If you think bed bugs are the only bugs that can bite you in bed, then think again.
Fleas are one of the bugs that can hide in your bed and bite you while you’re asleep.
But how to find out if there are fleas in your bed? You need to look for their signs.
In this guide, you’d find out six signs of fleas in bed that you either don’t know or you can easily ignore. Some of these signs are quite vague. You can easily ignore them if you’re not eagle-eyed about them.
Plus, you’ll also find out how fleas get to your bed and how to get rid of fleas in bed in three steps.
6 Signs Of Fleas In Bed (3 Of Them Are Hard To Spot)
There are the six signs of fleas in bed –
- Flea dirt on the bed
- Flea bite marks on the body
- Flea eggs
- Flea larvae
- Flea skin
- Adult fleas on the bed
These signs of fleas in bed answers your question, “are there fleas in my bed.”
Three of these signs are so tiny that you might not see them with a naked eye.
Let’s dive into each of these symptoms of fleas in bed.
Flea Dirt On Bed
Flea dirt, which is flea feces, is like tiny black pepper-like grains or black specks of dust on your bed. When fleas get regular blood meals, they’ll discard their feces on your bed.
To find out if it’s actually flea dirt, take a wet paper towel and scrub on the dirt.
On rubbing, the flea dirt will discharge a reddish color which will be visible on the power towel and on the bed sheet.
The reddish discharge it’s because of the blood that they consume.
But here’s a catch.
You may confuse flea dirt with bed bug fecal marks. But there’s a significant difference between the two.
Flea feces are tiny dust-like particles, whereas bed bug fecal marks are small black spots on the bed.
Flea Bite Marks On Your Body
Flea bite marks on your body are also a prominent sign of fleas in bed.
Flea bite marks are tiny random red marks on your skin that itch a lot.
But how can you know for sure that it’s a flea bite mark, not a bed bug bite mark?
It is difficult to tell, but there are some crucial differences between flea bite marks and bed bug bite marks.
First, fleas bite on the lower half of your body, especially on skin folds of ankles, elbows, and knee bends.
In contrast, bed bugs can bite all over your body including on the neck.
The second difference between bed bug bites and flea bite is the shape and pattern of the bite marks.
Flea bite marks are smaller in size than bed bug bite marks. Flea bite marks look like acne or pimples, whereas bed bug bite marks have a bit of swelling.
Bed bug bite marks can grow in size within 24 to 48 hours of bed bug bites. But flea bite marks don’t change in size.
Third, flea bite marks don’t have a pattern like bed bug bite marks. Most of the time, flea bite marks are in random clusters.
Flea bites can pose a significant risk to your health, especially when you’re allergic to bug bites.
You’d develop rashes and can get allergic reactions like sneezing, swollen eyes, red welts on your skin, and running nose
The bitten area can also swell and may develop into a blister. If you puncture the blister or anything stabs it accidentally, then it can lead to infection.
Fleas can also infest human skin by burrowing themselves into the human skin. This condition is known as tungiasis.
The most common places that it can happen are the feet and the ankles. Fleas die in two or so weeks once they drill inside your skin. That leads to severe infection.
So, if fleas have bitten you, it’d be best to consult a physician.
Flea Eggs On Bed
Now you’re getting into the signs that are hard to spot.
You’d need a magnifying glass to see these signs.
Flea eggs on bed is a sign of fleas in bed that can you can easily mistake them for salt grains. They’re tiny and measure only 0.5 mm in length, which is one-hundredth of an inch.
But the flea eggs are oval, which is a crucial difference between the salt grains and flea eggs.
If you see something similar to salt grains on your bed, do one thing.
Pick the flea egg by using a pincher. And keep it on a piece of black paper.
Now watch it under a magnifying glass.
If it’s a flea egg then it’d be soft, oval, and off-white.
Remember, if fleas are in your bed, then they’d lay eggs on your bed sheets, bed mattress, and pillows. Flea eggs on the bed and flea dirt is a telltale sign that fleas are biting you and drawing your blood.
It’s because fleas can’t breed if they don’t get their regular blood meals.
And if there are flea eggs on bed, then the egg will hatch. That brings the next sign of fleas in bed, the flea larvae.
Flea Larvae And Flea Pupae On Bed
Flea larvae look off-white tiny worms with a thin layer of hairy bristles on their bodies.
They’re 0.08 inches to 0.2 inches long, which is 2-5 mm.
Flea larvae can be hard to spot. On top of being microscopic, the flea larvae don’t crawl on your bed. They remain hidden all the time.
They spend most of the times hiding in the thin gaps and cracks on the bed.
But they do come out to feed, which is the the flea dirt or flea feces of the adult fleas. Flea larvae don’t bite humans, neither can they live on humans. Adult fleas can’t live on humans either.
The flea larvae go through multiple phases of molting before it encloses itself in a cocoon (which is known as pupa).
Flea pupae are also tiny and most often the flea larvae pupate in the thin gaps and cracks of the bed frame and in the box springs.
Adult fleas emerge out of the pupae looking for blood meals and ready to breed.
Flea Skin On Bed
The flea larvae shed their skin, or molt, twice before they get into the pupae life stage. You can also come across these shed skin on your bed.
Again, the skin casings can be hard to spot. You’d need a magnifying glass to confirm if it’s a shed-skin (exuviae) of fleas.
Under the magnifying glass, the shed-skin will look like a soft tiny white tubular casing.
In the pupae stage, or inside the cocoon, the flea will shed it’s skin twice before an adult flea breaks out from it.
As the flea larvae hide in the thin gaps of the bed frame, you might not come across the flea skin on your bed sheet.
But you’d find them underneath the mattress, between the gaps in the headboard, and on the bed frame.
Adult fleas don’t shed their skin.
Alive Adult Fleas On Bed
Adult fleas are not microscopic bugs. They’re visible to the naked eye. But if you’ve a weak eye sight will find it hard to spot them because they’re tiny.
Fleas are brown to reddish-brown and they grow only up to 0.3 inches in size. Given their brownish color, many people confuse fleas with bed bugs.
But fleas have visible long hind legs which they use for jumping. Where as bed bugs don’t have any such type of legs and bed bugs are flat oval-shaped.
On the bed, you’ll notice fleas underneath the mattress, pillows, and in the tight gaps of the bed frame and headboard.
There’s no prominent sign of fleas in bed than sightings of live adult fleas on your bed.
How Do You Get Fleas In Bed?
There are three ways you get fleas on bed –
- Your dog has fleas and sleeps on bed
- You bring fleas to your home and to your bed
- Fleas in bed despite no pets (blame it on strays and wildlife)
Now let’s have a look at each of the ways in more detail.
Your Dog Has Fleas And Sleeps On Your Bed
Fleas lay eggs on the fur and the skin of pet dogs and cats. These eggs have a sticky coating which makes them stick with the skin and the fur.
Some of the flea eggs and even adult fleas drop off your pet dog’s skin and fur when your dog sleeps on your bed.
When these eggs hatch, and the larvae goes through the entire life cycle, you’ve got a bunch of fleas on your bed ready to bite you and suck your blood.
And it’s not limited to your bed. Pets with fleas infestation can transfer fleas to pet beds and soft furnishings like carpets, rugs, and couches.
That’s why fleas are can also infest and hide in the couch. They’ll wait there for a host to latch onto. And you can also get flea bites if you spend some time on the couch with fleas on it.
But how your pet dog or cat catch fleas?
They bring it from outdoors or when they come in contact with other pets with fleas on them.
Fleas live and breed in tall grasses around moist surroundings in outdoors, or in your yard or garden.
When your pet dog walks through or play in those overgrown vegetation then fleas and ticks can latch onto your dog’s skin.
And when the dog hops onto your bed, straight from those flea infested places, it transfers the fleas to your bed.
So, if your dog has fleas then your home is at a risk of flea infestation.
That’s why it’s critical to regularly check your dog and cat for fleas, especially when they scratch themselves a lot. And doing it easy.
All you need to do is split your pet’s fur with a flea comb and check for fleas.
And it wouldn’t be surprising if you notice adult fleas jumping off, flea dirt, and tiny flea larvae on your pet‘s skin and fur.
If your pet dog has fleas, then you’ll notice adult fleas jumping around in your pet’s fur, flea dirt, and even tiny whitish flea larvae on your pet’s skin.
On noticing fleas on your dog, as a precautionary measure, you can use flea powder for pets on your dog or cat.
But take your dog to a vet for flea treatment asap. Fleas on dogs and pets cause skin infections, hair loss, bleeding in gums, and anemia.
You Bring The Fleas Home To Your Bed
The second way that fleas can get onto your bed is from you.
In the same way that your dog brings fleas home.
When you walk through the overgrown vegetation in your yard, or outdoors, the fleas living there will latch onto your clothing.
The major portion of your body where fleas latch on is below the waist region.
Walking through those tall grasses will make the fleas and ticks hitchhike to your home by getting stuck on your trousers and socks.
And if you put those fleas infested clothes in your bed or elsewhere in your home, there you go, you just brought fleas home or in your apartment.
Fleas In Bed But There Are No Pets At Home
The third, and the final reason for fleas in bed is that when a flea infested animal introduces fleas in your home and property.
This is quite rare in an urban environment but over the years many homeowners have reported fleas in bed despite not having any pets at home.
Wildlife like racoons, opossums, skunks, rats, mice, and squirrels can transfer fleas into your home.
The most common pathways of these animals to enter your home is the attic or the crawl spaces.
Another reason for fleas in home and bed despite no pets is when the old tenant or homeowner had pets and they left fleas behind.
There are also chances that there are flea eggs and larvae when you moved into your home. And they matured into adult fleas.
Can Fleas Survive On Human Blood?
Yes, fleas can survive on human blood. Though warm blooded animals with fur are their go-to hosts, fleas can survive on human blood if their primary hosts are not available.
When fleas get their regular blood meals, their life span is 2-3 months. But fleas can’t survive beyond a few days if they don’t get their blood meals.
Fleas prefer to survive as a parasite on your pets. It’s your pets’ blood that fleas prefer.
Can Fleas Live In Your Bedding?
Yes, fleas can live in your bed and complete their entire life cycle if you don’t get rid of them.
But there’s a catch.
Your bed isn’t an ideal habitat for fleas like it is for bed bugs.
Fleas get into your bed in three ways which you’ll find later in the post.
But for now, keep in mind, that when they’re in your bed they’ll latch onto any host, which most of the times is you, to bite and draw blood.
Strangely though, humans are not an ideal host for fleas. Animals with fur, birds, and other animals are fleas’ hosts.
But for the sake of survival in your bed, fleas will bite you and drink your blood.
Sighting of one flea in the bed is a clear indication of a possible flea infestation in your bed and home.
How To Get Rid Of Fleas In Bed ?
Now, you’re an expert in spotting the fleas in bed.
And you also know how fleas land up on your bed.
But this knowledge is futile if you don’t take steps to kill fleas in your bed.
In this section, you’d learn how to get rid of fleas in bed.
The best part?
You don’t need to hire a pest controller to do it. You can do it by yourself, with a little bit of patience.
Below are the five steps to kill fleas on the bed, and home, and secure your bed from further flea attacks.
Steam Clean Your Bed To Kill The Hiding Fleas
Like bed bugs and bed worms, fleas hide in the cracks and seams of the bed and mattresses.
To begin with, remove the bed covers, pillow covers, and bed sheets from your bed.
You’ll find out what to do with them in the next section. For now, let’s focus on your bed frame and box springs.
Now, steam clean your bed mattress thoroughly. Steam cleaners produce heat.
And the heat from the steam cleaner will kill all the adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, and flea pupae hiding in the bed mattress.
You can also use the steam cleaner on the hard surfaces of the bed like the bed frame and bed headboard.
Using a steam cleaner on the bed is a proven and best way to kill flea larvae on bed.
(Every home must have a steam cleaner and a packet of diatomaceous earth. In our opinion, these two are the best yet most underrated pest killers.)
While steam cleaning, ensure that you’re doing it slowly and you’re covering every inch and corner of your bed.
Hold the hose of the steam cleaner a bit longer on the cracks and gaps on the bed frame.
Also, exert a bit of pressure with your hand while using it on the seams of the mattress.
If your bed has a headboard, then remove the headboard and steam clean that as well.
It’s not only fleas that can hide in the headboard, but also bed bugs.
Don’t forget to clean the back of the headboard, especially when the headboard is stuck with the wall.
If you don’t have a steam cleaner, use a vacuum cleaner.
But after vacuuming, do not dispose of the dust bag of the vacuum cleaner trash bins inside your home.
It’s because fleas are good jumpers. They’d jump out of the trash bins and hide again inside your home.
But there’s one drawback of using a vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaners may remove the fleas and their eggs, but it won’t kill them.
If you don’t vacuum well, then you’ll not get rid of flea eggs, nymphs, and pupae.
These will mature soon to become adults and re-infest your bed.
To manage the risk, scatter food-grade diatomaceous earth on the mattress, bed frame, and headboard.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for you, children and pets.
And most importantly, diatomaceous earth kills fleas, and many other tiny bugs.
After scattering the diatomaceous earth, let the diatomaceous earth settle down.
After an hour or so, slowly vacuum clean all corners of your bed frame, headboard, and mattress.
Prepare A Flea Killing Spray With Vinegar And Water
Mix one portion of white vinegar with two equal quantities of water.
You can also mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil or citrus essential oil with the mixture.
Essential oils will make the flea-killing spray more powerful.
Now, pour the spray into a spray bottle. Shake it well, and then spray it on all the corners of your bed.
Do not forget to spray the mixture on the cracks on the bed, the places where nuts and bolts are, and on the headboard.
And of course, don’t miss the mattress.
White vinegar is acidic which kills many pests, including fleas.
And essential oil, especially peppermint essential oil, has insecticidal properties that repel fleas.
Leave your bed idle for an hour.
As an alternative, you can also use a flea killer spray for pets on bed.
Wash The Bed Sheets, Pillow Covers, And Other Bed Covers In Warm Water To Kill The Fleas
Washing the fabrics on the bed in hot water will kill any fleas living on them.
After washing, put them in a dryer. That’ll ensure all the fleas, if any, on the bed fabrics are dead.
Vacuum Or Steam Clean The Other Soft Furnishings To Kill Hidden Fleas
Again, fleas are one of those jumping bugs in bed that bite. And they move around quickly too.
If they’re on your bed, then chances are they are also hiding in the soft furnishings like rugs, carpets, upholsteries, and drapes and curtains.
On rugs and carpets, sprinkle some carpet flea powder on it and let the flea powder sit for a while.
Then vacuum clean, or preferably, steam clean those furnishings too.
As a precautionary measure, do not dispose of the vacuum cleaner dust bag inside your home. Else some of the fleas may jump off the dust bag and re-enter your home.
It’d be best if you dispose the dust bag away from your property.
Treat Your Pet For Fleas
As you know, your pet can be a major spreader of fleas in your bed and home.
Fleas in bed is a clear sign of possible fleas on your pet. And there can also be fleas in the yard.
So, check your pet for fleas and take your furry family member to a vet.
To treat your yard for fleas, cut down any overgrown shrubs.
And control the moisture and dampness of your yard or garden by using right amount of water and by fixing any water leakages.
Then, don’t forget to use any flea spray for outdoors to kill the fleas in yard.
There are other tiny bugs like fleas that can be in your bed. These are bed bug look-alikes and you can easily confuse them with bed bugs.
To conclude, here are the six signs of fleas in bed –
- Flea dirt on bed
- Flea bite marks on the body
- Flea eggs
- Flea larvae
- Flea skin
- Alive adult fleas on the bed
You pet dog or cat is the main carrier of fleas in your home and if your pet spends time on your bed then there will certainly be fleas in the bed.
In this guide, you’ve found what are the ways that fleas can get to your bed and how to get rid of fleas in your bed.
To get a list of home products, which are there in your home right now, check out our post on 11 home products that kill fleas.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.