Can Fleas Travel Through Apartments?


Apartment living has become more popular than ever before these days. This is because they solve an important housing problem especially in urban areas. That said, since people tend to move from one apartment to another, this can be a challenge when it comes to controlling the pests that infest these spaces such as fleas.

The design flaws of these apartments can also provide a sufficient way for fleas to travel from one unit to the other.  Units in these apartments share facilities such as plumbing works, electrical ways, and also ac vents which facilitate the ease of movement.

Additionally, fleas also travel on the edges of clothing and can be transferred from place to place by pets. They can also hitch a ride on the backs of animals that frequent the apartments such as rats, bats, and squirrels. Plus, a flea’s eggs can survive under a carpet for several months. When a new person moves into the space, their vibrations will cause the eggs to hatch in seconds, starting a new wave of infestation. 

Fleas and their Origin

Fleas are blood-sucking parasites that live on the surface of their host. They transmit some diseases predominantly the Black Death which devastated Europe in the mid ages and caused the loss of two hundred and fifty thousand lives.

They are wingless blood-sucking parasites and move through leaping from one place to another. They are about one millimeter in length. Their hosts mostly include birds and animals such as pets and humans.

The species of fleas is about two thousand with only two that are well adapted to feeding on the blood of pets and humans. One of them is Ctenocephalides canis which are small adaptive genus of flea that exploit cats and dogs and can transmit tapeworm from dogs to humans. Ctenocephalides felis is the other species whose host is mainly cats and dogs.

The life cycle of fleas is four which starts from the egg, larva, pupa, and finally adult. The female must feed on blood to reproduce. They lay about twenty to thirty eggs in a day which hatch into larvae after two to seven weeks.

The small larva is immobile and mostly feeds on dried bits of skin and dried blood. Mature fleas feed on blood from their host and quickly pass out fecal matter which intern sustains their offspring. The growth of the eggs to maturity mostly depends on the species and the type of environment.

All fleas have a compressed body that enables them to navigate rapidly on the surface of their host. They also have spines which enables them to anchor themselves firmly on the hair and feathers. Their mouth is well adapted to sucking blood and firm puncturing of the host’s skin enables the flea to spend most time anchored.

Fleas are attracted mostly to pets such as dogs and cats but occasionally they can adapt to human blood in the absence of the preferred host.  The fleas are carriers of diseases that they can transmit to human beings such as bubonic plague which originates from dead rats. Other than that, they are responsible for the mushrooming of several infections in mammals and rodents.

Can fleas travel through apartment walls?

Yes, they can. Since most apartments share some common amenities such as plumbing and electrical causeways that go through the walls, the fleas can easily leap in these and get to your apartment from an infested apartment.

Since the main host of these parasites is pets, they can easily be deposited in the apartment if you have pets or even furry items. When pets are heavily infested with fleas, they tend to scratch themselves vigorously leading to the fleas falling off their skin and onto the environment. Salivary discharge from the fleas is what causes the swelling and itchiness experienced by the pets.

Human beings react differently to the bite. Normally the reaction causes an itchy feeling caused by a reaction to the flea’s saliva and later a small, red and hard spot is formed.  The bites are usually in the ankles and legs. Once the fleas are dispersed from the host body, they tend to hide in dark corners where they are hardly interrupted.

Signs of fleas’ infestation

The most notable way of realizing an infestation is through our pets. Once the fleas invade pets, they will cause them to be itchy especially around the neck, head, groin region, and tail. Pets tend to reduce the itchy feeling by rubbing on furniture around the house and also by biting their skin.

The scratching can later lead to hair loss. Hair can also fall out some pets especially dogs that have extreme reactions to fleas leaving behind bald patches on the skin.

Flea saliva can also be an allergen to some pets leaving behind red skin. Once the flea bites the pet, it deposits its saliva which reacts with the host’s skin.  The allergic reaction can be extremely unpleasant to pets causing swelling and redding of the infested area of skin.

The presence of fleas in the apartment can also be demonstrated when someone has clusters of small, red, itchy bumps on the skin. Fleas normally bite areas around the ankle, feet, and armpits leaving being a cluster of itchy red spots. The flea’s probable area of infestation is places where people spend a lot of time, especially on the couch, bed, and sleeping quarters.

Final Thoughts

The problem of controlling or stopping a flea infestation is a tricky one mainly because of the flea’s life cycle. Fleas spend different parts of their lives in various different locations. For example, adults can spend the bulk of their time on your pets yet lay their eggs on your floor under the carpet.

The main strategy to employ here is to tackle all the four stages of their lifecycle at once. This is the only way to avoid re-infestation since all the stages can revitalize the flea population and aid the spread of these parasites.

Wash your pets regularly and make sure they have a designated sleeping area. Also, wash your beddings, rags, mats, and couches often because most pets spend time on these surfaces. In a serious situation, insecticides should be used to destroy the fleas completely.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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