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How Long Can Fleas Live Without Oxygen?

multiple dead fleas on a white background

Fleas are tiny insects that reside on the fur of both animals and humans. They survive by sucking blood from their hosts. They are prevalent in all climates. A flea’s life cycle is divided into three stages: egg, larva, and adult.

Fleas are parasites that dwell in mammals’ and birds’ blood. They live in the fur of animals and may jump up to 20 inches high. Fleas feed on blood by piercing the skin with their mouthparts, resulting in the formation of a little tube-like structure called a proboscis.

If a person is allergic to flea saliva, flea bites can cause itching, skin irritation, and even allergic responses. It is critical to understand how long fleas survive on humans since identifying the source of the infestation allows you to take action to eradicate it.

The usual lifespan is up to 8 or 9 months. However, this varies depending on environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and food availability. Keep reading to know more about how long fleas can live without oxygen.

You flea bombed your house, but you think you still may have fleas? Check out our post How Long Do Fleas Live After Bombing? to find out just how long fleas live after you bomb.

Do Fleas Need to Breathe?

Yes! Like any other parasite or mammal, fleas must breathe to stay alive and active.

How Do Fleas Breathe?

Diagram of human lungs breathing

Before we go into how fleas breathe, let us first explain how people breathe. We suck air in via our mouths and nose, the air flows to our lungs, which transfers the oxygen into our blood, and the blood transports the oxygen to our cells.

Fleas breathe through spiracles, which are apertures on the surface of their bodies. The oxygen is then transferred to the trachea, which is the respiratory system. It then branches into thin tubes called tracheoles, which go through the flea’s body, providing oxygen straight into its cells.

As you can see, fleas breathe quite differently from people. We breathe via our mouths, but fleas breathe through their bodies. Humans have lungs, whereas fleas have not. We utilize blood to deliver oxygen to our cells, whereas fleas transfer oxygen directly to their cells.

Do Fleas Need Air to Survive?

Blue sky with wispy clouds

Fleas can only survive without a host and air for one to five days. They can live for up to two weeks if they have access to fresh air but no host.

Fleas can only survive in temperatures ranging from 32°C to 70°C and cannot survive at more than 50% humidity levels. Changing the environment in which fleas reside may result in the elimination of flea infestation.

Can You Suffocate Fleas?

2 food storage containers isolated on a white background

Unlike humans, fleas are excellent at surviving without oxygen and would die within a few minutes if we didn’t obtain oxygen; therefore, suffocating fleas will take some time.

How Long Does it take to Suffocate a Flea?

Fleas can only survive without a host and air for one to five days. They can live for up to two weeks if they have access to fresh air but no host. So, if you want to kill your fleas, they only have a few flaws, and they are tough insects that can withstand even the worst conditions. Fleas, however, require both air and a host to survive. Fleas require oxygen to survive.

According to recent research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, fleas that dwell on burrowing animals die quicker than other fleas because there is insufficient ventilation in underground tunnels.

Can fleas live in an empty house with nothing to feed on? Check out our post How Long Can Fleas Live in an Empty House? to learn more.

How Long Can a Flea Hold its Breath Underwater?

overhead view of a metal bowl full of water on hardwood floors

A flea can survive in water, but it will ultimately drown if submerged; it takes at least 24 hours, so taking your dog for a swim is not an efficient approach to eliminate fleas.

The first question you need to ask is whether fleas can jump out of water? No, fleas cannot jump out of water because there is insufficient tension on the water’s surface for the flea to jump. The only way they could utilize their muscular legs to leap was to discover a tangible object in the water, such as a leaf, and then use that to jump out of the water.

Do Fleas Die in Water?

dead flea on a speckled surface

If you remove a flea from the water during those 24 hours, it can be resurrected; however, the longer the flea is in the water, the more likely it will drown.

Fleas do not drown readily because their cuticles are wax-covered, repelling water and rendering them unwettable. The oil-like covering lets fleas travel about the host’s hair, not to keep them from drowning, although it gives them the capacity to resist water.

There is a suggestion that the cuticle wax extends into the trachea, preventing water from entering the respiratory system and allowing them to survive a brief immersion in water. Because of their size and the water-repellent cuticle wax, if you put a flea into the water, it will continue floating on its surface, where it will thrash around until it reaches a place where it can crawl out.

To drown the fleas, immerse them in water for long enough to drown; otherwise, they will float back to the surface; this can be accomplished with a simple solution; of soapy water.

Soapy Water Solution

close up of soapy water

You need to add soap to the water, such as washing up liquid/dish soap, and the flea will break the surface of the water, sink to the bottom, and die since the washing-up liquid contains surfactants that lessen the surface tension of the water.

They don’t die immediately; it takes at least 24 hours to drown, so keep the fleas in the water for at least that long if you use this approach. As you comb fleas from your dogs, just place them in a dish of soapy water and allow them to drown, but remember to keep them there for at least 24 hours.

There is one little flaw with this procedure: the amount of suds. The fleas may utilize the suds to get on and save themselves from drowning. Therefore when adding washing up liquid to the water, slowly swirl it in rather than foaming it up.

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