Can the Cold Kill Fleas? How Fleas Survive Through Winter

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It’s no surprise that there are incredibly stubborn pests out there. Bed bugs can live without food for more than year while roaches can survive through freezing temperatures. But the question remains; are fleas one of them? Can the cold kill fleas? Can they survive through the harshest season of the year?

Let’s find out.

Can the Cold Kill Fleas? How Fleas Survive Through Winter

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Fleas can’t survive frigid temperatures. They’re not biologically built for them.

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How much cold can fleas tolerate?

Fleas are very sensitive to temperature. That’s why they prefer to live in a specific environment, somewhere that isn’t too cold. To be precise, these insects can only survive in temperatures between 21°C to 30 °C (70 °F to 85 °F).

However, there’s no one specific cold temperature that fleas can die from, so anything beyond their preferred living condition is lethal to them.

Generally, though, fleas aren’t very tolerant with freezing temperatures. Adult ones slowly die off within a span of 5 days when they’re exposed to -1°C (30.2°F), and they can only live up to 10 days when it’s 3°C (37.4°F) out. Adult cat fleas, in particular, die when it’s 8°C (46.4°F) out.

Adult fleas’ non-mature counterparts, their eggs, pupas and larvae, are more vulnerable to the cold. According to Flea Science, immature eggs need at least the low-end extreme to survive. And that would be 13°C (55.4°F). Anything harsher than that will kill them.

How do fleas survive during winter?

Only specially adapted insects like roaches can stay outside during winter. Fleas, on the other hand, use other ways to stay alive during the coldest time of the year.

Fleas on wild animals, cling to their host to keep warm. They rely on their host’s body heat for warmth. They can also infest inside dens, nests and burrows where it’s warmer and protected from winter winds. Meanwhile, fleas that live in our pets’ fur rely solely on the fact that we shelter our pets inside our warm houses. So these little tricks enable this insect to live all-year round.

Fleas don’t hibernate when it’s cold

Hibernating fleas is a myth. They only seem like they “hibernate” because of the third stage in their life cycle – pupation.

When flea larvae are ready, they spin a cocoon for themselves. Just like how a caterpillar will morph into a butterfly, worm-like flea larvae turn into how fleas normally appear to us, with legs and laterally flat bodies.

During that time, the fleas go dormant. They only wake up when the fully matured flea inside the cocoon senses vibrations or carbon dioxide from a host nearby. They can stay at an inactive stage within their cocoons for about 5 months, but temperatures below 3°C (37.4°F) can kill them.

This brings us to an important thought. You shouldn’t be asking, can the cold kill fleas? Instead, what you should be wondering about is if you should continue treatments even when it’s winder.

And the answer is simple. Yes, continue your flea treatments even if it’s winter and specially when it’s done indoors. Don’t rely on the cold to fix your flea problems for you.