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Everything You Need to Know About the Flea and Tick Life Cycle

Understanding flea and tick life cycles can help you protect your pet and home.

The Flea Life Cycle

The flea life cycle typically lasts around 12 days, and adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day – which is why using flea prevention and controlling flea infestations when they do happen is essential.

A typical flea life cycle looks like this:

Understanding the 4 stages of the flea life cycle: laying eggs, larva, hatching to pupa and adult fleas.

1. Fleas enter your home

Once fleas have entered your home, carried in from your shoes or on your cat or dog’s fur, they will begin reproducing within 24 hours.

2. Adult fleas lay eggs

After a blood meal, fleas will lay eggs around the house in carpet, upholstery, clothing or car fabric, as well as in corners, behind baseboards and in other nooks and crannies. Anywhere your pet goes, flea eggs will be dropping off into the surroundings.

3. Flea eggs hatch

Flea eggs hatch much faster in warmer environments, and require a humidity level of at least 50%. Flea eggs typically cannot survive long below freezing temperatures.

4. Larvae grow to pupae

Flea eggs develop into larvae, and then pupae, before becoming adult fleas that jump on your pet, blood feed and lay new eggs, starting the process all over.

The risks associated with fleas

Fleas can spell discomfort for both our pets and for us. But in addition to causing skin irritations and relentless itching, fleas can also pass along parasites and other issues like:

The Tick Life Cycle

Ticks go through four stages throughout their life cycle: egg, larva, nymph and adult. Ticks can bite and feed on dogs and cats during their larval, nymph and adult stages:

Understanding the 4 stages of the tick life cycle: eggs, larva feeding on blood, hatching to nymphs and adult ticks.

1. Ticks hitch a ride and start feeding

Once ticks latch onto your cat or dog, they typically feed and mate right on your pet.

2. Female ticks lay eggs

When ready, female ticks will fall off your pet, where they can lay thousands of eggs in the environment.

3. The tick eggs hatch, and larvae feed

The larvae that hatch from these eggs attach to hosts like small mammals or your pet.

4. Larvae molt to nymphs

Once becoming nymphs, they find new hosts to feed again.

5. Nymphs hatch into adult ticks

Once nymphs become adults, the tick life cycle begins again

The risks associated with ticks

Ticks are especially effective at passing diseases because they feed on several hosts, molt through different life stages, require large blood meals and feed for long periods of time. And though ticks prefer warmer environments, they can survive in the cold, and even under snow, meaning they can be active all year long.

Ticks are capable of transmitting diseases to pets such as:

  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis

Breaking the flea and tick life cycles

Once you discover fleas or ticks on your pet, you’ll want to take steps to help get rid of them quickly. Find out how to help get rid of fleas in your home and how to help get rid of ticks and fleas in your yard.


Related articles:
Flea, Tick & Mosquito Seasonality & Geography
Flea Diseases in Dogs
Tick Diseases in Dogs
How to Help Get Rid of Fleas & Ticks in Your Yard

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