The age-old question… do fleas die in the winter? So many people believe that once the winter chill sets in there is no longer any danger of flea attacks. And yes, fleas are more active during the warm summer months. However, the fact of the matter is that most fleas are active all year-round. And 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. However, since all of us heat our homes in the winter, we provide fleas with a year-round breeding ground. How to combat that? Turning the heat off surely isn’t the answer. Luckily there are ways for you to repel these nasty pests.
The key to beating fleas at any time of year is two-fold. You have to treat your pet for fleas as well as address your environment. People forget that the largest part of the life cycle of fleas is spent living in your environment rather than on your pet. So ridding both your pets and your surroundings of fleas will be the best way to make sure that you can live flea-free all year round!
The truth about fleas
So, now you know that fleas can survive winter. Let’s get into that!
First of all, it’s important to note that new infestations of fleas in the winter are rare. Typically, the fleas that thrive in the cold months are those that have already made a home in your house or on your pets when it was still warm. However, fleas also often parasite on wild animals so this is something to consider if you live in a rural area or a lot of wild animals live 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, however, has a humid climate that allows fleas to thrive all year-round.
Adult fleas 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 will not survive any matter if they are still developing or they already are full-blown adults. Why? Because fleas don’t hibernate. They can enter an inactive state for as long as five months, but they will die if they are exposed to low temperatures while in this inactive state.
Therefore adult fleas stand a greater chance of survival during winter. They don’t face a risk of death until freezing weather sets in and the freeze last for at least five days. Flea larvae and eggs, however, can’t withstand temperatures as cold as that. They are at risk of dying when the thermometer hits 60 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
So the biggest mistake that you can make is to stop treating your pets or home for fleas during the winter months. And if you have an existing flea infestation, then you definitely need to continue to deal with it to prevent a re-infestation.
Typically, when we discuss fleas people are concerned with their pets having these pests. Of course, having pets in the home does increase the risk of a flea infestation as they can pick them up in many different places and then track them into your home, and spread them around. However, fleas are more than willing to sup 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. It’s similar to cats because for felines 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, like puppies, kittens, and older animals. So 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 managing fleas. Just like you use lice comb to rid yourself of lice, there are flea combs available to do the same with your pets. This should also be a daily practice for you because although 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 and will save you from having to deal with full-on flea infestation later.
But what about your home? How to keep your home and backyard free of fleas especially since the majority of the flea population is living 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. And again, there are natural options of outdoor and home flea treatments as well as chemical ones. From powders that you shake onto your carpet and flea remedies that need to be used on bedding, floors, furniture, and even in your vacuum to ensure that fleas die when you suck them up to treatments from your grass and garden, there are a ton of options that you can choose from. And as long as you chose the option that you are actually going to use regularly all of these options will allow you and your pets to live a flea-free life no matter the season.