Does Cold Weather Kill Fleas?

Written by Cory Eckert

Ever wonder where your pet's flees go in the colder winter months?

It's a pretty common misbelief that cold weather (winter time) kills flees. The truth is... 

No; Cold weather does not kill fleas. 

Some pet owners think the colder weather kills fleas, sadly this not true. The fleas need to be exposed to extended freezing temperatures to be killed.

When hitching a ride on your pup, who goes in and out during the winter months, fleas can survive quite comfortably.

Fleas and their eggs will survive through one night of freezing, probably more comfortably than you dog will. In fact, It would take about 10 days of freezing temperatures of 37 degrees fahrenheit or lower for the fleas to die.

Now, if even one of those days has higher temps, the fleas can warm up enough to survive. Fleas have found ways to stay alive on wild animals and have laid eggs on animals to be hatched in the spring. They also survive through the winter by finding warm areas in barns, garages, under decks, or anywhere cozy.

Flea populations are highest during the summer and the fall when it is the most warm and humid. They thrive in 75 degrees.  So in winter, your dog is less likely get fleas compared to the warm seasons but it's still quite possible. 

Life Cycle of a flea 

There are variety of species of fleas and they can become a real nuisance real quick, but the lifestyle for all species of fleas can be boiled down to four stages...

The Egg Stage: Fleas start as eggs and a single adult female flea can produce as many as 50 eggs a day. In order for reproduction to happen, female fleas need to feed on blood. After drinking blood females can lay eggs within 24 hours. 

The Larvae Stage: Once the eggs are laid, it takes about 12 days for the eggs to hatch.  Once hatched, the larva start feeding on organic debris such as feces from adult fleas, flea eggshells, and other flea larvae.  

These eggs do not stay on your pet's fur, they tend to fall wherever your dog rests, walks, sits, sleeps.  Larva develop best in cool, dark, and shady places.

The Pupa Stage: After another 12 days, the larva rolls into cocoons and became pupates.  These can be found under furniture, soil, carpets, vegetation, and animal bedding.

Fleas can stay in the pupa stage for up to 5 weeks. Usually they will emerge from their cocoons as adults and start looking for blood around the 13th day. 

The Adult Stage: As adults, fleas are triggered by vibrations caused by a potential host. Once the adult flea attaches itself to the host, it will feed on its blood and ultimately lay eggs to start the cycle all over again.

Other myths about Fleas

Fleas can be starved in an empty home. FALSE.  

Fleas will not die or starve if you leave a space empty for a long time. The immature stages of the fleas will go into dormancy waiting for a host to come by. 

How creepy is that!

Fleas will go away if you relocated the pet with fleas. FALSE 

The fleas will not leave when the host leaves, they will simply find alternative hosts and the immature fleas will survive in the environment until they do.

How Long Can Fleas Live Without A Host? 

The length of time a flea can survive without a host to feed on depends on what stage of the lifecycle the flea is in.

Eggs and Larvae

Eggs can't stay eggs and will hatch into larvae within a few days. For that reason, I group them together for this section.

Larvae can survive about 10 days without a host. After about a week, the larvae will form a cocoon and go into a dormant state and eventually die in about 3-4 days.


In the pupae stage, fleas are at their toughest and can survive the longest without a host.

If no host is present, pupae can stay dormant for nearly five months!

Adults Males

Adult males primary job is to eat... that's about it. Because of this, adult males can survive for about a week without a host if they are using minimal energy.

Adult Females

Unfortunately for the female fleas, laying eggs is hungry work. They will need a host to survive much past twenty four hours.

Treating Fleas

Household pets should be treated with a combination of any of the following methods. 

1. Collars or Topicals: there are several flea collars on the market such as the Seresto flea and tick collar and other topical treatments as well.

2. Spray and spot-on products: this is a preventative measure. These solutions are applied on a regular basis to kill the fleas before they bite your dog. In addition, some spray on applications kill fleas when they come in contact with the chemical. 

3. Oral Medications and pills: these are pills your dog eats. Once the fleas try to suck blood from your dog, the fleas will die. This should be done under instructions and observation of a vet or specialists. This is a great option for a household where there is more than one dog.  

4. Shampooing, combing, grooming. You can remove fleas manually with a flea comb. Similar to a lice comb, a flea comb is just a fine toothed come designed to "rake" the fleas and larva away. After grooming it is recommended to follow up with an anti-flea measure. 

5. Treat your home. In some extreme cases, some people choose to treat the home for flea larva, eggs, and pupates with chemicals.

Have you dealt with fleas?

What are your tips and tricks? 

Comment below and let us know!

About the author

Cory Eckert

Cory is the co-creator of and a life long dog enthusiast. From training livestock dogs as a child to working with obedience classes as an adult, it's hard to imagine Cory without a dog. Currently enjoying being a dog parent to Remi (a chocolate lab) and Annie (a golden retriever).