What Do Fleas Look Like?

What Do Fleas Look Like?

Fleas, those pesky little critters that seem to appear out of nowhere, can be a pain to deal with. They’re not just a nuisance; they can be a real problem for you and your pets. Not only do they bite and cause itchy, red welts on your skin, but they can also spread diseases and parasites like tapeworms.

Whether you’re dealing with a full-blown infestation or simply want to be proactive, it’s important to know what fleas look like so you can properly identify and eliminate these unwanted house guests.  


 Fleas may be small, but don’t let their size fool you—these pesky insects can get around. Measuring just 1/12 to ⅙ inches in length, these reddish-brown or dark-colored parasites are easily recognizable to the naked eye. 

Fleas have a flattened, hunched shape along with two antennae and six legs. Fleas have backward-pointing bristles along their bodies so they can move quickly and easily through hair, fur, and feathers, making them a particularly pesky problem for pet owners.

Sometimes people assume that fleas can fly because of the large distances they can cover relative to their small size. However, fleas don’t have wings. Their strong hind legs allow them to jump up to 7 inches in a single leap, making it easier for them to move around and evade detection.


If you’re facing a flea infestation, then chances are you have flea eggs nearby as well. Flea eggs are also very small—about the size of a grain of salt—and are white in color. They’re very hard to spot with the naked eye, but if you’re able to get a close look, you’ll see that they’re oval-shaped. 

Are you familiar with the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to fleas. If you find success in getting rid of an adult flea or two, don’t celebrate too soon. Chances are there may be many more fleas nearby, including their eggs, even if you can’t see them.

Fleas can lay up to 40 eggs per day. When flea eggs hatch, they produce flea larvae about 1/4 inch long that are whitish yellow in color. 

It’s often easy to spot what’s called “flea dirt” or “flea debris” in infested pets’ fur. This substance looks like small black specks and is usually found where the fleas have been feeding. It’s typically a combination of flea feces, eggs, and larvae.

If you suspect you’ve spotted fleas, larvae, or their debris, contact the professionals at Moxie Pest Control for help. 


Outdoors, fleas gravitate toward damp, cool areas such as trees, tall grass, and areas that offer ample shade. Inside, fleas are commonly found on pets, carpets, and other fabrics. 

Remember, fleas are jumpers and can move from host to host (or host to hiding spot) very quickly. If you suspect you have a flea infestation, it’s important to know where to look in order to identify and eliminate them properly. Here are some common areas to pay close attention to: 

  • If you’re a pet parent, keep an eye on your pets. Pay special attention to the fur around their ears, neck, back, and stomach. It’s also a good idea to regularly look at pet beds and kennels to make sure there’s no evidence of fleas.
  • Check your carpets, rugs, curtains, and upholstered furniture. If you have pets that favor a specific chair or spot on your living room rug, these areas may be more heavily populated with fleas. 
  • Inspect bedding and bed linens for possible adult fleas, eggs, and larvae. Pets that sleep in the bed can increase the likelihood of transmitting fleas into these areas. 


A Flea Test: Have you tried the “white sock” check? Grab a pair of white socks, slip them on, and take a stroll throughout your house. Pay special attention to the areas mentioned above. Then, check your socks for any fleas that may have jumped on. The dark fleas, though small, will stand out against the light-colored fabric. 



If you’re wondering if your furry friend has fleas, there are a few indications you can look out for. One of the most obvious indicators is if you notice your pet scratching or biting themselves more than usual. This could be a clue that they’re itchy from flea bites. 

Another symptom to look for is if you notice small, black specks on their fur. Chances are this may be flea feces or “flea dirt.” And lastly, if you can see little reddish-brown bugs crawling on your pet’s skin or in their fur, those are most likely adult fleas. 

If you suspect your pet has fleas, it’s always best to take them to a veterinarian to get a professional diagnosis and treatment plan. Without simultaneously treating your pet and your home, it will likely be impossible to evict fleas from either one.


Fleas are a common household pest that can often be confused with other small bugs. Learn how to tell the differences: 



Similar to fleas, bedbugs (Cimex spp.) are reddish brown in color, flat, wingless, and have six legs. 

Both bedbugs and fleas are known to bite humans for blood meals, resulting in itchy red bumps on your skin.


Bedbugs are larger in size (about the size of an apple seed). They are typically found in mattresses and bedding. 



Ticks are small, parasitic insects typically found on animals, just like fleas. They are also known to spread diseases.


While fleas have six legs, ticks are actually arachnids and have eight legs. Flea bites tend to leave itchy, red bumps on your skin after a bite, whereas tick bites are more likely to produce a rash. Additionally, fleas bite quickly and release their prey, while ticks will latch on for days at a time.



Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are another small, wingless insect that can appear on the scalp, often being confused with fleas. 


Head lice are predominately found on the scalp of humans, specifically school-aged children. Fleas feed primarily on non-human hosts, though in areas of infestation, they will certainly bite people as well.

Lice can only crawl, while fleas can jump, making it easier for them to move from one host to the next. Lice are typically transmitted through direct head-to-head contact or via the sharing of personal items such as hats, combs, and pillows.



Carpet beetles are small insects likely to hide in fibers and carpeting.


Carpet beetles have hard exterior shells and are much larger than fleas. Fleas are flatter, and carpet beetles have a more round appearance.

Remember, you don’t have to accurately identify the type of bug in order to receive professional help. Consult the experts at Moxie if you’re unsure about what type of bug you’re dealing with.


Let’s face it, dealing with a flea infestation is no picnic. At Moxie Pest Control, our friendly field experts can help you identify these pesky intruders and get rid of them with pet- and family-friendly treatments that will protect your whole home, inside and out.


Author Bio

Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!

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