Fleas are small parasitic insects that live by sucking the blood of a host mammal or bird. If you’ve ever had a flea infestation on your pet or in your home, you know the disruption that these unwanted pests can cause for your life. Before we jump into it, make sure you know what fleas look like. And while you can certainly take care of flea infestations through human-made solutions, fleas do have some natural predators that could certainly help shield you from potential flea outbreaks to begin with!
What Eats Fleas? Common Natural Predators To Fleas
Fleas exist low in the food chain compared to other animals and insects. They have very little natural defenses or ways to protect themselves, their larvae, or their eggs. If a predator wants to have them for a meal, they very likely will do so.
Fleas have plenty of natural predators that exist around them and help with controlling the flea population within an ecosystem. Let’s take a look at what animals or insects that eat fleas.
Not only are ants scavengers, but they are predators. They will overwhelm and kill other insects and also consume their larvae or eggs. Fleas, their larvae, and their eggs are easily susceptible to ants, especially when they are not attached to a host.
If you’re scratching your head and wondering what the heck a nematode is… I got you don’t worry! Nematodes are microscopic worms that exist in soil and aggressively pursue insects as their main form of sustenance.
Nematodes are attracted to the shifting temperature of the soil caused by carbon dioxide emissions of different pests. Once they sense a target insect, they seek it out and usually kill it within 48 hours. Their main role in the ecosystem is to help with pest population control as they are only harmful to pest insects… including fleas!
While beetles eat a variety of different organisms, similarly to Ants, they will consume larvae or eggs of other insects. The most notable beetle that is a predator to other insects such as fleas is the Lady Bug, technically considered a carnivorous insect!
These insects are perfect for gardeners with a bug problem, as they are super helpful with population control of unwanted pests!
Another carnivorous predator, Spiders are most known to eat small insects such as ants, flies, beetles, moths, and fleas. These arachnids use their sticky webs to trap and suffocate their prey prior to eating.
While fleas can live on Birds as a host, birds also kill and eat insects, including fleas! Insects are the perfect sustenance for baby birds as well, and make up a large portion of their diet early on in their life.
In addition to worms, slugs, and snails, insects make up a large portion of a frog’s diet. While frogs may not be a common visitor at most people’s houses, anyone with a backdoor pond knows that frogs will somehow find their way to that water source.
Insects such as fleas make up a large portion of a Lizard’s diet. These reptiles are often around in the summer months and can be a big help with flea population control!
Whether you like them or not, many species of snake consume insects and contribute to population control of fleas in an ecosystem. The most common snake that you might find in your space is the garter snake, which are snakes that are incapable of seriously injuring humans. However, their venom is lethal to their prey, which includes fleas!
Where Are Fleas In The Food Chain?
If you think back to biology class in high school, you probably learned that every living organism is part of a food chain that helps balance the ecosystem in which those insects or mammals exist. And while that is true, fleas are an interesting insect to consider within that structure.
So where do fleas exist in the food chain? The answer is two-fold!
1) Fleas are parasites. This means that they feed on the blood of another animal to survive. And while that feeding can lead to the death of the animal (it typically will not, this is just an extreme example), fleas do not actually feed on the animal itself, they just consume their blood. This does not mean that fleas exist in the food chain above the birds or animals that they feed on, moreso, they typically coexist with those animals.
2) Fleas are LOW on the food chain in comparison to many other animals or insects. They have many natural predators in their ecosystem, which makes their position in the food chain low, just like many other insects. The big difference for fleas is that other insects tend to have fleas in their diet, while fleas only participate in their parasitic relationships with larger animals.
Final Thoughts On Natural Predators To Fleas
So what does this mean for us? I think a few things! Obviously, we don’t want to trade in a flea infestation for an Ant infestation or for a plethora of ladybugs flying around our homes. However, leaving small snakes, frogs, or lizards to exist around your space might not be the worst thing in the world when it comes to possibly preventing a flea infestation in your space.
We all know that fleas can be quite a nuisance to us and our pets or homes, however, they exist as part of the natural ecosystem in many environments! They have a role in the environment as well as a set of natural predators that help keep their population under control. While it might be our human nature to want to shoo unwanted guests from our property lines, it might be worth considering that some of your natural neighbors might be helping shield you from a flea infestation!
If you are looking for a DIY way to get rid of fleas, then check out some of our guides:
- Getting rid of fleas with diatomaceous earth
- Getting rid of fleas with vinegar
- Getting rid of fleas with bleach
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on what eats fleas, and I hope it was helpful in understanding the overall ecosystem around your home!