Fall is peak flea season

What to know and how to handle the fall surge

7 minute read

A dog runs through a yard during the fall with leaves on the ground

Guess who’s joining the party this fall? Yep, that's right – fleas. As we creep closer to season, those little critters are getting all amped up for their prime time. In fact, the fall “flea surge” could increase the number of fleas trying to find a home on our animals by 70% versus the summer months. If you have a furry friend, you’ll want to be prepared to prevent flea infestations, and if it happens, know what to do. But why is fall fleas’ big moment?

As temperatures start to cool down after the hot summer months, many regions experience a more comfortable and conducive environment for fleas to thrive. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Moderate temperatures: As fall arrives, the temperature lowers and stays near 70 degrees for a while, creating an ideal environment for fleas to reproduce and develop.
  2. Fall showers: In some regions, fall can bring increased rainfall. Flea larvae thrive in damp environments, and the moisture from fall showers can create favorable conditions for their development.
  3. Animal activity: During fall, pets and wildlife are more active outdoors because it’s easier for them to regulate their body temperature when things cool off. More time outside increases the chances of fleas hopping onto animals and being carried into homes.

Fleas try to hide, but here’s where you’ll find them.

Fleas lurk outdoors, particularly in shady and humid spots like moist leaf piles, shrubs, tall grasses, and dirt. That cozy hole your dog loves to dig? It might be harboring these unwelcome guests. The leaf pile your pets and kids love to leap in, yes it can have fleas too. Two young kids lay on a bed of leaves outside

Moist leaf piles are loved by pets, kids, and fleas! It’s a smart idea to treat the yard, leaf piles, and use a bug repellent on the ones you loved to protect them.

When brought into the home, fleas love to lurk in pet beds, blankets, carpets, mattresses, and furniture. Pet fur is the perfect place for fleas to hide and lay their eggs. Humans can also pick fleas up in their shoes or on their clothing after being in nature or around other animals. Regardless of how they appear in your environment, you should act quickly to kill the fleas and prevent future infestations. 

These parasites can jump up to 8 inches vertically so they can easily reach your pet, their bedding, and even your bedding.

Here's how to tell if your pet or family has been infiltrated.

Adult fleas look like black, dark brown or reddish brown specks. They’re about 1-3 mm long and they move fast, making them hard to see. Then there’s flea dirt. It looks like tiny dark flecks and is the feces of adult fleas.

Check if your pet has fleas:

    • Use a flea comb to check their fur, especially on their neck, belly, groin, and tail. Look for fleas that aren’t fast enough to evade your sight.
    • Skin Irritations: Red spots or sores on your pet's skin could be the handiwork of fleas.
    • Rub your pet (or their bedding) with a wet white cloth. This may reveal flea dirt: flea waste that resembles tiny bloody or black specks.
    • Excessive Scratching: If your pet's scratching more than a DJ at a party, fleas might be the culprits.
    • Hair Loss: Legs and the base of the tail are prime areas where overzealous scratching leads to hair loss.
    • If you’re still not sure if your pet has fleas, consult with your veterinarian.
If you have pets and they're scratching excessively, it's possible that they have fleas, and there's a chance some of these fleas might transfer to you. Humans have some tell-tale signs, too:
    • Itchy, red bites: Flea bites on humans often appear as small, red, itchy bumps, usually in clusters or lines. They are commonly found on areas like ankles, feet, lower legs, and around the waist.
    • Skin irritation: Flea bites can cause localized skin irritation, redness, and swelling. Scratching these bites can lead to secondary infections.
    • Tiny black specks: Flea droppings, also known as "flea dirt," are small black specks that resemble ground pepper. They may be visible on your skin, clothing, or bedding.
    • Unexplained Itchiness: If you're experiencing unexplained and persistent itching, especially after spending time in areas where fleas might be present, it could be a sign of flea activity.
    • Visual confirmation: In rare cases, you might actually spot fleas on your skin or clothing. Adult fleas are small, dark reddish-brown insects, about the size of a pinhead, and they move quickly.

Fleas can get out of hand fast.

Fleas go through four life stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. Adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day and over 2,000 eggs in their lifetime, which is one of the reasons why a flea infestation can escalate so quickly!

Flea pupae can also remain dormant in your home for months, waiting for the right conditions to emerge as adults, such as turning the thermostat up to a temp they like or increased motion near them which signals to them that a host is available. This dormancy period makes treating an infestation a multi-step process.

Fleas have taken over! What do I do now?

Keep calm, you've got this! We’re about to dish out the full flea-fighting playbook, covering your home, outdoors, and your beloved pet. Get ready for a triple-threat strategy that will have fleas packing their bags.

How to treat your pet.

    • A soapy bath. If your pet tolerates baths, remove and kill fleas with a shampoo powered by plant-based ingredients. Wondercide’s Flea and Tick Shampoo uses cedarwood and peppermint essential oils as active ingredients to fight fleas. It effectively kills and helps repel fleas on dogs and cats that are four months or older.
    • Grab the flea spray. After a bath and for pets of all ages, a flea-and-tick spray like this one is a flea-fighting essential. Spray your pet as directed at the first sign of infestation and use daily until you don’t find anymore live fleas on your furry one. If you have fleas on your pet, they’re also in your home and one of the good things about Flea & Tick spray is that it’s versatile. You can use it on your pet and throughout the house, plus it comes in four fresh scents including cedarwood, rosemary, lemongrass, and peppermint.
    • Flea collars are nifty. For lasting flea repellency, consider a flea-and-tick collar for your dog or cat. Wondercide’s Flea and Tick Collars are designed for pets that are four months or older and they’re a great layer of protection. The collars are lab proven to repel fleas and ticks, plus they smell great, too. If you prefer a spot on, Wondercide has you covered and both the collar and spot on have a fresh peppermint scent!
A woman applies a Wondercide Flea & Tick collar to her golden retreiver outside

A plant powered flea collar that’s lab proven to repel fleas is a great layer of protection during the fall flea surge.

How to get rid of fleas in your house.

    • Treat the whole house. With Flea & Tick Pets + Home, do at least one whole-house treatment. Spray as much surface area of your home as possible: carpets, area rugs, upholstery, floors, bedding, and pet bedding. Thoroughness won’t take long and is key to killing the fleas present in your home.
    • Spray favorite areas daily until you don’t see fleas. Since it’s so easy to do, go ahead and spray areas pets play and rest daily until you don’t see anymore live fleas. Living rooms and pet bedding are good places to spot treat. Use the same Flea & Tick spray from Wondercide that you used for your pet and the whole-house treatment. Easy, like we said.

A few more tips that can help.

    • Vacuum plush carpets before you spray Wondercide. That way, you’ll draw up the eggs and larvae that might be present in the fibers. Gross, we get it and you’ve got it too, like we said. If possible, use a vacuum that allows you to dispose of its contents without coming into contact with them. Dispose of the waste outside your home in a closed container after you vacuum.
    • Wash pet bedding and plush toys. Throw them in the wash machine with detergent and choose the hot water setting. Dry on your dryer’s highest setting.

Get rid of the bugs outside and fortify against future flea frenzies.

When your dog or cat has fleas, it’s also important to treat your yard. Fleas are pervasive and get everywhere. Plus, pets and people can bring in more fleas from the yard and re-start an infestation. Don’t let that happen. If you have a yard, treat it at the same time you’re taking care of the house and your pet. Here are smart yard tips:

    • Use a flea spray for your yard. Wondercide Flea and Tick Spray for Yard + Garden kills and repels adult fleas and kills flea eggs, too. Spray your whole yard twice within a week or so to get your infestation under control, then treat as needed to maintain results. The spray is safe to use around pets and the whole family, plus the residue is safe for pollinators. Another bonus: There’s no dry time needed before play time starts again.

A person in a blue Wondercide hoodie sweatshirt applies Flea & Tick Yard + Garden spray

Harnessing the power of nature, Wondercide Flea & Tick spray for yard and garden is a smart fall flea treatment to get rid of them at the source.

    • Mow your lawn regularly. Fleas love to hide in tall grass, so be sure to mow and rake your yard frequently. Bag your clippings and dispose of them in a closed bin instead of adding them to your compost pile.
    • Keep your yard tidy. Exposing as much of your yard and garden to sunlight as possible is a great method of flea prevention. Clear away yard debris regularly so fleas have fewer places to hide.
    • Avoid overwatering. Overwatering isn’t just bad for plants: it also creates humid conditions that will attract fleas.
    • Discourage wildlife that carry fleas. Squirrels, possums, and mice visiting your yard often come in with fleas. Explore humane ways to rid them from your property, like barriers, lights, and noisemakers.

Find your pre-flea bliss.

Now you're armed with the knowledge to conquer flea season like a seasoned pro. Whether you’re gearing up to prevent them from even thinking about invading your space or you’re on a mission to give them the boot, persistence pays off. So go ahead and let your furry friends frolic, and you can rest easy knowing you’ve got the upper hand in the battle against fleas.

An infographic that reads: Fall is peak flea season. The surge is coming ! As autumn arrives, so does a curious phenomenon: The number of fleas found on animals could increase to 70% more compared to spring or summer. Flea surge is driven by 2 things: The weather hovering near 70º and the rise in precipitation brings humidity and moist leaf piles. Fleas celebrate and multiply. Know who else loves warm, moist leaf piles? Doggos do! How to tell if your pet has fleas: Red spots or bumps. Scabs on the skin. Hair loss or loose fur. Pale, light gums. An early indicator that your pet has fleas: They scratch, lick, or bite their fur excessively. Fleas are very irritating for your furry one. How your flea problem can get out of hand quickly. 1 flea can lay 2000 eggs in a lifetime. In optimal conditions, within 2 weeks, each of those 2,000 eggs will be an adult that can lay another 2,000 eggs and so on and so on. Lab proven, plant-powered flea solutions: Whether you have an active flea issue or you’re trying to prevent one, Wondercide lets you protect your pack with lab proven solutions that harness the power of nature to do the job. Use as directed and you’ll be happy without fleas.