Fleas are the 2,500-plus species of small, flightless, parasitic insects belonging to the order Siphonaptera. Growing about 3 millimeters long in adulthood, they consume blood from their hosts, which include a wide range of warm-blooded vertebrate, such as humans, dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds. Moreover, they also transmit a bunch of viral and bacterial diseases to their hosts.
So, it is a no-brainer that you wouldn’t want these tiny critters to infest your household. And you can stop that from happening with the help of the insects and animals that feed on them. Good news is that there are plenty of such creatures. Below, you’ll find a list of eight natural predators of fleas.
Ants, although deemed as a hazard themselves, can come in handy in getting rid of fleas. These flea predators feed on virtually everything consisting of plant parts or insects. Among them, the 200-plus species known as the army ants are the best predators of fleas. They have earned the name for a reason – they advance in large troops, feeding on anything that comes their way. Even lizards and spiders fall prey to army ants – so, fleas don’t stand a chance against them.
Fire ants, the species identified by their bright red color and large anthills, are also known to feed on flea larvae. However, they aren’t any less of a problem than fleas. Unless you are okay with being left with red bumps all over your body that itch as well as burn, you shouldn’t bring these ants anywhere near your household.
Beetles are another group of small insects known to feed on fleas. But not all species of beetles will do that – some depend entirely on plant parts, like foliage and roots, for their survival. Among the beetles that do eat fleas, most are active at night.
Ladybugs are probably the most effective of all beetles when it comes to wiping out fleas and other unwelcomed pests. This is the reason why you can find them at gardening stores in almost any locality. Once this flea predator has reached adulthood, a ladybug consumes 50 to 60 insects daily.
Although nematodes or roundworms are smaller than fleas, they are capable of reducing flea population in your lawn by up to 80 percent. Also, you will start getting results in just about 24 hours of introducing them. After getting inside the fleas’ systems through pores and body openings, these microscopic, multicellular creatures release a type of bacteria that kills their hosts. Once the hosts are dead, they begin to grow and reproduce in large numbers.
There are two species of nematodes that are used in controlling fleas. One of them is steinernema carpocapsae, which comes in handy in dealing with highly mobile surface-adapted fleas and their larvae. The other species is steinernema feltiae, which is effective against soil-based fleas.
It’s highly unlikely that you have never caught a lizard in the act of preying on an insect. These small, insectivorous reptiles are found in almost every part of the world. Instead of giving a long chase, they tend to sit and wait for their preys to come near them, and launch a surprise attack.
Usually seen clinging on the walls, this predator of fleas are known to move from one household to another in search of insects. And one of the insects that they have an appetite for is flea. Whether it is a larva, pupa or adult flea, a lizard won’t mind swallowing it up.
Next flea predators are spiders. You might be one of those people who shiver and squirm at the sight of spiders. But you should know that they are more often than not less dangerous that you think they are. In fact, their presence in your household could be good news as they consume fleas, or for that matter, any insects that end up in their webs.
Once an insect crawls into a spider web, it gets stuck, with the motion and vibration on the web signifying the spider that its meal has arrived. But that isn’t the only way a spider predates. Sometimes, you’ll find it roaming around in search of the prey like most predators.
6. Small Birds
A wide variety of birds, most of which are small in size, can help you get rid of fleas and other pests. If you can somehow manage to lure them into your yard, they will peck around through the grass and eliminate fleas one by one.
Starlings, robins, and grackles are some of the notable predators of fleas. Setting a bird feeder or a birdbath is a great way of inviting these birds to pay a visit to your yard. And if you’re worried that they would be only interested in the seeds you have put in the feeder, you would be glad to know that the seeds make up only about 10 percent of their total food intake.
Frogs are primarily carnivorous amphibians depending on meat from small insects, including fleas, flies, mosquitos, and moths. The larger species of frogs, like the American bullfrog, would go on to hunt and consume larger creatures like lizards, rodents, and snakes.
Although frogs do enjoy munching on fleas, they probably aren’t the most suitable candidates for the task of eliminating fleas. While fleas mostly reside in a dry land environment, this predator of fleas tend to prefer living in moist places as their semi-permeable skin make them susceptible to dehydration. Hence, it is difficult to use them in combating fleas.
Before you become paranoid, you should know that you don’t need to bring rattlesnakes and copperheads to your yard to control flea population. Instead, you can turn to the much-smaller and less-lethal Garter snakes.
Varying from 46 to 137 centimeters in length, garter snakes feed on fleas, leeches, slugs and almost any creature they can overpower. With the little amounts of neurotoxic venom that they produce, they are incapable of seriously injuring or killing humans. So, unless you or anyone in your family has ophidiophobia, you can introduce these harmless snakes to your yard.
I hope that this article on flea predators was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!