When To Call Exterminator for Fleas: Signs When To Call Pest Control for Flea

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | December 8, 2023

People leaving home wonder when to call an exterminator for fleas and the signs of flea infestation, as well as when to call pest control to kill fleas, exterminator cost, and flea treatment options.

It’s important to know when to call exterminator for fleas because you don’t want an infestation in your home.9

You don’t want to end up with your pets scratching uncontrollably, insects hopping on floors, clothes, and furniture, or getting red spots around your ankles from insect bites.

Fleas have been a thorn in the flesh to people since the dawn of time. Many people have reported treating their homes and pets and still having these creatures hopping about.

But, how do you know when to call exterminator for fleas?

The following guide explains all you need to know about flea extermination including the signs that indicate when to call an exterminator for fleas.

Fleas in House: 7 Signs When To Call Pest Control for Fleas

Unlike other insects, fleas do not make their presence known by walking across the counter in search of moisture or sugar or skittering across your kitchen floor when you turn on the lights.

They are also not as noisy as mosquitoes when biting you and your pets.

They are small and blend with a lot of pet fur and carpet colors. As a result, most people do not realize the problem immediately until there’s an infestation.

Fleas live outside, and getting rid of them is not the same as how to get rid of aphids. If you notice any of the seven signs below, then it’s time to call pest control for fleas.

1. Flea Eggs or Dirt

One of the major signs of trouble is visible traces of flea eggs or dirt.6 If you notice tiny dark spots at the base of the fur of your pet or in your carpet, then it’s time to call an exterminator. Fleas leave behind feces which accumulate to form flea dirt. If the feces are visible then you have a lot of fleas in your home.1

The same goes for flea eggs. They are harder to detect than flea dirt but again, if you can spot these eggs on your pets, carpets, and clothes, then you have a lot of fleas in your house. You should call an exterminator pronto.

2. Flea Sightings

Fleas are really tiny. They are tinier than bed bugs or mosquitoes.7 Their colors range from red to brown and they’re almost impossible to see in dark or beige-colored fur, fabrics, and carpeting.

However, they may be noticeably crawling or jumping on light-colored carpeting, bedding, or pet fur.

3. Bites on Ankles

Another sign of infestation is tiny red spots on your ankles caused by flea bites. Even though pets do not live in humans like they do in animals, they are more than happy to bite them.

Their bites do not look like the bites of other insects. Instead, they are pink or red and may become inflamed. However, they don’t swell up like the bites from bed bugs of mosquitoes. They are extremely itchy.

4. Scratching Pets

Fleas are more than just a nuisance, they’re a threat to pets. If your animals scratch, wriggle or rub against door frames and furniture, then they might have fleas.

In dire cases, you’ll notice animals gnawing or chewing their skin desperate to get rid of the crawling sensation of fleas biting them and moving around their bodies.

If you notice these signs, you need to do two things. One, you need to get the pet to a veterinarian for treatment and two, you need to contact an exterminator.

5. Pet Hair Loss

If your pet continues to bite and scratch to relieve their itching, they may start to lose their fur and cause abrasions on their skin irritating themselves.

Some types of fleas also cause a reaction in animals that leads them to lose patches of fur. If you notice significant fur loss in your pet, you should get a vet to check it out and call an exterminator at the slightest mention of fleas.

6. White Sock Test

Maybe you haven’t noticed any of the signs mentioned above. One way of finding out if you have fleas in your house is the white sock test. All you have to do is put on a pair of white socks and walk around the house.

Consider wearing high socks to reduce the likelihood of being bitten. Walk around the carpeted areas of your house for a few minutes. If you have fleas in your house, they will jump up on the sock to hitch a ride. While walking, you can shuffle your feet to stir up the fleas that might be hiding.

Photo of a pair of feet wearing white socks to determine the infestation of fleas in an area.

(Image: Po, Livi13)

After walking around for 10 minutes or more, remove the socks carefully and inspect them. What you are looking for is fleas, flea eggs, and dirt. If you notice them, call the exterminator immediately.

7. Pale Gums

A flea infestation might put your pet at the risk of getting anemia.8 Fleas feed on the blood of your pets which reduces blood flow on their body.

Anemia also means that the hemoglobin or red blood cells are reduced in the bloodstream of your pets.

A photo of a small dog which is suspected to be infected with fleas.

(Image: Sanchez, Juliane14)

If you notice that your pet has pale gums or is more tired than usual, this could indicate a serious flea infestation. Get your pet to the vet and if the diagnosis is flea bites then get an exterminator.

Flea Removal: Flea Exterminator Cost

One of the most common causes of flea infestation is pets bringing home unwanted guests that refuse to leave. What’s more, even if you are careful with your own animals, sometimes someone else’s pet can offload their friends that piggyback on unsuspecting pets or homeowners during a visit.

Flea infestation is tricky to eradicate because they settle into bedding, upholstery, carpeting or anywhere that is warm enough and close to a food source.2 If you see a flea in your home, you need to address the problem immediately before it becomes an infestation. Though there are many flea removal DIY methods, many people prefer using a flea exterminator.

In the US, the cost of flea extermination is approximately $75 to $400 and the national average is about $300. However, the process itself is quite a hassle and it’s crucial that the job is done thoroughly otherwise, stragglers will give birth to a whole new infestation that means you’ll need to exterminate all over again.

The cheapest option is not the best way to go because you may end up repeating the process over and over again. The most important thing is choosing an exterminator who is willing to give you options, has great references, and provides follow-up treatments in their contracts.

That being said, when considering when to call exterminator for fleas, one important thing to look at is costs. Flea exterminator costs depend on several components and understanding them can help you choose the best and most efficient contractor.

When To Call Exterminator for Fleas: Components in Calculating Flea Exterminator Cost

Several elements contribute to determining the cost of flea extermination. Some of these elements are specific to the individual job while others are a factor in every calculation. So you need to understand how each component contributes to the cost to help you come up with a budget. These elements include:

Home Size

The greater the area needing to be covered, the higher the pest control costs. Fleas have more space to spread out in larger homes. Therefore, the extermination will need more effort, time, and product. As a result, extermination in larger homes costs more than in smaller homes.

Size of Infestation

Prior to the flea removal process, an exterminator will come to your home to conduct an inspection. This step is crucial because you need to know if the problem really is fleas before you begin to treat the house. The inspector may find that you are infested with other bugs such as cockroaches and bed bugs.

Each pest has its own extermination process and you’ll find that the costs vary. For example, it’s much more expensive to exterminate bed bugs than fleas.

The main goal of an inspection is to determine the size of the infestation. It can be small and manageable; for example, your dog met up with another dog in the park and a few fleas hitched a ride home and settled around for a bit. In this case, the extermination process will be very quick and inexpensive.

However, if the residents in the home have not acknowledged their new guests for several months resulting in a dense infestation spread around the home, the cost will be much higher and will need multiple visits to clear the home. Small infestations usually cost $100 to $175, medium cost $175 to $550 and large cost $325 to $550.

The Location of Infestation

The inspection will also find out where the infestation is located. If the fleas are the outdoor type and are just hanging out in the yard, then the extermination process will only cost $75 to $100. This is because it’s easier to spray down an outdoor area than to dig into every potential corner in the house which can harbor fleas.

Photo of a cat scratching its ears due to fleas.

(Image: FOX12)

If the infestation is in the bedroom, it may cost around $150 because the fleas nestle in the numerous soft surfaces. The kitchen extermination will cost about $175 because you will have to take precautions so that the dishes, food, and food preparation areas are not contaminated.

As you can see, the cost of exterminating each room in the house is calculated individually. If there’s an infestation of the whole house, the cost will be an accumulation of all these individual crises. The table below shows the average cost of extermination around a home in the US.

Whole House$400

Treatment Method

The flea extermination process mostly involves applying a topical agent that kills adult fleas and destroys eggs and larvae so that they do not develop properly.3 The primary cost of treatment is also determined by the type of treatment method being used.5

Some infestations are hard to get rid of. They may need additional treatment methods which increases the cost. Sometimes, you will need to vacuum your home intensively and repeatedly to collect any dead fleas and those that escaped the insecticide. In some cases, the professionals handle these additional costs. In some cases, after the extermination process is complete, the exterminator may use steam cleaning for areas with crevices and soft surfaces and use the heat to get rid of any survivors.

If the infestation moves from the yard to the home, then the exterminator will have to spray the yard as well. This will add to the overall cost.

Treatment Frequency

Exterminations for small, localized infestations can be handled in single visits with perhaps one follow-up. Intense cases may take weeks or even months to eradicate. Some exterminators offer multiple visits in their initial contracts at a rate of $75 to $200.

If the treatment frequency is monthly you might end up paying $75, for a one-time treatment the cost is usually about $300, and for a yearly treatment you might pay $400.

Geographic Location

Flea extermination costs vary according to location. Since fleas lay eggs and hatch in warm climates, houses in warmer regions have active flea seasons all year. Areas that have cold seasons have dormant flea periods. Since exterminators will have busy and slow seasons, the costs may vary.

Additionally, some areas in the US have fees for environmental protection chemical disposal and this can affect the pricing of insecticides and pesticides.

Finally, the demand for flea extermination in large cities is greater than that of rural areas because apartments are packed more closely together. This demand increases the price of extermination services.

Exterminator Service

Some exterminator services have brand names that are recognized nationwide. People prefer using these brand names therefore, they enjoy the liberty of setting up much higher prices. Local contractors who have a great reputation because of their expertise also give these brand names a run for their money.

However, you should not be deterred by the many extermination services available because there are only so many flea treatment options. All the major and minor brands have similar costs because they use similar methods and products. Even so, some brands offer treatment packages that are competitively priced that smaller companies cannot match.

The goal, when looking for an exterminator is to find one who has knowledge and expertise and has a great reputation for customer service.

When To Call Exterminator for Fleas: Additional Costs and Considerations

Though the factors listed above affect exterminator costs, some situations need additional services to complete the job. These additional costs and considerations contribute to the overall charge of the service. They include:

1. Inspection

An inspection is necessary because it helps to determine the rate and place of infestation. Some companies offer free initial inspections while others charge about $75 to $100. If the exterminator finds fleas during the inspection, they may start the process right away or schedule it for a later date.

2. Additional Services

After the extermination process is complete, some homeowners opt for additional services to fully rid their homes of fleas. Some of these services include:

Additional ServiceCost
Whole-house cleaning$220 per visit
Pet flea treatment$10 pet flea shampoo bottle
Pet flea prevention$40 to $50 per year
Carpet Cleaning$50 to $70 per room
Entry point sealing$2 to $4.20 per linear foot of the service

When To Call Exterminator for Fleas: How Do Exterminators Get Rid of Fleas?

Now that you know when to call exterminator for fleas, you may wonder, how do exterminators eliminate fleas? There are a number of ways available. These methods include:

1. Flea Bombing $100 to $200

A flea bomb or fogger is a canister full of propellant and insecticide that is strategically placed in an area of a home, opened. The insecticide is then left to fill up the space with flea-killing fog that settles and coats surfaces in the home.

Compared to other methods, flea bombs are not quite effective. Some of the fleas escape by burrowing into carpets and fabrics or hiding in crevices where the fog cannot penetrate deeply enough to reach them.

Exterminators deploy flea bombs for purchased homes for use or single-room small infestations. It costs between $100 to $200 to purchase and clean up.

2. Flea Fumigation $175 to $150

Flea fumigation refers to the deployment of flea bombs or several flea foggers throughout the home sometimes involving sealing or tenting the house.10

Homeowners can buy flea foggers for nonprofessionals but they usually have limited effectiveness by comparison.

Top view of an exterminator at work.

(Image: Buonarroti, Michelangelo15)

Even though fumigation is an effective extermination process for some types of pests, it may not be effective when it comes to fleas. Therefore, professional exterminators combine this method along with spraying.

3. Heat Treatment: $300 to $500

Even though fleas thrive in warmer climates, they are very vulnerable to heat. They simply do not have bodies or shells that can withstand high heat. As a result, heat treatment is very effective in killing adult, egg, and larvae fleas.

The process costs about $400 and is used only if the infestation is limited to one room. The room temperature is raised to more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the fleas. These high temperatures make the method unsuitable for most situations. However, when it’s possible, heat treatment is effective, quick, and free of residue.

4. Spraying: $150 to $300

Spraying costs about $150 to $300 and forces the insecticide into crevices, and cracks. It also coats fabrics and surfaces where fleas live.

Spray treatments may take several hours and they are usually quite effective. That being said, you may need a follow-up visit because some larvae and eggs might survive the treatment.

5. Vacuuming: $80 to $140

Fleas are soft-bodied and a quick trip through a vacuum cleaner can kill them. Besides that, the eggs and larvae have little resistance to the vacuum’s suction force.

Most exterminators start the process with a thorough vacuum of the home before other treatments. This removes all as many larvae, eggs, and fleas as possible before starting other treatments.

An exterminator using a vacuum to remove fleas from foams.

(Image: شركة تعقيم بالرياض thehealthyhome.me/ar/sa16)

Once the extermination process is complete, some professionals will vacuum again to remove dead fleas and eggs that survived. This process will be included in their pricing at a charge of $80 to $140.

Pest Control for Fleas: DIY Vs. Hiring a Professional

If you peruse home improvement stores or pet stores, you’ll notice a wide collection of powders, foggers, sprays, and treatments for furniture, carpets, and pets. Most people start with these products when they notice fleas in their homes.

Unfortunately, most materials for pest control for fleas available to nonprofessionals are not quite as strong and effective. Additionally, the products are only enough to treat a small section of the home. Therefore, purchasing products for the whole house will cost just as much as an exterminator.

Additionally, after using the DIY flea removal methods, you’ll still need to call an exterminator because they are not quite as effective. Also, the carbon footprint of these insecticides is quite high. Some of them may not even be eco-friendly and may damage your house plants.  Lastly, using insecticides in your home can be very dangerous to you, your kids, and your pets therefore it’s better to call a professional than doing it yourself.4 When all odds fail, you’ll know when to call exterminator for fleas.

Control Fleas: How To Save Money on Flea Exterminator Cost

Once your home is infested, there aren’t too many ways to save money on flea exterminator costs. However, here are a few ways to control fleas and keep the costs down:

Focus on prevention: The best way to control fleas, and to save money is to prevent an infestation from occurring in the first place. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Staying up to date on flea treatments for your bets
  • Vacuuming the whole house thoroughly and regularly
  • Washing the bedding of pets frequently
  • Placing flea traps everywhere
  • Using Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Act quickly: Call an expert as soon as you notice the first signs of a flea problem. Smaller infestations are easier to treat than bigger ones.

Microscopic image of a flea.

(Image: CDC11)

Take on some of the work: You can agree to do some of the work like taking on the vacuuming before and after the treatment. This will definitely reduce costs.

To summarize, even though you can get some relief with over-the-counter flea bombs and sprays. These solutions never eliminate the problem. They are weaker and less effective than hiring a professional. Additionally, they fall short in killing the eggs of the fleas which will mature and give birth to new fleas creating another infestation.

Knowing when to call an exterminator for fleas is the first step in making sure you remove them from your home, for good.

Frequently Asked Questions About When To Call Exterminator for Fleas

What is the Best Pest Control for Fleas?

The best pest control for fleas is prevention. This could mean vacuuming your house regularly and keeping up to date with pet flea treatment.

What is the Best Home Flea Treatment?

This includes vacuuming the house thoroughly, spraying the house with over-the-counter sprays and vacuuming the house again.

What Do You Do if You Notice Fleas in House?

Call an exterminator immediately.

How Much Do Flea Exterminators Cost in the US?

Exterminator prices range from $75-$400.


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