How Can I Keep Fleas From Biting Me?
By Chris Williams on July 28, 2014.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been bitten by fleas in my home. I don’t see them biting me, but every day I find a couple of new bites, on my arms mostly. How can I get rid of these fleas? –C. P., Londonderry, NH
Fleas Bite People Only As a Last Resort
If you are truly being bitten, I would seriously question whether the bites are from fleas. You don’t say whether you have a pet or pets. Cat fleas (the most common fleas on pets) do not normally bite people if they have another animal to feed on. Even then, the bites are typically found around the ankles and on the legs.
Normally, fleas would not leave the pets they are living on to bite people unless there are unusual circumstances, such as: (1) the flea infestation is so large that fleas are actually being forced out to find new hosts, (2) the pet has just been treated for fleas and fleas are leaving the pet to escape the pesticide, or (3) a person, usually a child, is sleeping with or cuddling the pet so closely that fleas are being disturbed and transferred.
There are other unusual situations where fleas might bite people when there are no pets present:
- If the pet has died or been removed from the home, new fleas that develop from larvae still in the house would not have a pet to feed on and might jump onto people instead.
- People might move into or visit a place where there had previously been a flea-infested animal. There might be new, hungry adult fleas just waiting for something to feed on.
- There could be feral cats, raccoons, opossums, rodents, or other wild animals living in a crawlspace or basement. Fleas from these animals could be moving up into the living space, especially if the wild animals have been removed.
If any of the scenarios mentioned above fit your situation, you should contact an exterminator for a flea inspection and treatment of certain areas in your home, if necessary. Note that a pest control technician cannot treat for pests unless evidence of pests can actually be found. Any pets will have to be treated at the same time as your home. If there are no fleas, you need to consider other possibilities for your bites.
Plenty of Other Things Can Cause “Bites”
If fleas are biting you, you should be able to see them; they are not microscopic. There are many other possible explanations for “bites” and not all of them are insects or mites. These are some of the other pests that can leave bites: mosquitoes, chiggers, certain other mites, bed bugs, biting midges, and spiders, to name a few. Often though, what people perceive as “bites” are actually skin conditions resulting from dermatitis or other medical problems. A dermatologist may be able to help.
By Content Provider(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) / Janice Carr [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons