Sand Fleas: Appearance, Behavior, Bites & How to Avoid Them

If you ever get an itching or tingling sensation when you leave the beach or a garden, you may have got a sand flea bite. However, the decaying organic matters are the preferred food source for sand fleas, while a person is not their preferred food source.

Some sand fleas don’t have the ability to infect your home. For example, mole crabs live under the sand on the beach and do not come into your homes freely. But some other sand fleas, like mosquitoes, may enter the home and cause a nuisance.

What are Sand Fleas? 

Sand fleas are tiny crustaceans that usually live on sandy beaches or in the intertidal region (the part between low and high lines). The sand fleas are also known as amphipods, sandhoppers, or beach hoppers. Different Sand fleas have different colors, including tan, brown, or gray.

The sand flea is not actually a flea. It doesn’t bite a human like other fleas. As an alternative, the decaying organic matters (like a dead animal or algae) are their preferred food. They may also feed on small algae or microplankton.

Sand Fleas

The sand flea is one of the major elements of coastal ecosystems because it assists in breaking down organic matter and ensures the provision of food for other animals.

Sand fleas are most commonly found on sandy beaches. You can easily find these fleas at night time when the tide is out.

The size of the sand fleas varies from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. They are usually gray or brown in color. Certain types of sand flies may leap into the air to escape predators or navigate the sand.

What do Sand Fleas look like?

Beach hoppers are small crustaceans, usually around 0.25 inches long. These fleas are most commonly found around beaches. Different sand fleas have different colors, but most fleas have a green, brown, or gray color.

These fleas have comparatively thick, long antennae and numerous pairs of legs. The sand flea has two branching appendages sticking out from the body’s back.

It loves oxygen. It uses the oxygen level to pinpoint your location. Therefore, it is important not to flap your arms or run away after being stung by sand fleas.

Dark colors also attract sand fleas. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wear light-colored clothing when going out.

Symptoms of Sand Fleas infestation

When sand fleas dig their long sucking holes into your skin, you may feel pain. It leaves a small red mark that enlarges and becomes awful.

Symptoms of Sand Fleas infestation

Following are the major symptoms of the sand fleas infestation:

  • Allergic Reaction: Few people have allergic reactions to sand flea bites, which may lead to more serious symptoms such as anaphylaxis, difficulty breathing, and swelling reactions.
  • Pain: The bites of these fleas may be painful, especially if they’re irritated or hurt.
  • Rash: In some situations, sand flea bites may lead to a rash spreading across the skin. The rash may be accompanied by redness, swelling, and itching.
  • Itchy Red Bumps: Sand flea bites usually appear as small, itchy red bumps. They gather in groups or appear individually.
  • Fever: In some conditions, a sand flea bite may cause a fever.
  • Skin Infections: Scratching a sand flea bite may cause bacterial skin infections that may lead to oozing, swelling, or redness.

If you experience one or more of the above-given symptoms, you should immediately contact a doctor. If there is a risk of infection, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications or antibiotics to relieve pain and itching.

Where do Sand Fleas live?

Sand fleas are most commonly lived underneath the beach sand. These fleas come out for food at night time. Therefore, the sand flea becomes most active at night. However, they don’t come out during the daytime and remain hidden underneath the sand.

Sandhoppers are found along the Atlantic coast. Orchestia gammarellus is a species resident in Europe but is now also observed in some specific regions of the Atlantic coast. You can observe certain types of sand fleas along the Gulf Coast, like the western Gulf sand hopper or Gulf sand hopper.

How can you prevent sand fleas at home? 

You don’t have to worry about getting divest of sand fleas when you know how to prevent them. To prevent these bugs from entering your home, you should follow the below-given preventive tips:

  • Regularly schedule pest control
  • Clean the floors
  • Clean your surfaces
  • Use bug spray

1) Regularly Schedule Pest Control 

The ideal way to keep bugs away from your house is to hire a reputable pest control company for regular inspections and treatments once or twice a year.

2) Clean the Floors

To prevent yourself from a sand flea, you should regularly clean your floors with steaming. This process will help to remove some of the sand flea’s hiding spaces, and heat will kill them with the passage of time.

3) Clean your Surfaces 

Sand fleas usually like to hide in different items. Therefore, they try to hide in the rugs, bedding, dresses, and other fabrics. Therefore, all surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned. The sand flea may also hide in crevices and cracks before binding itself to you or your pet.

4) Use Bug Spray

One of the best methods to prevent yourself from sand fleas is to use bug sprays while moving at the beach. Although they are not true bugs, some commercial repellents can control these biting pests.

Read More: Bad Catalytic Converter Symptoms and Causes

What is the difference between sand fleas and sand flies?

Sand flies and sand fleas are two small different biting pests that inhabit in the sand, but they don’t belong to the same families. These two insects also have many behavioral and appearance differences.

sand flies

Sand fleas are also famous by the name of sand crabs or beach fleas. A sand flea is a very small creature. The size of the sand fleas varies from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. It exists on a sandy beach and is sometimes fallacious for insects. They are attracted to oxygen.

They contain long antennae and flattened body. These have the ability to leap great distances on their powerful legs. They are primarily scavengers, feeding on decaying animals and plants. But a few types may also bite animals and humans.

In contrast, Sand flies are small flying insects that have the Psychodidae family. The sand flies usually live in swampy or sandy places. These insects are famous because of their painful bites. They are most active at dawn and sunset.

Sand flies are attracted to CO2 and the heat given off by animals and humans. Certain types of sand flies are most famous because of their ability to transfer diseases (such as sand fly fever and leishmaniasis) to animals and humans.

In short, sand fleas are small shellfish that live on sandy beaches and usually feed decaying animals and organic matter, while sand flies are small flying insects that are famous because of their painful bites that spread disease.

In the below-given comparison, we have deeply explained the major differences between Sand fleas and Sand flies:

Sand FleasSand Flies
Sand fleas belong to Talitridae family.Sand flies belong to Psychodidae family.
These are not true flies.They are true flies.
These are small creatures.These are flying insects.
They usually like to live underneath the beach sand.They live in swampy or sandy areas.
They can’t fly but they have the ability to jump for a long distance.They can easily fly from one place to another.
They don’t harm humans.The bite of the sand flies is painful that spreads disease.
They are small than the sand flies.Sand flies are much bigger than sand fleas and are 2 to 3 mm long.
Sand fleas are attracted to oxygen.Sand flies are attracted to carbon dioxide.

FAQ Section

Can sand fleas bite?

Sand fleas are similar to other fleas. They jump great distances on their powerful legs. That’s probably why sand flea got the wrong name, not because he bites humans. So, the only thing in common between real fleas and these little creatures is their ability to jump.

Are sand fleas dangerous?

A sand flea is supposed to be a very dangerous flea. When the sand fleas find a target to attack, they stay and start eating the animal, eventually killing the animal. Although they aren’t hazardous to humans, many people confuse them with biting midges in coastal regions and bites gnats. So, it is widely believed that they are bites that can stay. Sand fleas don’t bite humans and pets.

How do you tell if sand fleas are under your skin?

If a sand flea is under your skin, you will feel Tungiasis condition. Tungiasis is a very sorrowful, prickly skin condition that appears when a female sand flea hideaway into your skin and feed during spawning. A white circle with black dots in the center will start developing in such a condition. However, these injuries usually affect the feet but may occur anywhere on the body.

How can I treat a sand flea bite?

Sand flea bites are so itchy that it is almost not possible to resist the urge to scratch. But you shouldn’t scratch the sand flea bite. Scratching only leads to self-harm and increases the risk of infection. Using lotion on the bitten skin may assist you in relieving itching. Hydrocortisone and calamine lotions are excellent for such bites. If you don’t have access to any of these lotions, you may also use a baking soda paste for an itchy bite. However, you should quickly contact a professional doctor if you contain sand flea bites with black dots in the center.

How long does a sand flea live?

A female sand flea can remain in the host’s body for 4 to 6 weeks before dying.

Can I bring sand fleas home?

Sand fleas like to live in sandy soil, so they are less likely to be brought into the home. Sand fleas are most active at night when most bathers are not engaged in beach activities.

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