Introduction: Catch 50 Fleas in One Night

Picture of Catch 50 Fleas in One Night

With this home built flea catcher I was able to catch 50 fleas in one night. Yes I certainly did count them!

I have seen several other prototypes on the internet, but I wanted to share my experience with my results.

The part list.
Dish Soap
Ground Black Pepper
LED Night Light
Container Lid
Toaster Over Tray

There are several flea traps on the market. Here is one such example. However they contain a sticky pad that you will need to eventually replace. I am adding this language expressly for the "I Could Make That" Contest. Please vote and share with a friend =)

Step 1:

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This part of the experiment verifies that soapy water will work for the trap, but regular water will not. The soap reduces the water surface tension. Basically this trap wants to drown the flea, not let it glide on the surface of the water. Why did I use pepper? It is similar in size and weight of a flea. If the solution is correct and it pulls a small grain of pepper, then it will definitely pull down a flea into the trap.

Step 2:

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Now that we know how to verify the solution. We take our lid, fill it with water, and squeeze generous amounts of soap into it. The ratio is unclear at this time, but with the pepper it doesn't matter. Simply stir the water a bit and keep adding soap until the when you add a pinch of pepper, it sink right to the bottom of the lid. The tray is here so that my cat doesn't drink the soapy water. I doubt it would happen because soapy water doesn't taste good, but it is here as a precaution.

My best guess on the water to soap ratio: 2 cups water to 4 TBSP soap.

Step 3:

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Okay here you will see the trap all setup and in place. The LED night light is plugged in right above it. The fleas will jump towards the light, and bam they will sink into the soapy water.

Step 4:

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Here are the results. I counted 50 fleas caught in trap in the morning. So I will count this as success.

On the left side of the picture is some of the pepper scattered about, but the rest are in fact fleas.

Step 5:

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As a side note I must say I did see the very first flea land into the water, before I added to soap. The flea just glided onto the water, but once I added the soap the little guy couldn't glide on the water surface tension and sank to the bottom. I must admit that I did feel bad for the little guy. He did thrash around a bit just like any other creature of the animal kingdom might do if they were drowning. This is a warning that this method is non toxic and eco friendly, but it will indeed drown any flea that lands in the trap.


Lucy2941 (author)2016-08-29

Tried this out last night after it got dark for a few hours. Worked pretty good I'd say. I'll keep doing this for a few more nights but I have a question. I have no carpets in my house it's all hard wood floors is there anything else I can do/use that's safe because I have small children and we're all getting ate up. Any suggestions would be appreciated!!

ecoben (author)Lucy29412017-10-13

If you no carpets even better. Fleas tend to lay the eggs in the carpet which can be gross. I would recommend vacuuming and mopping the floors more often. Soapy water with the optional splash of bleach would also keep the floors clean and sanitised.

ecoben (author)Lucy29412016-08-29

Great work. I love seeing the photo. I would do this for a few nights and put fresh water until you stop catching fleas.

Lacie Schaefer (author)2016-09-24

can a lamp work for this?????!!!!!!

ecoben (author)Lacie Schaefer2017-10-13

I think a lamp would work fine, however it would use more electricity.

I placed three small pastic cotainers (the ones you might use for dipping sauce) filled halfway with dollar store brand dishsoap, no water, and not under direct light sources but rather in each corner of the room, this morning they each had ten or more in them! Definitely not to discredit the extra steps as useful, but if you are without a heatsource & too lazy to make a soapwater solution, I was pleasantly surprised by how well these effortless traps worked.

P.s. I am out for flea genocide. They are a parasite straight from hell. ?

IsabellaG12 (author)IsabellaG122016-09-25

That was if you are without a light source**. You don't need a heat source!

ecoben (author)IsabellaG122016-10-03

Actually you do NEED a light source. The only way this is working for you is if your room is dangerously infested with fleas. Have you ever seen moths going towards a flame?

If you had read my instructions I detail that the main reason for this project was to show that the fleas are not going towards the HEAT, but rather are attracted to the LIGHT.

lakawak (author)ecoben2017-10-10

Sorry ben..but you are wrong. You caught that many because your house is totally infested (dangerously so) not because of your set up. fleas are REPELLED by light. The prefer the dark crevices of carpets. They ARE attracted to warmth, which is why they jump onto animals in the first place. (Animals don't emit light, in case you were wondering.) Incandescent lights work because the heat they give off overcomes their dislike of light. But with small night lights or LED bulbs that stay cool, any fleas you catch will be simply from them jumping around normally to get around. You would do just as well to simply leave the plate on the floor by itself

ecoben (author)lakawak2017-10-13

I don't usually delete comments but tempted on this one since it is quite aggressive and negative. I had great results, so did many users here, and the research matches the results. Again the whole point of the project was to prove that fleas are not drawn to the heat signature of animals. A plate on a floor would not have the same results and many users here describe having better results than the kits that are sold. There are no chemicals or hazards with this project.

Very curious. Do you have animals? Did you even attempt to try the experiment?

IsabellaG12 (author)ecoben2016-10-04

I did correct my typo regarding that. but my comment was made simply to help anyone else who may have them as badly as I did. Pleased to say they are gone after careful cleaning every day. Thanks for your help.

Karjinx made it! (author)Lacie Schaefer2017-07-16

the darker green attracted more fleas than the light green or blue.

Karjinx (author)Lacie Schaefer2017-07-16

I bought 2 little rectangular green glowing 0.5 watt night lights (2 in package) at a dollar store. I found they did the best at attracting fleas over all the different types of light I tried. And they hardly use any hydro. I leave them on 24 hours a day now in my darkened bedroom near where the dogs sleep.......they are so energy efficient and attract more fleas. Worth the $1 investment.

ecoben (author)Lacie Schaefer2016-10-03

Any light source will work. The night light works great because it can safely be over the water. Remember safety first. Also be advised that a lamp will use a lot more power to keep on all night vs a night light. An LED night light is probably the lowest power sources of light possible, unless you have an LED lamp.

betterways (author)2017-04-25

Thanks. I've done this before & knew to use soapy water. (use soapy water to rinse off a flea comb if you animal is bad enough you need to comb them out.) But you had some useful ideas. And verified that an LED bulb will work, which is the info I was searching for. Please, everyone, don't use sticky traps. I caught a gecko in mine which I didn't want. Especially never use those glue traps for rodents. They can catch a lot of things you wouldn't have wanted to harm. I volunteer at a wildlife center and we often have to deal with birds stuck in the traps.

ecoben (author)betterways2017-10-13

Great to hear this project is helping the wildlife. The whole point of the project was the keep fleas under control without negative effects to the environment. Great to hear that this works better than sticky traps.

AllenG35 made it! (author)2016-10-12

Take 5 quart ice cream bucket, cut holes about 1 inch from bottom. Take lid and cut hole just big enough to hold night light. Add a couple drops of soap and water.

ecoben (author)AllenG352017-10-13

Great twist. Hope it works. Looks like the same basic idea.

Pipchip2 (author)2017-08-05

Fleas are attracted to yellow light, carbon dioxide, movement, heat and vibration. Use a tea light in the plate bowl/pan off soapy water. They have five testing of all different wavelengths of light and found that 80% of the fleas in a dark room will head for the light source within 40 min... pasted below... But candle or tea lights work the bomb!

ecoben (author)Pipchip22017-10-13

I highly disagree with this comment. Most insects cannot see yellow light. Also the research and the whole point of the project was to prove that fleas do not go after heat. Hence a LED light uses less power and is much safer than using a candle.

Karjinx made it! (author)2017-07-16

I tried 3 different types of night lights. Exactly the same as yours, the one that has a small light bulb like the old Christmas type bulb, but clear......and a little rectangular green glowing LED type 0.5 watt. This green LED by far attracted the most. All 3 were located the same distance from the dog's bed. I counted 72 fleas in one night!!!!! The other 2 only had 9 and 4.

I used to have one of those flea traps with the light & sticky board. So I knew your homemade hack would work. But to surpass the store bought trap by a LANDSLIDE was surprising! I'm from Ontario Canada where we had an unusually mild winter. Though I've had many cats and dogs, this is our 1st time having fleas. Vet says he is seeing at least quadruple flea infested pets this year. We have always used flea drops & collars, and the sticky trap as prevention, we've been flea free so far. Until now!

Thank you for your excellent trap instructions. Anyone want to buy a slightly used store bought flea trap? It came up empty last night except for 2 dog hairs.

ecoben (author)2016-10-03

One part of the project was to make a cheap flea trap. This trap only uses a few drops of soap. Using lots of dish soap would create a similar affect, but soap costs more than using water.

Again you do not need a heat source, but you do need a light source. But if you are catching fleas everywhere you may need to thoroughly clean your room. The traps you are using are working from the fleas randomly jumping inside VS using a beacon to get all of them out of your room.

laudlina (author)2016-08-19

Hey! This sounds great and has already helped a little (caught some of them).

I have one question though - can I use the same water multiple times? I mean should I make a new soapy water for every night or can I use the water from last night if there are not too many fleas inside?

Thank You!

ecoben (author)laudlina2016-10-03

I'm sure you can you use the same water for the week. Eventually the water might get dirty, it might evaporate, or the fleas in the water might be gross. Use your best judgement. I have found after the first night most of the fleas for that room have been trapped. But you could keep it going for a few nights to see what happens.

EmilieB13 (author)2016-08-03

I found a few fleas on my legs when I entered a room in the house which no one had been in lately and then have sprayed and vacuumed every day for the past few days and have just started doing the traps - only with a tea light as have no small night light - and found about 3 the first night and only 1 the next day. Is this a good sign then as there is still 1 in the trap? If I keep vacuuming every day and doing the trap do you think that will do if I stop seeing anymore?

ecoben (author)EmilieB132016-10-03

This type of flea trap is a good way to catch fleas, but it's also a good way to see how many fleas you might have in your house. When you used it after cleaning its more like a flea sensor now to double check your work. If you catch very little it most likely means that you don't have a flea problem. This is good news.

BtheBike (author)2016-02-17

dont have animals but live in apartment building with some people with cats . Guessing its how i got a few flea bites lately . Trying this right now

ecoben (author)BtheBike2016-07-18

Let us know the results. If you don't actually have pets this should work quite fast.

BtheBike (author)ecoben2016-07-19

I must have had a minor problem . The light over soapy water was fruitless (flealess) . I ended up vacuuming 3 times a week with a flea collar in the canister and leaving the vacuum outside. Not had a single bite in months. Knock on wood because it usually pops up when the summer heat kicks in lets see =)

EmilieB13 (author)BtheBike2016-08-03

I found a few fleas on my legs when I entered a room in the house which no one had been in lately and then have sprayed and vacuumed every day for the past few days and have just started doing the traps - only with a tea light as have no small night light - and found about 3 the first night and only 1 the next day. Is this a good sign then as there is still 1 in the trap? If I keep vacuuming every day and doing the trap do you think that will do if I stop seeing anymore?

BtheBike (author)ecoben2016-07-19

I must have had a minor problem . The light over soapy water was fruitless (flealess) . I ended up vacuuming 3 times a week with a flea collar in the canister and leaving the vacuum outside. Not had a single bite in months. Knock on wood because it usually pops up when the summer heat kicks in lets see =)

KenV8 made it! (author)2016-08-01

I made (a rendition of) this.
TomCat Glue boards can be bought in a 4-pack which, with minor trimming around edge (but not into the glue) fit very nicely into the end of a Pop/Beer carton.
I just cut the end of the carton off leaving about a 1 -1 1/2 inch wall and placed the trimming glue board inside.
I clipped a booklight (bright one) onto the edge and shined the light down over the glue board.
In the FIRST HOUR, I have caught 6 fleas. YEA!!!

Thanks for the tips...

KathrynA6 (author)2015-11-27

Read ALL the comments. These fleas are driving me bonkers and poisons are out of the question. Just set this up with a plastic basket to discourage my dogs from investigating the dish. Found this study about flickering light working best. They also mention putting a green filter over the light.

ecoben (author)KathrynA62016-07-18

You are correct. There are other studies that show flickering vs steady light. But most people have night lights somewhere in their house and they are easy to buy at the store. The biggest impact is that you don't have to have a heat source, which is the most common myth.

LizH20 (author)2015-10-22

I have to try this, My dog has fleas and I have to vacuum every day. Thanks for posting! XD

ecoben (author)LizH202016-07-18

Sure thing. Let us know the results.

ghettogurl89. (author)2015-09-28

I never had a problem with fleas until my home girl brought her dog to my house. I noticed I was getting bit around my ankles. But I have one question do I have to use a night light over the trap

ecoben (author)ghettogurl89.2015-09-28

New step: don't invite your rachet friends over. Only joking.

Yes, you must use a night light. They are not attracted to heat, but they will jump towards the light. Good luck.

DiannaB11 (author)ecoben2016-02-06

You can use a candle as well. You can't put a candle straight in the water. I have done this numerous times

ecoben (author)DiannaB112016-07-18

Neat trick. Any light source should work including a candle. Please be careful with an open flame and I wouldn't leave unattended. Also, the research shows that fleas are not attracted to heat, but rather are attracted to the light.

MelanieP21 (author)2016-02-15

My dogs are 11 and three and for the first time...fleas. I will happily try this. Do you have to do this in every room? Can I use a normal night light? Or one that directs light into the bowl of soapy water? I'll take any advice!

ecoben (author)MelanieP212016-07-18

I would do one room at a time. Rotate each night until you have the done all the rooms and you can also see the results, without having to buy anything extra for each room. Any night light should work great. I prefer LED night lights because they only use pennies of electricity per year.

YvonneD15 (author)2016-04-26

I'm trying something a bit different. I used the lid of a salsa container and spread an thin layer of mineral oil, set a dollar store LED light in front and caught 2 fleas in a very short time. I'm going to move the trap around, under beds, because I've already laundered all our linens and fogged our 2-story house twice. My cat is indoor only so we think he acquired fleas from our pet-sitter! The kitty has had a professional grooming, a lemon juice bath by me, a dose of Capstar (puking!!) and a dose of Comfortis administered by our vet. On the plus side the fleas I'm still seeing are super tiny, not the ginormous mutant fleas on my kitty.

I really hope the light trap continues to help me monitor where the surviving fleas are still hiding in the carpet.

ecoben (author)YvonneD152016-07-18

Interesting variation. I think mineral oil might be more expensive than soapy water, but I understand people want to try what they already have in the house.

SusanT68 (author)YvonneD152016-05-14

Is this for a dog? Also can I use the frontline spray to fog if I've just used the Advantage topical on my dog? I can't wait to try your mineral oil flea trap idea?

YvonneD15 (author)SusanT682016-05-14

Dog or cat. Fleas are fleas.
You just have to be more persistent than they are. I'm all for a combination of methods to achieve zero pests.
The mineral oil isn't so much the attractor, the light is what does it. I just happened to have it on hand all the time for jewelry making so I thought what the heck. If a flea jumps in it's too thick to jump out. Plus it would be coated and suffocate if it did make it out. You may or may not be satisfied with results so try a few things.
Fogging after using topical shouldn't be an issue as long as you and your dog give the residence sufficient time to air out after the fogging treatment. And vacuum, vacuum, vacuum....

SusanT68 (author)SusanT682016-05-14

Oh it is the Frontline spray that your fogging with right? Sorry I'm confused.

AudrianaL (author)YvonneD152016-05-05

Do you have a suggestion for outside spray? We tried the Diatomaceous Earth, and it's not working. We we live, we just had a bunch of rain, and I'm hoping it killed off a bunch. We're getting a privacy fence tomorrow, so I plan to coat that with cedar to repel fleas, etc. Just need a flea, and flea life cycle killer or else the cedar defeats the purpose. As soon as I can treat outside, the easier it'll be for me to treat the inside. I live in a 1600 sqft house, single story. No issue to spray carpets with lemon water, or Apple Cider Vinegar/Salt resolution. These dang things just need to die and go away.

YvonneD15 (author)AudrianaL2016-05-06

The sooner you treat inside the better. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to vacuum daily, and carefully discard the vacuum's contents in an outdoor garbage can. I don't have a large yard and mine is open to the forest so spraying outdoors is not something I have to deal with as Junior is indoor-only. My sister has 3 dogs and uses Frontline in 2 versions. She sprays the entries to her house with general sprayer and uses the concentrated version (attach garden hose) to spray over her lawns. I just purchased the diatomaceous earth to spinkle under my sofa (just in case). It will wash away, so outdoor use is something that has to be repeated. It is highly effective in the erradication process. Another relative uses it to protect her vegetable garden from pests...she has THE BEST and biggest tomatoes free from pesticides.

Hang in have to be as stubborn and persistent as the fleas if you want to get rid of them!

AudrianaL (author)YvonneD152016-05-01

Did your lemon juice bath work on your cat? I have 2 grown male cats that are medium length hair and a husky dog

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