Do Fleas Die in the Winter?

There’s a popular misconception that fleas cannot survive the winter, and many pet owners therefore relax their pet’s flea treatments during those months. However, fleas are hardy creatures and have a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to making it through the winter, causing a nuisance to pets and owners alike. Despite being killed by prolonged periods of near-freezing temperatures, even then, fleas find ways to survive. In this article we’ll debunk the myth that fleas die in winter, and explain how you can best protect your pet from these pesky parasites.

Where Do Fleas Go in the Winter?

While it’s true that flea populations will reduce over the winter as they cannot survive low temperatures or low humidity, it’s a myth that fleas cannot survive at all. In fact, they are surprisingly resilient, and needn’t go far to find a suitable place to survive during the colder months.

Since we keep our homes nice and warm over the winter, fleas will happily take refuge there, allowing them to lay eggs and continue the life cycle. In fact, flea infestations can really take hold in your home in the winter months, as they will not be heading outdoors into the cold.

This is particularly the case in the homes of pet owners – fleas are very happy to wait out the winter by living on a warm-bodied host, such as your cat or dog. So contrary to popular opinion, dogs and cats certainly can get fleas in the winter.

The Flea Life Cycle

The flea’s life cycle is well adapted to surviving challenging conditions and environments.

A female flea can start laying eggs as soon as 24 hours after first biting your pet, and lots of them. In fact, female fleas can shed up to 50 eggs in a single day!

Flea eggs can then end up in all sorts of places in your home including the carpet, furniture, skirting boards and bedding.

Once the eggs hatch, any time from a couple of days to a couple of weeks later, they will exist as larvae for one to two weeks.

Do Fleas Ever Go Dormant?

Once the larvae go into the pupal phase, fleas have the ability to lie dormant for a very long time without feeding. They can only do this during their pupal phase when they are cocooned, a stage in the flea life cycle that can last up to 155 days until the environmental conditions are favourable enough for the adult flea to emerge.

During this time, the cocoon protects the developing flea from chemicals and the sticky outer coating helps it to stay buried in places like carpets.

The adult flea will emerge when it detects a suitable host nearby, such as your cat or dog, and once the female flea has had a blood meal, she can start to lay eggs once more.

How Do I Get Rid of Fleas in My House Fast?

A tailored approach is best when it comes to getting rid of fleas. Speak to your vet to discuss the best flea treatment regimen that suits your pet and their lifestyle and life stage. Your vet will be able to help you identify the best products in your individual case. This could include spot-on solutions like Frontline Plus or Effipro Duo, a household flea spray, or something else that is tailored to your pet’s needs.

Frontline Plus kills fleas within one day following treatment and will prevent flea eggs from hatching in your home. Like Frontline Plus, Effipro Duo also protects against ticks as well as fleas. 

Tip: Never use a flea treatment intended for a dog on a cat. Dog flea treatments can contain permethrin, a chemical that can be fatal for cats.

However, despite our best efforts, fleas can sometimes still take hold. When trying to get rid of them in your house, it’s worth noting that an estimated 95% of fleas will be living in the environment around you, not on your pet. Therefore, it’s important to address things like carpets, bedding and furniture in order to get rid of fleas in every stage of the life cycle.

Take a look at our blog How to Get Rid of Fleas for more in-depth advice on how to eradicate these pesky parasites from your home.

Wrapping Up: Do Fleas Die in Winter?

So, the simple answer is no, fleas don’t all die in the winter. While they certainly face more challenges during the colder months, they can easily survive in our homes and on our pets, so it’s important not to become complacent with flea treatments over the winter. Talk to your vet to find out what the best treatment would be for your pet, and always use products exactly as directed.

Shop our full range of flea and tick treatments here.

Shop flea treatment for your pet at Animed Direct

References: RSPCA, FleaScience