Last Updated on December 21, 2021 by Marco C.
Fleas are for pets and lice are for humans, right? Sure, but not entirely. If you’ve ever had a pet with fleas, you do know that the answer to the “Do fleas bite humans?” question is a definite yes. However, can fleas live on human heads and lay eggs there? Or are we just a temporary snack before they return to the dog? Let’s look into it.
Can Fleas Live On Human Heads?
Fleas are typically focused on animals such as dogs, cats, rats, ferrets, etc., but they can certainly hop on a human scalp for a while too. Hair is hair, after all, and fleas live an active “lifestyle” – constantly jumping from one host to another, looking for opportunities.
However, can fleas live on human heads and lay eggs there? That’s quite a rare thing to happen. Fleas will always prefer pets over humans and if you ever get bit by a flea, chances are that it was just “sampling” you. Once a flea tastes your blood, however, it will almost always forego a second bite and jump off to look for your pet again.
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That’s because the main difference between humans and pets – as far as fleas are concerned – is our blood. Fleas can drink human blood but it doesn’t have the right nutrients nor taste for them. So, a flea would willingly live on a human head only if there’s absolutely no other choice, i.e. if there’s no pet around.
As for the laying eggs part – fleas can lay eggs everywhere, including on human skin and scalp. However, the idea is that these eggs then fall off on the floor or furniture where they hatch over time. Once they hatch, they jump back on nearby hosts. So, while a flea can rarely lay eggs on a human’s scalp, those eggs are meant to fall down and don’t stay on during their whole life cycle.
Can Fleas Live Off Of Humans Alone?
Fleas will only choose to live on humans if there are no pets around. As our blood isn’t the right food source for them, we just don’t make good hosts for them. It’s like us trying to live on a low-nutritional diet. We can, for a while, but it’s not good for us and we won’t exactly be “healthy” while doing so.
A common situation where a flea would live on a human for the long-term is if you had a pet but it passed away or your child took it when moving out. Then, the leftover fleas and newly hatched ones will end up with only humans around them. In this situation, the fleas will have no choice but to use us as their permanent host.
So, can dog fleas live in human hair? Sure, but you won’t be the only one unhappy about it – they’ll be looking for a new host as well.
Different Types Of Fleas
When talking about fleas, we should remember that there are actually over 2,000 different species of fleas out there. This is important because different fleas do have different dietary preferences. Some types are “cat fleas” and they prefer cats with other pets being their secondary option. Others are “dog fleas” and prefer canines to felines.
For all but one type of flea, humans really aren’t a preferred food source and are nothing more than a last resort. Only the Pulex irritans flea “likes” human blood as much as pet blood but that species isn’t common anywhere in the developed world.
Can Fleas Transmit Diseases To People?
As with any parasite that alternates between animal and human blood, fleas can occasionally transmit certain zoonic diseases to humans. The most common examples of such diseases include:
- Flea-borne (Murine) Typhus – typically transmitted by Ctenocephalides felis flea cat fleas
- Tapeworms – transmitted by all types of fleas
- Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) – transmitted via a scratch by a cat that has itself been infected by a Ctenocephalides felis flea
- Plague – transmitted by the Oropsylla Montana ground squirrel flea or the Xenopsylla cheopis oriental rat flea
Can You Get A Flea Infestation Even When The Pet’s Not Home?
You can, it’s not that uncommon. The three main ways that’d happen are these:
- You had a pet that moved out, escaped, or passed away and left a flea infestation after it
- You have animals or pests living in the attic or basement and they brought fleas into your home
- You yourself got fleas from outside and brought them in
Can Fleas Live On The Furniture and Carpet?
That’s indeed the main place flea larvae hatch. After the adult flea lays her eggs in your pet’s fur, they typically fall on the carpet, furniture, bed, or even your shoes. There, the larvae feed on the predigested blood the mother has left for them inside the egg.
When they hatch, they form a cocoon and live in that state until they feel the thermal or physical presence of a mammal – usually just you or your pet stepping on them or passing by them. Then, they hatch and they start jumping around, looking for their first breakfast.
How To Deal With A Flea Infestation?
As you can see, fleas have a multi-step life cycle. Adult fleas spend most of their time on our and our pets’ bodies, they can also be found jumping around, looking for a new host, and the larvae are often spread all over the place, waiting to hatch. And, while an adult flea lives for only a couple of weeks, a cocooned one can remain in stasis for up to 6 months, waiting for a host to come by.
- This last part means that getting rid of fleas has to be a holistic approach. You’ll need to:
- Treat your pet with an anti-parasite product
- Fully bathe and disinfect yourself
- Vacuum and disinfect your entire home, all furniture, carpet, beddings, surfaces, as well as clothes.
If even a couple of fleas or eggs are left undestroyed, you can be looking at a second infestation mere weeks later.
In Conclusion – Can Fleas Live On Human Heads and What Can You Do About It?
Fleas can bite people occasionally and even use us as semi-permanent hosts if there are no animals around. This is unfortunate but isn’t something you can’t deal with. Just get the washing machine going, fully clean your home, and jump in the bath yourself. A thorough cleaning of the home and everyone in it is almost always enough to get rid of fleas.