What are Sand Fleas?

Sand fleas are usually found along beaches and coastal regions. However, they’re also found in deserts. Learn more about sand fleas and how to avoid them.

sand fleas


Most people don't realize that sand fleas aren't actually insects. They're tiny crustaceans, but too little to boil and serve with melted butter. The term sand flea is often used incorrectly to describe a wide variety of insects because their bites and the aftereffects are similar to that of many other biting and stinging pests such as fleas, biting gnats and midges. They leave an itchy, red welt that can be quite annoying.

Sand fleas are commonly found in beaches along coastal areas and in marshes, but can also be found in desert areas. The good news is that they usually don't come home with you after visiting one of these areas. They prefer their seaside habitat. The bad news is that the female can sometimes burrow under your skin and lay her eggs.

Useful tips to avoid sand fleas

  • Sand fleas prefer to feed in the early morning and late afternoon, but those times can be stretched on cooler days. Stay away from the beach during those times.
  • Don't lay your towel or blanket directly on the sand. Use folding lounge chairs instead.
  • Wear closed shoes and socks while you walk around the beach. They can't jump very high, and they don't generally bite through clothes.
  • Wear a bug repellent. Products containing DEET are usually the most effective.
  • They like to eat seaweed, so if you see a lot of the ocean plant washing up near you, you should move.
  • Of course, the best option is to simply stay off the beach and out of the desert.

If you get bitten by sand fleas

The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health states:

The best thing you can do is to avoid scratching and keep an eye on the bite marks. It's rare that the females will lay eggs under your skin, but it does happen. If you have a bite with a black center, consult your physician.

When you're not sure what's biting you

Since sand flea bites can often be confused with the bite of fleas and other pests, it may be best to call a pest management specialist to help you identify the cause of the problem.



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