How to Detect Fleas?

Aug 31, 2022 | Fleas

How to Detect Fleas?

No one wants to share their home with any type of bugs, and fleas can be some of the worst for you, your family, and your pets. Aside from causing bites and irritation, these pests can actually spread many different diseases. In fact, were once responsible for the spread of the plague. But how do you know if you have a flea infestation? How do you check for fleas in your home? Here we take a closer look at these pests, how to identify them, how to check for fleas in your house, and what to do when you find fleas.

Key takeaways

  • Fleas can cause skin irritation and spread diseases.
  • Begin flea inspections with pets.
  • Signs of flea infestation include scratching, patchy hair, and flea dirt.
  • Use a flea comb and soapy water to check for fleas.
  • Perform white sock test and examine carpets for flea dirt and eggs.

What are fleas?

Fleas are small, tiny insects that survive by feeding on animals and, in some cases, human blood. Their bites can cause skin irritation and itchiness. When these insects bite, in addition to feasting on blood, they can spread a variety of different diseases and conditions, such as cat scratch disease, haemobartonellosis, tapeworms, and flea allergy dermatitis, which can be dangerous for both humans and pets.

How to identify fleas

Fleas are tiny insects that are dark reddish-brown in color. They have a flat body with six long legs and antennae. They have an oval body shape with no wings. Because of their size, flea identification can often be difficult and most often you will notice signs of an infestation well before you even see your first flea.

Domestic cat sitting on the carpet scratching

How to check for fleas in the house

Checking for fleas in your house begins with an understanding of where fleas actually live. In your home, this includes three main places for inspection: Your pets, your carpets and furniture, and your yard. Because fleas feed on blood, flea inspections should always begin with your pets.

1. Inspect your pets

If you notice a change in your pet’s behavior that includes frequent scratching or head shaking, it may be a good time to check for fleas. When these insects bite your pet, they can discomfort and irritation, likely to result in scratching. Other signs that your pet may have fleas can include:


    • Patchy Hair or Hair Loss
    • Red Skin
    • Pale Gums
    • Restlessness
    • Flea Dirt (flea feces)

How to inspect your pet for fleas

The best way to check your dog or cat for fleas is to do a thorough inspection. In order to do this, you will need a flea comb and a bowl of soapy water. Using the comb, slowly comb through your pet’s fur, taking a moment after each stroke to examine the comb for live fleas or flea dirt. If you find any fleas or what you believe to be flea dirt, place it in the bowl of soapy water. When in water, flea dirt will appear red in color. If you find any signs of fleas, it is necessary to treat your pet and your home for infestation.

2. Inspect your home

If you find fleas on your pet, you can expect to find them within your home. There are a number of different tests you can do to detect the presence of fleas in your home.

Unexplained bites

Fleas that are living on your carpet or other areas of the home are constantly looking for a food source. If they don’t find your pets, they are likely to find you or other family members. Fleas are most likely to bite humans around the legs and ankles and their saliva often triggers an allergic reaction, resulting in small red bumps. If you experience these bumps, chances are you may have fleas in your carpets.

White sock tests

White socks are another great way to identify fleas in your carpets. Put on a pair of clean white socks and shuffle around your carpets. If there are adult fleas present on the carpet, they will likely jump and try to hitch a ride on your socks, appearing as small brown or black flecks on the socks.

Check carpets for flea dirt

While fleas tend to lay eggs in your pet’s fur, they often fall off into your carpets or other areas where your pests rest. In some cases, fleas will also lay eggs on your carpet. In addition, your carpets may also be filled with flea dirt. Examining your carpets for eggs and dirt may require the use of a magnifying glass and a damp cloth. Using the magnifying glass, you can examine the carpet fibers, looking for flea eggs. These eggs are tiny white ovals. To examine your carpets for flea dirt, simply rub a damp, light-colored cloth across the carpet. Flea dirt will appear as red streaks on the cloth.

Use heat and water

Fleas are attracted to heat, so one method of testing for fleas is the lamp and water test. Place a small lamp or light source on the floor. Fill a small bowl with warm, soapy water and place the bowl under the light source. Make sure the light is shining over the water bowl. Fleas will be attracted to the light and jump up towards it, landing back down in the bowl of soapy water, which will kill them.

3. Inspect your yard

When it comes to inspecting your yard, you want to look in areas that are shady and moist, such as under porches and trees. For this inspection, you can also use a pair of tall, white socks and simply shuffle through the area inspecting for the presence of fleas on your socks.

Vet examining a white dog with brown ears for fleas.

Eliminating fleas at home

While there are many at-home remedies for fleas, professional extermination is the best form of treatment to guarantee that your home is and remains flea-free. It is important that when you have your home and yard treated, you also have your pets treated for fleas to remove all fleas from the home. Once eradicated, talk with your veterinarian about flea protection for your pets to reduce the risk of them bringing in new fleas after an adventure.

Preventing fleas at home

Preventing fleas in your home is a multi-stage process that begins with your pets. To start, you want to talk with your veterinarian about flea control products that will help keep your pets flea-free. In addition, you want to limit your pet’s time outdoors and any contact with wild animals. Routine bathing can help identify fleas before they become a serious problem.

After checking your pets, focus on prevention in the home. This includes regular vacuuming of carpets and rugs, as well as upholstered furniture. In addition, clean bedding and pet bedding regularly in warm soapy water.

Finally, you want to focus on your yard. Mowing the grass on a regular basis helps to keep it short and expose the soil to the sun, reducing the chance fleas will take up residence. Remove any yard debris where fleas are likely to gather. In addition, do everything possible to keep rodents and small pests away from the home as they carry fleas. This can include storing pet food in sealed containers, keeping lids on outdoor garbage cans, and sealing up any potential entry points into your home that these rodents may take advantage of.

Flea-free for your family and pets

Keeping your home flea-free is a constant process that involves many different aspects. Unfortunately, Fido can bring home fleas at any time so it is important to do everything you can to prevent flea infestation and keep your family and pets safe. If you suspect a flea infestation, it is important to address it immediately and your best course of action is professional pest treatments.

Happy family with mother, father, son, and brown dog.

At Arrest a Pest, we understand how frustrating fleas can be. Our team works with you to eradicate the fleas as well as create a prevention plan that keeps the fleas away for good. To learn more about how we can help, request an appointment today.

Adam Judnich

Adam Judnich

Owner @ Arrest A Pest

Serving the entire Coachella Valley

Arrest A Pest is your top-rated pest and bug control solution in the Coachella Valley! As a family-owned and operated business, our technicians grew up in the Coachella Valley and have a deep understanding of the pests in our area.

We understand that every pest infestation is an emergency, and we offer quick, safe, and thorough pest solutions and preventions for your home or business. No matter what pests are invading your space, our technicians are armed with state-of-the-art technology designed to rid your home or business of pests and help you stay pest-free long into the future.

Contact us today to schedule your FREE evaluation and let our team send the pests packing!

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