Flea poop is visible on pets' fur as flea “dirt,” little black specks that look like pepper, that turn red or brown when exposed to water. The fleas will then mate and the females will lay their eggs on the pet.
If flea dirt is present, the little black fleck-like pieces will stain the cloth or paper in red. This redness appears because flea dirt is made of animal blood that's not fully digested. So when it comes into contact with water, it breaks down and leaves the flea dirt stained in red.
Identification. Finding flea dirt on a dog or cat is one of the best ways to diagnose an infestation. If it's truly flea feces, the black speck will smear red when rubbed on a wet paper towel. The crimson color results from reconstituted blood Img 2.
If you aren't sure if your pets have fleas, you can use a special flea comb to comb through their fur. If you collect anything that looks like dirt, drop it into a bowl of water; if it's flea dirt, it will dissolve into a reddish-brown stain in the water.
Flea dirt contains blood, so when it is wet, it will turn the paper towel a reddish-brown color, the color of blood. Regular dirt will not dissolve as easily and won't turn the paper towel a reddish-brown color.
So even if you only find flea dirt on your pet but no fleas themselves, it could mean you've just caught the infestation early. You should still treat your pet immediately for fleas since flea dirt is an obvious sign of flea activity as the digested blood from the parasites feed on your pet.
Bathing your pet with a flea treatment shampoo kills fleas on them at the time of bathing, so they'll be at risk of re-infestation after the shampoo has been rinsed away. Flea shampoos are a great way to kill fleas on your pet quickly, but be sure to follow your pet's bath with a longer-term preventive flea treatment.
Here's the short answer: Flea dirt is a mix of blood meal and flea feces, says Dr. John Howe, DVM, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Essentially, it's the waste fleas leave behind after they consume your pet's blood.
Lift some of the dark specks off the skin and place them on a moist paper towel. If it is really flea dirt, it will turn into reddish or brown spots when it hydrates on the wet towel.
Another way to identify flea dirt is to give your pet a bath and if the water turns red from the dry blood, you know it is flea dirt. You can also find the fleas themselves but not always… sometimes you have flea dirt without any presence of fleas.
After Feeding. The primary food source of flea larvae is dried fecal blood (flea dirt) from adult fleas. As a larva feeds on the feces, its digestive tract will turn a dark ruby-red to purple color. The red gut is easily seen through the translucent body, and it causes the whole larva to appear a darker color.
If you do see fleas and they are moving slow enough to catch – success – they are busy dying!
So what color are fleas, really? Dog fleas and cat fleas are brownish-black to black in color, but once they have taken in blood, they become reddish-black. Adult fleas of these species are small – roughly ⅛ inches in length. Human fleas (Pulex irritans) and Oriental rat fleas are colored reddish-brown.
"Flea dirt should be washed off the pet with a thorough bath and for severely affected pets, two or three rounds of shampooing may be necessary," Hall says. "A flea comb (a small fine-toothed comb) can also be used to tease the dirt and live fleas out of the hair."
Flea eggs have a soft shell called a “chorion” that has an off-white color, similar to a grain of salt, though they are more oval in shape.
Squishing a flea will spill out red vertebrate host blood, as well as blueish insect hemolymph.
"Flea dirt means there are adult fleas living on your pet," Hall says. "Adult fleas only make up about 5 percent of the total flea population as eggs, larval, and pupal stages of the fleas are also in the environment." Ew. I'm not scratching, you're scratching.
Symptoms of flea-borne typhus begin within 2 weeks after contact with infected fleas or flea dirt. However, people may not know they have been bitten by a flea or exposed to flea dirt so tell your healthcare provider about time spent outdoors or contact with animals. Signs and symptoms may include: Fever and chills.
No. Fleas don't lay eggs on your scalp. These insects can only breed on specific animals, such as cats and dogs.
Flea dirt can also be found in bedding, on furniture, or in carpets. Even if you don't see adult fleas, flea dirt is a sign that they have been there.
Fleas will leave behind blackish feces that look like pepper flakes. More importantly, when you smear them with water, the poop will turn reddish brown. So while they won't necessarily leave blood spots on your sheets, you may see rusty-colored stains from their feces.
Normally, these insects consume blood and then, 36-48 hours later they lay eggs. When the flea eggs hatch, the larva will feed on organic debris left behind on their prey's skin. They will not require another blood meal until they reach adulthood and only the females will need to consume blood in order lay more eggs.
Fleas are so light weight that they can bounce right off the surface of the water because the surface tension of the water prevents them from breaking through. Adding the dish soap reduces the surface tension so the fleas slip through and drown.
Heavy rain won't kill larvae, but it can drown them if they're submerged for too long or emerge too early. Adult fleas can jump long distances, giving them the ability to easily escape wet conditions.
One of the first solutions to get rid of fleas is to bathe your pet. Just lukewarm water, or water and a mild soap, can help get fleas off your pet's fur and skin. The dish soap can help to drown adult fleas. If you're thinking about using a flea shampoo or something similar, talk to your veterinarian first.