I Have a Flea Problem!
Anyone who has ever dealt with a flea infestation knows that it can be a real pain. Fleas are also the cause of several well-known diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as cat-scratch fever, typhus, and plague.
Fleas need to find their host within seven days or they die. They will wait for their prey to walk by and can jump up to seven inches high to reach them—that is the equivalent of a human jumping 110 yards high!
We will explore three critical steps that can be taken to reduce an infestation. If an attempt to eradicate the infestation is done incorrectly, the fleas will continue to repopulate.
A 3-Step Approach to Eradicating Fleas
You will need to treat these three areas at the same time:
- Your beloved pets
- Your house (every room)
- Your yard
Treating your pets with monthly topical or oral flea preventatives is the best way to avoid an infestation.
Step 1: Bathe Your Pet
If you want to use as few chemicals as possible, wash your pet with shampoo. It doesn't have to be a special flea shampoo. My wife, for example, swears by baby shampoo.
Let's Talk About Controversial Flea Products
The opinions about flea products vary widely among people. Some consumers are for flea products, and some are against them. While the comb offers a natural, mechanical option for reducing adult fleas, collars and powder products contain potentially carcinogenic components. Determine whether or not you feel comfortable using the common products listed below:
- Flea Combs: A comb can help to remove 10-50% of the adults from an animal's fur.
- Flea Collars: Some say collars are poison on a rope. Even if you do not share this opinion, keep in mind that flea collars only work from the neck of the animal to the head. You still have to find a solution for the body (like the aforementioned comb).
- Flea Powder: Flea powder is effective, but it can also dry your pet's skin.
It is up to you to decide what you prefer to use here. If you are in doubt, ask your veterinarian. If you do go for a specific flea product, make sure you follow the instructions as stated on the box.
Step 2: Prepare and Clean Your House
Wash and Dry Fabric: One of the most popular places for fleas to hang out is in your carpet or rug. You will also find them in your pet's bedding. You need clean all locations where they like to hang out. Gather all of your pet's belongings (blankets, pillows, cushions, and plush toys), and put them in the washing machine. Do this every other day.
Vacuum: Vacuuming every other day will get rid of the majority of the adult fleas but not those in the egg stage.
Fleas need food in order to survive, so the trick is to break their food chain. If you are really thorough with the vacuuming and get in all of the corners, under and behind all of the furniture, and in your pet's favorite hangouts, you will remove any habitable environments.
Manage Heat and Humidity: Fleas need and prefer high heat and humidity to develop well (they do not like temperatures above 103 F degrees). Consider drying out the air (and eggs) with a dehumidifier. You can also section off a room on a hot day and add dry heat to achieve inhospitable conditions.
Dehydrate With Borax
Borax laundry detergent doesn't kill fleas directly, but it deprives them of moisture. As you learned earlier, moisture is essential for survival. This treatment will also help dehydrate the eggs.
Apply Borax as follows:
- Remove uncolonized belongings from the room you want to treat.
- Cover the remaining items.
- Make sure that your pets are out of the room (they can step on the Borax and lick it off of their paws).
- Throw some Borax on the floor and vacuum it. It may sound silly at first, but by doing this, you will have some Borax in the vacuum bag for the fleas you vacuum up.
- Vacuum your carpet. This way, you get the carpet fibers to stand up so that the Borax will penetrate the carpet.
- Sprinkle the Borax evenly and massage it deep into the carpet by walking over it or using a broom.
- Let the Borax work overnight, but not longer than 24 hours to prevent carpet fading! Keep the room shut.
- Vacuum the carpet thoroughly the next day.
- Repeat this technique in the next room.
Step 3: Treat Your Yard
You can try using diatomaceous earth or DE in your yard. Diatomaceous earth is 100% organic and kills household and garden pests like cockroaches, ants, slugs, fleas, beetles, and many other crawling insects within 48 hours of contact. You can apply it with an old flour sifter. Be aware that it washes away after a strong rain, so reapply after.
Rinse and Repeat
Fleas will likely reappear after your first cleaning session; don't be surprised, as most of the eggs and larvae may not have been eradicated the first time. Surely, you reduced some of the population already. Simply vacuum the spot where you discovered the new fleas and retreat your pet and any household areas. Continue doing this for a month or more if necessary.
The Life Cycle of the Flea
When you discover fleas in your house, you have to act fast. On average, you will have one week before the next generation emerges. Understanding the life cycle of the flea is key to successfully eliminating them and reducing your chances of exposure to disease.
There are four stages in the life cycle:
If you are able to stop or interrupt any part of the cycle, you will be successful in inhibiting the population. You need to prevent the fleas from developing into the next stage. After laying about 20 eggs, a single flea will reproduce and lay another 20 eggs. Development between each life stage takes two weeks. That means you will have 8,000 uninvited guests in your home within a month! After two months, you will be hosting a mind-boggling 3.2 million fleas.
© 2014 TheAndy
Josie on July 10, 2020:
I have 12 cats they come in and out
Pat Mele on October 28, 2019:
Shampoo your pet with Dawn dish detergent leave on for ten minutes and rinse them well. Dry and comb and should take care of the fleas.
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zeinab ali 25 on July 05, 2017:
Thank you for the excellent article and great information we have a fight against insects in Riyadh to eliminate all kinds of insects
topsite on October 11, 2016:
I will try the baby shampoo!