Fleas but no pets
June 9, 2017 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I just found a flea having lunch on my arm. It hopped off but I caught it. I don't have pets but I recently received a box from a friend who has cats. How big of a deal is this? Should I go defcon 5 or just throw out the box, vacuum everywhere and move on?
posted by bunderful to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Once is coincidence; twice is enemy action. You need a second sighting.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:14 AM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Could just as easily have stumbled in from outside or leapt on you from some nearby yard, which is how pets usually pick them up in the first place.

Keep an eye out for more, but otherwise just follow your normal cleaning protocols.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:15 AM on June 9, 2017

I wouldn't worry. My experience is that fleas like furry bodies that they can snuggle down in and enjoy life. You are not that. And if there is no other place for them, they move on.
posted by amanda at 9:24 AM on June 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you don't have pets or a rodent infestation you're fine. It's difficult for fleas to survive solely on humans.
posted by Stonkle at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Throw out the box, vacuum, etc.

We had fleas that a housemate brought home from her work with animals; I did not figure this out until after she'd moved out. I'd had multiple bites by night and thought we had bedbugs until I spotted a flea.

Vacuumed, mopped with enzyme cleaner where appropriate, washed all proximate things and we were done, and that was with at least multiple fleas that had been around for a while.
posted by Frowner at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cat fleas can't really survive or reproduce with only human hosts. No dog or cat in the house? Don't worry about it.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

This is so incredibly reassuring. Thank you everyone for your helpful comments.
posted by bunderful at 9:39 AM on June 9, 2017

If they come back you might want to check that nothing is nesting in your basement, attic or wall spaces. I've had a friend find out a feral cat was sleeping under her house only when she got a flea infestation from it.
posted by wwax at 10:16 AM on June 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

If this is feasible, you can also buy a bug bomb at Home Depot or similar, and fog your house while you're at work. It'll cost less than $10 and will kill any critters in your space. If any somehow escape the death fog, you can do it again in a few weeks to be on the safe side. it's pretty low-effort while also being effective.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:45 PM on June 9, 2017

Keep an eye out for more and wash like crazy. I had a stray in the basement for one night when I was sharing a house with people. The house was freestanding, and none of us had any pets nor brought in animals except for the one. He went to a new home the next day. Yet, six weeks later, we all had ankle bites and you could see the fleas hopping around. Supposedly that year there was a flea epidemic, which might have been how they survived in spite of the lack of actual animals to chew on. I hired an exterminator who verified they were in fact fleas and not something else. Not saying this will happen to you, but I am saying to be vigilant. Also - flea bites line up in rows, and they ITCH.
posted by Crystal Fox at 5:12 PM on June 9, 2017

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