Fleas Living in Your Grass – What to Do About Them

Get rid of fleas that are living in your grass with our guide.

If people have some sort of yearning, dissatisfaction, or some itching irritability, then it might be they aren’t looking in the right direction for the problem.  They aren’t looking within…”…their back yards.  Yes, I interjected into a quote because, yes, it’s true. 

How often do you wind up with some mysterious source of “itching irritability” that leaves your skin raw and bright red from incessant scratching?

You may initially blame pesky mosquitoes, seasonal allergies, contact with an offensive plant, or even changing to a new laundry detergent.

But when you actually think about it, you realize that….

You don’t have the trademark bump from a mosquito bite.  You’re not allergic to anything.  And you buy the same detergent your mother used on your clothes as a child.

So what is this mystical culprit then, exactly?  The answer might surprise you.

Perhaps, you have fallen victim to an invasion of fleas in your yard.  That flea infestation on the family dog had to start somewhere.

Since each female flea can lay up to 200 eggs per day (and these can hatch in as little as two days), there is no time to waste.  Today we’ll cover all the following:

  • Where fleas come from
  • Different types of fleas and problems they cause
  • Where to find them on your lawn
  • Do fleas really jump
  • Preventing fleas in your yard
  • How to get rid of fleas in your yard

Let’s get into the meat of the article before these blood-sucking buggers take over entirely and it’s too late.

Where Do Fleas Come From?

It’s cute to see the awe-inspired on a child’s face when it sees a squirrel roaming innocently around your lawn.  Sometimes it’s not so innocent.

Adult fleas are partial to the blood of four-legged creatures.  Once a flea has found a suitable host, it will hold onto that animal until it is groomed off or somehow dislodged.  This is generally about eight days (1).

Female adult fleas cannot lay their eggs without feeding first.  So generally, flea eggs are laid onto the animals that host them.  Once laid, flea eggs will fall to the ground to the ground to hatch.

See the problem?

Once they have fallen to the ground, the eggs will hatch into worm-like larvae.  After about a week, like butterflies, larvae will spin cocoons to wrap themselves in.

The larvae in the cocoon will become pupae.  If food is plentiful, the pupae will emerge as adult fleas within a week.  If food is not plentiful, they can remain wrapped in that cocoon for up to a year.

The fleas will then begin seeking a food source to start the cycle all over again. 

So imagine, 200 eggs from just one flea fall to the earth and are fully mature within two weeks.  And then, those 200 new fleas EACH lays 200 more soon-to-be babies that will be fully formed within another two weeks.  In just one month, you have 40,000 fleas that are looking to reproduce.

Remember that this all started with one flea.  How many times have there ever been one flea on any animal you’ve ever seen?

When considering this number, it’s quite easy to see how these infestations come about.

And it can all begin as “innocently” as a flea-ridden squirrel scampering through your lawn.

Different Types of Fleas and the Problems They Can Cause

There are over 2,000 different types of fleas known to man.  However, there are only a handful of different species that you commonly encounter.  Let’s take a look.

Cat Fleas

Cat fleas are the most common species of flea that you will find.  They are capable of hosting on felines, dogs, wildlife, and even humans (2).

Dog Fleas

Dog fleas prey upon hosts very similar to that of cat fleas.  However, the dog flea is not as nearly widespread.

Human Fleas

Scary, right?  However, while human fleas can host on humans, they prefer to dine on pigs.

Chigoe Fleas

You have probably heard the chigoe flea called by its other name:  the sand flea.  These pests prey on people on tropical beaches.  That’s right, you can’t even get away from them while you’re on vacation.

Rat Fleas

There are two different species of rat fleas – the oriental rat flea and the northern rat flea.  These pests feed on Norway rats and roof rats.  The rat flea is dangerous because the blood they feast on is often full of diseases that can be spread.

The problems caused by all of these species are the same.  These different fleas can transmit diseases and infections that include plague, murine typhus, and cat-scratch disease. 

Also, these bugs’ bites can trigger an allergic reaction that can prove uncomfortable. 

Lastly, the flea’s ability to rapidly reproduce with a large number of offspring can quickly lead to a flea infestation.

Where Do Fleas Live?

The flea prefers to live on your dogs and cats because they are this parasite’s food source.  So definitely check your pet or pets.

But what about the areas where flea infestations begin?  What kind of environment does the flea prefer to begin its life-cycle?

Fleas prefer warm, moist and shaded areas of your lawn to begin developing.  Yard fleas thrive in piles of wood or decaying leaves.  They are what the larval stage flea will feed on and disguise itself in.

Grass fleas do not typically like  sunny, exposed areas of your lawn. 

Many times fleas will go through their entire life-cycle in the comfort of your home. 

Fleas can thrive in many different areas of your home.  Double-check the pet beds around your home as your pet is most likely what brought the fleas inside.

Walk around the carpeted areas of your home and check the rugs as well.  Dirty laundry hampers may also be a spot for fleas to hide an egg (or 200 eggs).

Do Fleas Really Jump?

Fleas don’t have wings, so they don’t fly.

What these pests do have are flat bodies and powerful legs.  And they don’t use these legs for walking.

Fleas travel by jumping from one place to another.  They jump up from the ground onto your pets and other animals to nourish themselves as well.

Most of these tiny pests can jump up to 8″.  However, the longest flea jump was reported to be 20″.

When considering the small stature of these insects, this is an impressive number. 

How To Prevent Fleas in Your Yard

Fleas show up and cause an infestation in your yard for three reasons.

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Hiding Places

So, how do you prevent them from showing up in the first place?

Mow Your Lawn

Mowing (using proper techniques and timing) will make your yard unattractive to fleas.  It is also one way to ensure a predator has easier access to them. 

If your grass is too long, then the fleas have a place to remain hidden.  If your grass is too short, then you run off the spiders and ants that eat fleas.

Clean Up Your Yard

Remove all the brush, dead leaves, and trash from around your yard.  Pay special attention to the edges, as this is where these materials often end up.  With an effective outdoor repellent treatment and a clean yard, you will have created a defensive barrier.

Be Careful How Much You Water

All animals need water to survive.  These insects are no different.  So make sure you are not using too much water on your lawn or the plants around your house. 

You also should make sure that your yard is draining correctly.  That way, you avoid any standing water.

Show Them the Light of the Day

Fleas are averse to sunlight.  Cut back overgrowth and keep the shrubs and trees pruned.  This will allow more light to shine into your lawn. 

The sun can be a natural flea repellent.

Use Cedar Mulch

Cedar is a natural flea repellent.  So not only will using it in your flower beds keep them away, but you’ll also be treated to its pleasant aroma all the time.  It’s a win-win.

Throw Out the Wildlife

Keep your dogs and felines.  Kick out anything that is not domesticated: squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and any of nature’s other furry creatures.

Set traps, don’t use birdseed, and get rid of anything in your yard that might be appealing to the wildlife roaming outside.

Clean Your Pets

By using flea treatment on your pets and keeping them clean, you have removed a viable food source.

Remember that these insects need to feed before they reproduce.  So beat them to the punch and make sure they don’t have anything to eat.

How To Kill Fleas in Your Yard

So, the invasion is upon you, and you have no other way to go but to start killing fleas.  There are a few different methods you can use to kill fleas on your property.  So, if you want to get rid of fleas for good, follow one of these treatment options.

Outdoor Flea Spray

Using an insecticide spray is the quickest and most efficient pest control treatment to kill these insects around your home. 

You don’t need to spray every blade of grass on your property.  These bugs will not survive long in sunny areas or on heavily traveled portions of turf anyway.

Spray in places the insects are likely to be found like moist leaves and debris or decaying wood.  You can also spray your chosen pest control product where the dog plays or where the cat lies.  These are all sections of your property where fleas may like to hide.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, made from fossils of small aquatic organisms, is a natural pest control treatment to eliminate fleas.

The diatomaceous earth kills the insect by drying out the oils in its exoskeleton.  It can be used in either its dried form or sprayed as a liquid.

Nematodes

Nematodes are tiny, worm-like creatures that live under the soil.  Nematodes will not kill fleas in their adult stage of life.  Instead, they consume the insect in their larval and pupal stages.

They can be bought and mixed with water and sprayed or sprinkled onto the grass and other places on your property.

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Happy Planting!

About the author: Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at TheGreenPinky. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.

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