Fleas are commonly known as bothersome, itchy parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals alike. However, their diets are not restricted to just blood; they also consume feces, skin cells, and even plant matter. The nutritional requirements of these tiny pests differ between their life stages, with blood being essential for adult fleas to reproduce, while flea larvae have distinct dietary needs.

In order to truly understand these notorious creatures, it’s important to explore what other dietary requirements they might have and how they’ve become so adept at feasting on the blood of their hosts. As we delve deeper into the world of fleas, we can gain valuable insight into the lives of these unwelcome guests.

What Does a Flea Eat?

Fleas are primarily known for consuming blood from various hosts, including humans, pets, and livestock. As hematophagic creatures, their main sustenance comes from sucking blood through their host’s capillaries. However, fleas can also be considered omnivores. Flea larvae and young fleas commonly consume feces and decaying plant or animal matter before transitioning to blood-feeding.

Blood meals from animals like dogs, cats, rats, and other mammals serve as not only nourishment for fleas, but also a means for female fleas to reproduce. To sum up, while fleas have a strong preference for blood from mammalian hosts, their diet can vary depending on their life stage and environment.

A Complete List of 9 Foods Fleas Eat

Fleas have a diverse diet that consists of various sources to fulfill their nutritional needs. These small insects rely on blood from living hosts as their primary food source. Here are nine types of foods that fleas consume:

  1. Cat blood: Fleas, particularly cat fleas, thrive on the blood of cats.
  2. Dog blood: Both cat fleas and dog fleas feed on dog blood, but cat fleas are more likely to bite dogs.
  3. Blood from other animals: Fleas may also feed on the blood of different animals, depending on their availability.
  4. Human blood: Some fleas, including cat fleas, can bite humans to feed on their blood.
  5. Flea feces: Flea larvae consume feces from adult fleas, where they get their first taste of blood.
  6. Animal feces: Fleas may also find nutrients in the feces of animals, specifically their hosts.
  7. Human skin flakes: Fleas can obtain nutrients from human skin cells that have been shed.
  8. Decomposed plant matter: Fleas have been known to eat decaying plant matter, providing them with additional nutrients.
  9. Organic debris: Flea larvae feed on various organic debris, including skin cells and other organic matter, to meet their dietary needs.

Fleas don’t infect hosts internally but live on the exterior, consuming these food sources to survive and thrive.

How Much Does a Flea Eat?

Fleas are known to consume an impressive amount of blood relative to their small size, as they can eat up to 15 times their body weight in blood. These tiny creatures can consume about 13 microliters of blood per day, which may not seem like a lot, but considering their minute size, it’s still significant. Fleas have a voracious appetite, and they can even turn a purplish hue after indulging in a particularly filling meal.

This information may not be comforting to pet owners experiencing a flea infestation, as it means that the presence of fleas can result in numerous bites for both pets and humans. Fleas are not hesitant to feed, always ensuring they are well-nourished.

Interestingly, flea larvae also have a considerable appetite, requiring blood from adult flea feces to survive. In the absence of blood, larvae will feed on dead skin cells and decaying plant matter as alternative sources of nourishment. This adaptability contributes to the fleas’ survival across various stages of their life cycle, making them highly resilient even in diverse temperature and humidity conditions. This characteristic continues to challenge pet owners in their attempts to deal with flea infestations effectively.

How Does a Flea Eat?

Fleas feed by using their specialized, arrow-shaped mouthparts that easily pierce through skin. Inside their mouth, they have strong suckers that help them access and consume blood from their host. Interestingly, fleas can feed directly from a living creature’s capillaries, which provides them with a pressurized flow of blood for faster feeding1.

To locate the capillaries, fleas use their sensory abilities to probe the skin and secrete saliva, which helps them seek out blood. Once they find a suitable capillary, they bite down and introduce more of their saliva. The anticoagulant properties in their saliva facilitate blood flow and soften the host’s skin, making it easier for fleas to feed and thrive2.

In summary, fleas utilize their unique mouthparts, including the stylet, proboscis, and laciniae, as well as their powerful legs to jump onto their host and comfortably feast on their blood supply. Their feeding techniques complement their survival as tiny, flightless insects that depend on feeding off mammals and birds3.

Why Do Fleas Make Us Itch?

Flea bites cause itching mainly due to the flea’s saliva. When these tiny creatures search for a blood vessel, their bites are already enough to cause irritation. Moreover, fleas’ ability to leap nearly 200 times their body length makes them difficult to eliminate. Preventing fleas from infesting your pets is achievable, but getting rid of a full-blown infestation might necessitate professional pest control.

While feeding, fleas might get disturbed but tend to return to the same spot. This behavior explains the tendency for flea bites to cluster in one area of the body. Fleas prefer not to search for a new capillary each time, so once your pet falls asleep, they will likely bite again in the same location.

Fleas are undeniably unique creatures, with astonishing abilities to feed, jump, and thrive. Their resilience often frustrates pet owners, making them challenging to eradicate even though they have a relatively short lifespan of one to two weeks. As small as they are, fleas can cause significant discomfort through their bites and saliva, leading to the persistent itching experienced by pets and humans alike during a flea infestation.

Summary of 9 Foods That Fleas Consume

Fleas are small, flightless insects that survive by consuming blood from various hosts. There are numerous substances that attract and sustain fleas, including:

  • Blood from cats: Fleas often feed on the blood of felines.
  • Blood from dogs: Canines are also common hosts for fleas.
  • Blood from other animals: Fleas can also target other mammals and birds for nourishment.
  • Blood from humans: Although less common, fleas do occasionally feed on human blood.
  • Flea feces: Fleas may consume the feces of other fleas to survive.
  • Animal feces: Animal waste can provide nutrients for fleas in certain situations.
  • Human waste: Similarly, human waste can appeal to fleas as a source of food.
  • Human skin flakes: As fleas are external parasites, they might consume skin flakes from their human hosts.
  • Decomposed plant matter: Fleas are also known to feed on decaying plant material.

To keep your environment flea-free, it is crucial to maintain a clean and tidy living space. Regularly washing and changing bedding can help significantly reduce flea infestations. You can also use insecticides to further combat these pests. To properly manage flea populations, it is essential to identify and address the sources of their sustenance.


  1. Flea – Wikipedia

  2. Dog flea – Wikipedia

  3. Flea treatments – Wikipedia

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