Fleas are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of animals and can spread serious diseases. While finding a few fleas on your pet may not seem like a cause for concern, these pests can quickly reproduce and create a serious infestation in your home. In this article, we’ll help you understand your DIY and professional options for flea extermination while providing you with tips on how to prevent future infestations.
Signs and Causes of a Flea Infestation
Flea infestations usually start when a flea latches onto your pet’s fur and is carried indoors. Fleas thrive in warm climates between 65 and 80 degrees, making your home a perfect breeding ground for these pests. When fleas are indoors, they can quickly reproduce to create a costly and nasty infestation.
The signs of a flea infestation are different from the signs of a bed bug infestation. Here are a few signs that your dog or cat might be carrying fleas:
- Sand-like droppings on your pet’s coat
- Tiny white flea eggs scattered across your pet’s fur
- Excessive scratching or licking
- Abnormal hair loss
- Pale gums
One of the most common signs of a flea infestation is the presence of flea dirt, which looks like black pepper and contains a mixture of a host’s dried blood and pest excrement. One way to identify flea dirt is by placing the substance over a wet paper towel. If the particles spread out and dissolve into a reddish color, you may have fleas in your home.
Even though fleas spend most of their time feeding on animals, another major sign of a flea infestation is bite marks around human ankles. These small red dots are usually grouped in clusters of two or three and often have a red halo around their centers.
Average Flea Exterminator Cost
According to HomeAdvisor, flea extermination costs between $75 and $400, with an average cost of $270. This price includes professional flea services, such as inspections, vacuuming, interior applications, and exterior applications. Note: Most infestations require more than an initial treatment, which can add an additional $75 to $200 per visit.
While you can opt for treatments as needed, some pest control companies offer contracts that include spraying for fleas every month or every few months. Typically, this monthly cost is lower than the cost of a one-time treatment, which is usually around $75.
Factors That Affect Flea Extermination Pricing
The cost of flea extermination is influenced by a variety of factors, including treatment method, location, and infestation level. Below is a breakdown of each factor and how it influences the total flea extermination cost.
Flea treatment methods will vary in cost based on the labor intensity and materials used. While most professionals fumigate homes to exterminate fleas, others may use methods like heat treatment or vacuuming.
View the chart below for rough estimates of flea extermination costs based on treatment method.
|Treatment Type||Average Cost||Description|
|Vacuuming||$80–$140||Consists of high-power vacuuming of furniture, carpets, pet bedding, and other crevices throughout your home to remove scattered eggs.|
|Flea bomb||$100–$200||Aerosol cans release pesticide over the span of a few hours, killing fleas. This method is typically used in a single room.|
|Spray||$150–$300||Experts spray every nook and cranny in a room that's suspected of having fleas or flea eggs.|
|Fumigation||$175–$350||A complete treatment consisting of spray, foggers, and flea bombs that combat a large infestation.|
|Heat treatment||$300–$500||Heat is applied to carpeting in a single room, killing exposed fleas, larvae, and eggs.|
It’s important to note that these treatment methods can be combined to attack several flea infestations throughout your home. For example, a professional exterminator may vacuum and fumigate your home to eliminate fleas and their lingering eggs.
The overall cost of flea extermination will also depend on where the fleas are located in your home. For example, some flea outbreaks are isolated to a single room, making them easier to contain and treat. Treatment in this scenario would be cheaper than a whole-home extermination, where professionals would treat every crack and corner of your home. Below is an estimate of how treatment locations affect the overall flea extermination cost.
As the infestation level in your home worsens, so does treatment difficulty and duration, directly increasing the overall price of extermination. Here’s a description of each flea infestation level and how much you can expect to pay for each.
|Level of Infestation||Average Cost||Description|
|Small||$100–$175||An infestation limited to a single room or small area of your yard.|
|Medium||$175–$300||A multi-room infestation that may require multiple treatments.|
|Severe||$325–$550||Fleas have infiltrated the entire home, requiring a large-scale treatment and multiple follow-ups.|
DIY Flea Removal vs. Using an Exterminator
If you spot a few fleas in isolated areas like your pet’s bedding or your sofa, consider DIY methods and products for flea extermination. Here are some of the most common flea removal options, how much they cost, and their pros and cons.
Average Price per Unit
Kills fleas in single rooms or small homes
Can be used as a preventative measure around your home or as a spot treatment in small areas
Doesn’t cover as much area as other treatment options
Easy to use and long-lasting
Only used for removing fleas and larvae from animal fur
It’s important to note that even the best at-home treatments for fleas may not work against moderate to severe infestations. If you try a few DIY treatments that don’t work, call a pest control service immediately to prevent the infestation from worsening. While the cost of hiring a professional may be more expensive than tackling the flea problem yourself, you can be confident that a provider will eliminate your infestation.
Here are a few benefits of selecting a pest control company:
- Effective treatment options: Over-the-counter flea remedies may not be as effective as the professional-grade chemicals and pesticides used by an exterminator.
- Safe handling of pesticides and chemicals: Even over-the-counter flea treatments pose a health risk if handled incorrectly. Professionals know how to handle the chemicals they work with, taking the risk away from you.
- Expertise: It’s common for a flea infestation to evolve into a more serious issue. When you hire a professional, they can attack the infestation immediately.
- Time: Addressing a flea infestation can be time-consuming. Hiring a professional takes the issue off your plate so that you can get to what matters.
How To Avoid Future Flea Infestations
Here are a few ways to prevent flea infestations:
- Place your pet on an oral or topical flea medicine, such as Simparica. These treatments typically include tick protection, as well.
- Wash your pet’s blankets and bedding with soap and warm water. If your pet sleeps on your bed with you, be sure to also wash your bedding.
- Regularly vacuum your home’s carpets to remove potential fleas and their eggs.
- Treat your yard with pesticides to prevent fleas from breeding outdoors.
- Limit your pet’s activity in ungroomed outdoor areas, which may harbor fleas.
Frequently Asked Questions About Flea Extermination
How long does it take to get rid of fleas after extermination?
While professional flea treatment usually results in immediate pest reduction, it’s common to see a few stragglers for up to 14 days after treatment.
How long can fleas live in an empty home?
Fleas need a host to survive and will live for only around seven days without one. It’s important to note that following pupation, fleas developing in their eggs can remain dormant for up to one year if they don’t sense a host.
How fast do fleas reproduce?
Adult fleas lay about 50 eggs per day and can produce up to 2,000 eggs in one lifetime. These eggs can take up to two weeks to hatch, which can make treating an infestation difficult.
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plan options, additional benefits and convenience factors, availability, trustworthiness, and customer service to arrive at a final score out of 100.
To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at email@example.com.