Today we’ll be examining an age-old question: Do fleas die in the winter?
Many people believe that once the winter chill sets in, there’s no longer any danger of flea attacks. Of course, fleas are more active during the warm summer months. But, the fact of the matter is that most fleas are active all year round. With winters lately being warmer than average, it’s no surprise that fleas present a bigger danger in winter than ever before. So, yes, you do still need to worry about fleas in winter.
In natural settings, the statement that fleas are inactive in winter would be true. Yet, since we all heat our homes in winter, we provide fleas with a perfect breeding ground no matter what the season. How can we combat that? Turning off the heat is definitely not the answer.
Luckily, there are ways to repel these nasty pests. The key to beating fleas at any time of year is twofold. You have to treat your pet for fleas and address your environment. People forget that fleas spend the largest part of their life cycle in your environment, rather than on your pet. So, ridding both your pets and your surroundings of fleas is the best way to make sure that you can live flea both in summer and in winter!
The Truth About Fleas
So, now you know that fleas can survive the winter.
First, it’s important to note that new flea infestations are rare in the winter. The fleas that thrive in the cold months are typically those that have already made a home in your house or on your pets when it was still warm. However, fleas are also often found as parasites on wild animals. So, this is something to consider if you live in a rural area or have a lot of wild animals near your home.
Fleas that are still developing won’t survive in the cold. Even in warmer states like California, fleas struggle in the winter months. Florida, on the other hand, has a humid climate that allows fleas to thrive all year round.
Adults and even some immature fleas can survive winter by making a home on cats, dogs, raccoons, or other animals, or in an insulated area. Yet, if fleas are exposed to near-freezing temperatures, they won’t survive. It doesn’t matter if they’re still developing or if they’re already full-blown adults. Why? Because fleas don’t hibernate. They can enter an inactive state for as long as five months but will die if exposed to low temperatures while in this inactive state.
So, adult fleas have a greater chance of survival in winter. They won’t die until freezing weather sets in, if that freeze last for at least five days. Flea larvae and eggs can’t withstand temperatures as cold as that, though. They are at risk of dying when the thermometer hits 50–60°F (10–15.5°C).
The biggest mistake that you can make is to stop treating your pets or home for fleas during the winter months. If you have an existing flea infestation, you definitely need to deal with it to prevent a re-infestation.
Flea Management: Your Pets
When we discuss fleas, people are typically concerned with their pets having these pests. Of course, having pets in your home does increase the risk of a flea infestation. They can pick them up in many different places and carry them into your home, spreading them around.
But fleas are more than willing to feast on humans as well if there are no pets present. So, even if you don’t have any pets in your home, you could still have a flea problem – especially if there are wild animals nearby and you have warm spots for them.
For dogs, there are a variety of long-term options that will protect your dog (and your home) from fleas. Those include shampoos, collars, sprays, and even wipes. For cats, there also are flea remedies like oils, wipes, and collars, among other things.
Ultimately, the best defense when it comes to dealing with fleas in both winter and summer is a good offense. Like for any illness, a strong immune system is key. Fleas typically target hosts that aren’t as healthy or that have undeveloped immune systems. These include puppies, kittens, and older animals. This means that things like your pet’s diet, immune system, and how much exercise they get each day are very important when it comes to flea control and prevention.
Grooming is another key aspect of flea management. Just like you use a lice comb to get rid of lice on humans, there are flea combs for pets. This should be a daily practice. Even though it can be time consuming and tedious to search for fleas in your pet’s coat, it will allow you to keep your pet flea free. It will also save you from having to deal with full-on flea infestation later.
Flea Management: Your Home
But what about your home? How can you keep your home and backyard free of fleas? This is especially important since the majority of the flea population will live in your yard or somewhere in your home, rather than on your pet. For this, you should treat your immediate environment to help keep them at bay.
Again, there are natural options for outdoor and home flea treatments as well as chemical options. There are a ton of options that you can choose from. These range from powders that you shake onto your carpet to specific flea remedies for bedding, floors, furniture, and even your vacuum to ensure that fleas die when you suck them up. There are also special treatments for your grass and garden.
And as long as you chose the option that you’re actually going to use regularly, all of these options will allow you and your pets to live a flea-free life, no matter what the season.