Fleas are terribly upsetting little creatures that can make life for you and your pets absolutely miserable. If fleas infested your potted plants, it would be an absolute disaster for everyone involved in the experience.
While fleas can briefly live in potted plants if they are brought into your home by pets or on clothes, they cannot survive on indoor plants. Other bugs, such as fungus gnats or springtails, which can live in potted plant soil, are often mistaken for fleas and can be fairly easily taken care of.
Even if fleas can’t actually stay on the potted plants, you probably do still want to deal with any fleas that you find in your home. And while fleas don’t like to live on indoor plants, they can love to live in outdoor soil, which can be a problem if they get into your garden.
Where Do Fleas Like To Live?
Fleas like to live in moist cool places while they’re waiting for animals to pass by. Outdoors, this means they like to live in shady places under bushes or on the inner leaves of plants. Because of this, you would expect indoor fleas to act the same way.
Why don’t they? The primary reason for this is that inside there are fewer advantages for a flea that comes from living on a plant. While there might be a little more moisture, it’s rarely a different temperature near where the plant is compared to the rest of the home.
Indoor fleas pretty much always have immediate access to a food source as soon as they leave their larval stage. Female fleas lay their eggs on the animal they live on, but unlike lice, they have no way of securing these eggs. The eggs drop off onto the ground wherever they are.
Outdoors, Once a flea leaves its larval stage, it will probably need to find a comfortable place to hide while it waits for a permanent home to pass by. However, indoors this will probably be much less of a worry for the flea, which should encounter an animal on which it can live within a few hours of emerging from the cocoon.
Because of this, it’s unlikely that any of your potted plants are harboring any more fleas than any other part of your home. However, your instinct to cut the problem off at the source is correct. As much as 59% of fleas in your home are probably in their larval stage, meaning that in order to deal with the fleas on your pets, you’ll also need to treat the rest of your home as well.
Indoors, fleas end up on pet beds, in carpets, under and on furniture, along walls, and in the cracks of hardwood floors. These are the most important places to treat for a flea infestation, and you can usually deal with them by simply vacuuming and cleaning them regularly.
Bugs That Are Commonly Mistaken For Fleas
It’s not unusual for people to discover an infestation of weird bugs that don’t like to fly on their potted plant and assume that these bugs are fleas. However, for the reasons earlier discussed, these bugs are almost always something else.
Springtails are the closest one-to-one comparison to fleas. Like fleas, they don’t fly and their primary mode of transportation is jumping. They’re also tiny, and since fleas are already barely visible, it makes sense that someone who wasn’t familiar with bugs would confuse them for fleas.
Springtails might be kind of annoying, but they also might be the most harmless bug in the entire world. They will not hurt your plants or anything else in your home. You can probably even eat them, but you probably shouldn’t because they are tiny and wouldn’t really fill you up.
An increase in springtails in the soil occurs in over-watered soil most often. The best way to “deal” with an overabundance of springtails is to simply wait for the soil to dry out completely between watering times. However, there’s not really any need to bother them as again, they are totally harmless.
Adult fungus gnats are often mistaken for fleas because they rarely like to fly. When they fly, they are fairly weak fliers, meaning that you can usually catch and kill them. Their dark color and their preferred habitat, which is near potted plants or bright lights/windows can identify them.
While adult fungus gnats are harmless to both plants and people, the insect’s larval stage can cause serious damage to a plant’s root system if they are present in large enough numbers.
Fortunately, fungal gnats spend most of their life cycle in the soil and around the plant they live on, which makes them fairly simple to deal with.
They prefer damp soil, but the first step to ending a fungal gnat infestation is to ensure that your plant’s soil has good drainage and to avoid over-watering. Like with springtails, it’s good to wait for at least the top layer of soil to dry completely in between watering times.
This is usually enough to prevent an infestation as long as you’re using pasteurized growing agents in your soil, which should prevent the bugs from being introduced.
The best way to deal with an already existent infestation is to introduce one of the various biological agents that can be purchased on the market that is commonly used for insect control. The steinernema feltiae nematode, Hypoaspis mite, and bacillus thuringiensis subspecies of israelensis of bacteria are all effective choices to deal with this pest.
Fungal gnats may be bad for your plant, but they are much less annoying of a pest to deal with than fleas. At least these particular gnats don’t bite! And unless the infestation gets terrible, your plant will probably be just fine.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.