What Do Flea Larvae Look Like? [And What Is the Actual Size?]

Flea larvae are worm-like creatures that are part of the flea lifecycle. They are white or light-colored with a dark gut and have a segmented body with hairs.

They range in size from 2 to 5 mm long during their 5 – 20 days on earth before they spin a cocoon. Flea larvae will hatch from a flea egg and begin looking for food.

Flea larvae feed on the feces of adult fleas, blood, nonviable flea eggs, crumbs, dead skin cells, and other debris. Because they have strong chewing mouthparts, they can feed on waste in the environment. However, their primary food source is adult flea feces.

flea larvae in NYC

Fleas are one of the common apartment bugs.

What Do Flea Larvae Look Like?

Flea larvae have a whitish/translucent/light yellow body and a dark inner gut with tiny hairs. The color of flea larvae will change depending on what they last ate.

A flea larva is blind and avoids the light as they move through the environment, searching for food. So, if you’re getting bites and find larvae, you more than likely have a flea problem rather than bed bugs. To learn more about the differences between flea bites vs bed bug bites, check out our article.

Check out the video below; it has a lot of great examples of flea larvae in the wild.

How Big Are Flea Larvae?

The size of flea larvae will vary between 2mm-5mm depending on the growth stage.

flea larvae

Can You See Flea Larvae?

Yes, flea larvae are visible; however, they tend to stay away from bright lights. So you may not notice flea larvae if they are within the cracks and crevices of your home.

If your pet has fleas, it’s essential to wash and dry everything in the home. Washing and drying everything will help eliminate flea larvae and, in turn, help break the flea lifecycle. Targeting all stages of the flea lifecycle is crucial if you want to control a flea infestation.

What Color Are Flea Larvae?

The color of flea larvae will range from white to yellow to brownish, depending on what they eat.

Flea Larvae has a dark gut
The color of flea larvae changes depending on what they eat.

Flea Larvae in a Carpet

A carpet is an excellent place for a flea larva to hide and find food. The darkness and warmth of a rug are the perfect environments for flea larvae to develop.

Carpets are also an excellent place for fleas to lay their eggs, which means that if your pet has fleas, there’s a good chance there are flea larvae in your carpet. If you have a shaggy carpet, it may be difficult to see the flea larvae, but they will be there.

To get rid of flea larvae in your carpet, you’ll need to vacuum regularly, steam treat your carpet, and hire professionals. Getting rid of flea larvae in your carpet is not easy, but it’s doable if you put the work in.

What Do Flea Larvae Eat?

According to this: Paristology magazine by Cambridge Press: (Sikes, E. (1931). Notes on Breeding Fleas, with Reference to Humidity and Feeding. Parasitology, 23(2), 243-249. doi:10.1017/S0031182000013603) flea larvae will eat a variety of things. Including adult flea feces, dried blood, cockroach feces, skin cells, albumen, and even squirrel feces.

The fact that a flea larva will survive on squirrel feces makes them harder to get rid of in your yard if you live in an area with many squirrels!

Cat Flea Larvae

Dog flea larvae and cat flea larvae look almost identical. Check out this cat flea larva from the University of Florida entomology department:

dog flea larvae vs cat flea larvae

Do Cat Flea Larvae Move?

Yes, all flea larvae can move freely in their environment and search for food.

Dog Flea Larvae

dog flea larvae vs cat flea larvae
dog flea larvae vs cat flea larvae

Here is a photo of a dog flea larva under SEM from Credit: Dog flea larva – color-enhanced SEM. The University of Edinburgh. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Do Dog Flea Larvae Move?

Yes, all flea larvae can move freely in their environment and search for food.

Flea Larvae on Bed

Unfortunately, if you have fleas in your house or yard, there is a good chance that flea larvae are in your bed. Fleas will often lay their eggs while living on the animal. These fleas in your bed will drop off their eggs onto your bedding, which means that the flea larvae will also hatch there.

To get rid of flea larvae in your bed, you’ll need to wash all your bedding in hot water, vacuum your mattress and box spring, use a steamer for fleas, and treat your home. You may also need to treat your pet for fleas if they are the source of the infestation.

Final Thoughts on Flea Larvae and What Do Flea Larvae Look Like?

Flea larvae are a necessary part of the flea lifecycle, and they can be found in your home if you have a pet that has fleas. Flea larvae can survive on various things, including adult flea feces, dried blood, skin cells, albumen, cockroach feces, squirrel feces, and cat or dog feces. They can move freely in their environment and search for food. To get rid of flea larvae in your home, you’ll need to vacuum regularly, steam treat your carpets and furniture, and hire professionals.


Learn More About Fleas Below

Learn the answer to “Do fleas have wings?” and do they crawl or jump?

Did you find tiny bugs in your bed that are not bed bugs? It might be fleas.