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Flea Eggs: 10 Questions to Help Identify and Eliminate Them

Cat and dog lying together on couch
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As the weather turns warmer, pet parents are ready to venture into backyards and backwoods with their four-legged besties. The warmer weather also coaxes fleas to hatch from their eggs. As anyone who has ever dealt with a flea problem knows, they are tricky pests to beat.

Fleas reproduce at lightning speed. A single flea can lead to a full-blown infestation in just a few weeks. Because fleas and their eggs are so small, many people don’t notice them before they become a major problem.

Here is everything you need to know to get rid of flea eggs and prevent an itchy invasion.

What Do Flea Eggs Look Like?

Microscopic view of a flea egg shape

Flea eggs look like very tiny grains of rice. They are tiny ovals, rarely bigger than 0.5 mm (1/50-inch)—about the size of a grain of sand or salt. They can be bright white, off white, or translucent.

It is common for people to confuse fleas with dandruff, but there are telltale differences. Unlike flat flakes of dandruff, which are irregular in shape, flea eggs are uniformly oval-shaped. Dandruff sticks to pets’ hair and is hard to remove. Flea eggs are more slippery and spread easily from place to place.

Flea Eggs vs. Flea Dirt

Don’t confuse flea eggs with flea dirt—the digested blood that adult fleas leave behind as waste. Flea dirt looks more like flecks of black pepper than the salt-like eggs. Flea dirt clumps easily and sticks to dogs’ fur and skin. Like the eggs, flea dirt is an urgent signal that fleas are not far away.

Can You See Flea Eggs on Dogs and Cats?

Person using a comb on a dog to weed out flea eggs

Because they are so tiny, it’s hard to see flea eggs on your pet—especially if your pet has light-colored fur. And, since the eggs fall from animals so easily, pets don’t usually have large numbers of eggs at one time.

There are a few tricks you can use to confirm whether there are flea eggs on your dog or cat. First, have a magnifying glass handy to help you see what you’re looking at. Start by checking fleas’ favorite places to hide. This includes the haunches, the base of the tail, the nape of the neck, and between the shoulder blades. If you’re having difficulty spotting the tiny white eggs on your dog or cat, use that magnifying glass to check your pet’s favorite lounge areas.

Using a flea comb can also be helpful to track down flea eggs on your pet. Its long, fine teeth get between hairs to filter out the tiny white eggs. A flea comb will also reveal flea dirt on your pet.

To use a flea comb, run it gently but firmly through the fur to separate the hairs. Go slowly so you can see the skin beneath. Make sure to do this outside if possible, so eggs don’t spray onto the floors and carpet while you comb. Flea eggs on cats are usually easier to comb out due to the softer fur. They can be a little tougher to see and extract from dog fur.

How Long Does It Take for Flea Eggs to Hatch?

Adult fleas can only lay their eggs after they’ve bitten an animal. This little snack is charmingly known in the pest world as a “blood meal.” After that, the eggs can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to hatch.

“The warmer and more humid it is, the faster the life cycle will go,” says Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a staff doctor at NYC’s Animal Medical Center who specializes in small animal internal medicine and oncology. “If it’s cooler and dryer, the process slows down until the temperature goes up.”

According to the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service, temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees and over 50 percent humidity speed up the life cycle from egg to larvae.

Where Do Fleas Lay Eggs?

Cat laying in their bed stretching

Fleas like to lay eggs near their primary food source—your dog or cat. Fleas can’t produce eggs from a diet of human blood. So, even if they bite people, they almost never lay eggs in human hair. About 36 to 48 hours after making a meal of your poor pet’s blood, a female flea will deposit her eggs into your pet’s fur—but that’s not where they stay.

“Flea eggs are like ping pong balls,” describes Dr. Michael Dryden, who recently retired from a career of teaching and research at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was known as “Dr. Flea” for his expertise. “They roll right off your dog or cat and bounce into carpets, between floorboards, in upholstery and in your pets’ bedding,” where they like to hide until they are ready to hatch.

The time it takes eggs to fall off your pet depends on how long your pet’s fur is and how active they are. However, most of the eggs will fall off within a few days. The itchiness from flea bites naturally encourages scratching. This contributes to faster shedding of dry eggs. You’ll find the most eggs in the areas of your home where your pet spends the most time.

How Many Eggs Does a Flea Lay?

An adult female flea can lay anywhere from 20 to 50 eggs a day. This depends on how much she has eaten, the temperature, and whether there are any pesticides in the environment. Over the course of a lifetime (only a few months), a single flea can lay as many as 2,000 eggs. That means that a single female flea can cause a serious infestation in a matter of weeks.

How Often Do Fleas Lay Eggs?

Closeup of a flea in a pet's fur

As long as a female flea has a steady supply of blood for food, she will lay several eggs after each feeding. This means every 3-5 hours.

How Long Do Flea Eggs Live?

Flea eggs can survive for about 10 days, tops. “If they don’t hatch in 10 days, they won’t,” Dr. Dryden says.

Flea eggs need a warm, humid environment—anywhere from 70 to 90 degrees and 75 to 85 percent humidity. Under ideal conditions, the larvae can hatch in as little as 36 hours. In a less favorable environment, the eggs take longer to hatch.

Flea eggs stats

What Is the Difference Between Flea Eggs and Flea Larvae?

Once the flea eggs hatch, flea larvae emerge. They look like tiny worms, about 2-3 mm long (1/12- to 1/8-inch), with a yellowish-white, segmented body and black head. Flea larvae are born blind and avoid bright light. They quickly burrow deep into carpets, cracks, and grass, where they feast on flea dirt. Flea larvae make up approximately 35 percent of the total flea population in any given area.

About 5 to 20 days after hatching, a flea larva will spin a pupa, which is like a cocoon. This requires the right warm, humid environment. The pupa is very hard and has a sticky outer coating that helps it hide deep in carpets and fabrics. The pupa stage can last as little as a week or up to a year. Fleas will not emerge from the pupa stage until they sense body heat and carbon dioxide. This signals that a host is nearby. When your pet walks by, the flea will emerge from its cocoon to begin feeding and the whole cycle starts over again.

What Kills Flea Eggs?

Veterinarian giving a puppy treatment to kill flea eggs

Killing flea eggs is a two-phase process. First, you need to get rid of any eggs and adult fleas on your pet. Then, you need to get rid of the flea eggs in your home.

The very first step in this process is bringing your pet to see the veterinarian. The veterinarian will examine your dog to understand the extent of the flea problem. From there, they will determine the right treatment for your pet.

Not all products that kill fleas work to kill flea eggs. Work with your veterinarian to choose the best product and course of action for your pet.

If you get rid of flea eggs and adult fleas on your pet, you will need tackle the indoor environment next. This involves getting rid of any eggs that may have sloughed off around your home. Here are some steps to take:


“The most natural, most effective way to get rid of flea eggs in your home is to vacuum,” says Dr. Laurie Leach, of Beverly Oaks Animal Hospital and Emergency Animal Clinic. “Before you start, put some mothballs inside the vacuum bag. When you’re finished, take that bag out immediately to the trash can, so those eggs don’t hatch inside your vacuum cleaner.”

Make sure to use a vacuum with good suction and a rotating brush. Start with the baseboards and thoroughly vacuum the floors, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Pay extra attention to corners and crevices. A good vacuuming every other day can remove the majority of flea eggs. It also helps to get rid of adult fleas, larvae, some pupae, and flea dirt.


Inspect the areas of your house where your pet spends the most time. Gather all the linens, upholstery, and bedding that may have been exposed to flea eggs. Wash them with detergent or bleach, using the hottest cycle the fabric will tolerate. Flea eggs will not survive the extended exposure to the hot water and laundry detergent in the washer. It’s even better if you can also throw the linens in the dryer.

Flea Products

There are a lot of flea products on the market. Keep in mind that many do not kill flea eggs, they only kill adult fleas. Your veterinarian can guide you in selecting the right products to meet your pet’s needs.

The most effective products to kill flea eggs include insect growth regulators (IGRs). These compounds, called isoxazolines, can be safely used in most pets. They work by mimicking a hormone that stops fleas from maturing into adults—including preventing eggs from hatching. Some IGRs also work to sterilize female fleas so they can’t lay viable eggs.

You can find IGRs in a variety of products for dogs, including oral medications and spot-on skin applications. You can also find them in spray form to target eggs in your pet’s bedding.

Up until recently, topicals were the only type of product in this class approved for use in cats. In 2021, Credelio CAT (lotilaner) became both the first oral flea and tick product for cats as well as the first oral isoxazoline for cats. It is a small, chewable tablet that starts killing fleas on cats within six hours and also protects against black-legged ticks.

Credelio Cat packaging

“The right product for your home depends on where you live and your pet’s lifestyle. Your veterinarian will be able to counsel you on the right formula,” says Dr. Dryden.

As for flea dips or baths, Dr. Dryden says they do not kill flea eggs and are no longer recommended for the treatment of adult fleas. If you are unsure about whether a product is safe, be sure to consult your pet’s veterinarian.


The best way to avoid becoming overrun with flea eggs is by preventing them in the first place. Work with your veterinarian to get your dog or cat on a proper flea preventative treatment. By using a quality flea and tick control product, such as Credelio, you can stop fleas in their tracks. Examine your pet’s fur on a regular basis and watch for signs of sudden itchiness or irritation.

Do Home Remedies Kill Flea Eggs?

Woman vacuuming up flea eggs on the couch next to a cat stretching in the background

A quick internet search for “how to kill flea eggs” will yield several other homespun approaches. Although some of these can repel adult fleas, most home remedies are not effective to kill the eggs.

The best way to get rid of flea eggs without medication is through diligent vacuuming and washing. Serious infestations will require medication to destroy the eggs. Speak with your veterinarian about the safety of any at-home remedies you choose, no matter how benign they seem.

Dish Soap

Dish soap can kill some adult fleas, but it is not safe for your pet’s skin. It can remove the natural oils, making the skin more prone to infection—especially if there is already irritation from fleas. Detergent is also not effective since it only kills adult fleas. Some eggs will wash off during a bath, but this will not address the majority of flea eggs in your home. You should never bathe your dog with dish soap. Read our full explanation of dish soap for fleas for more information.

Hot Water

Washing linens and bedding in water that is 140 degrees or hotter will effectively destroy most flea eggs. Steam cleaning carpets after vacuuming can also help to kill remaining flea eggs.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can help improve certain skin problems or a dry coat in dogs, and it is safe for animals. However, there is no evidence that it does anything to kill flea eggs.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Some advice on the internet recommends sprinkling diatomaceous earth on carpets and pets’ bedding. According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), “Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process.”

However, some veterinarians warn that diatomaceous earth can harm pets’ respiratory and digestive tracts. As a precaution, steer clear of using it in areas where pets could inhale or ingest it. If you are interested in using diatomaceous earth to kill fleas and flea eggs, ask your veterinarian about best practices.


Similarly, some people recommend sprinkling salt in areas settled by flea eggs. However, using salt to kill fleas or their eggs is dangerous and ineffective. The amount of salt required to kill flea eggs and larvae is toxic to your dog or cat if they lick it or inhale it.


Adult fleas despise the taste and smell of vinegar, so a solution of vinegar and water may assist as a homemade repellent for adult fleas. But vinegar does nothing to kill flea eggs.

In short—flea eggs are a stubborn problem to get rid of. So, it can be tempting to try any method possible.

Before you forge ahead, make sure your flea control program is veterinarian-approved and addresses the entire flea life cycle. That way, you can be sure the little bloodsuckers will leave your pets and your family alone for good.