 hours, they begin to breed. Each female flea will lay approximately 28 to 50 eggs per day.
The eggs are sticky at first but after a short time, they dry and fall off your pet into the environment and can hatch within two to five days. While it’s possible to bring a flea into our environment on our clothing, unprotected pets are most likely the ones that deliver them—several at a time. “This is another reminder that cats that go outdoors at all also require protection,” Dryden notes.
Home Flea Infestation
It is also important to remember in order to effectively eliminate fleas, you must treat the environment as well as the pet. This includes the carpet, furniture, beds and yards. Dryden also notes that home infestations occurring in the fall may exceed those in spring. Flea eggs that have fallen off the pet eventually hatch into larvae. Since larvae do not like light, they burrow down into the carpet or into fabric fibers where they remain for the next seven to 14 days, preparing to become pupae.
Pupae are protected by a cocoon that the larvae spin, and they remain dormant until the conditions are right for the adult flea to emerge. The hatch can be stimulated by vibration such as vacuuming, walking or running, changes in light, carbon dioxide or the ideal temperature. Temperatures above 85 degrees encourage the dormant state, but when the temperature hovers around 70 degrees, fleas will begin hatching in very large numbers. They can live in a warm house all year round.
In the fall, pets begin getting their winter coats making them ideal homes for fleas to feed and breed. The thicker coat also makes it more difficult to groom fleas off. Finding an effective flea preventative for your dog or cat is important. The Revival Flea & Tick Finder is a free and easy way to find the right flea preventative for your dog or cat.
External Parasites in Dogs Webinar
How to get rid of fleas on dogs? How to prevent ticks on dogs? How do I get rid of ear mites in dogs? Get answers to your most common questions when it comes to external parasites on dogs.
How to Prevent Fleas on Dogs and Cats : 3 Step Flea Prevention Plan
Get rid of fleas on cats and dogs with a three-step flea prevention plan. This detailed plan gives you the best flea control for pet, home and yard.
Flea Control Plan for Fall
Do fleas get worse in the fall? The best way to prevent fleas in your home and yard is to attack them in the fall. Follow this fall flea strategy to learn how to get rid of fleas in the fall.
Flea Problem: Complications of Flea Infestations
What problems can fleas cause in dogs and cats? Learn about flea tapeworms and flea anemia and how to prevent flea infestation.
Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.