Learn powerful up to date methods from the experts that will stop Fleas in their tracks and get rid of them for good.
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Fleas have the dubious distinction of being one of the only insects that do not have wings in any stage of their lives. Even though they can’t fly, their high jump is impressive; fleas can jump 8” in the air. That is 150x their own height! Fleas are often referred to as insects that fly with their legs. It is because of this supernatural leg strength that flea circuses were possible.
Hugely popular in the late 1800’s in Europe, fleas were attached to miniature carriages and chariots and ran and jumped around the arena pulling these tiny vehicles. The designers and makers of the chariots and buggies and carts were often jewelry or watchmakers. There is one remaining flea circus in the world; it is still performed at Oktoberfest in Munich Germany.
In reality, fleas are parasites who hitch a ride on their host. Although there are more than 2,000 species of fleas in the world, and about 200 present in the United States, the cat flea is the most common flea species we deal with. The cat flea infests our dogs and cats, racoons, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and mice. If you are reading this article you may have noticed that cat fleas will bite humans as well.
These blood sucking insects cause discomfort for our beloved pets and once established in your home can be difficult to get rid of. Fleas are only about 1/16” in length, and reddish to dark in color. They have no wings, but long strong legs. Their bodies are somewhat flat, which allows them to navigate through the hairs on their hosts’ bodies. Adult fleas have bristles on their face reminiscent of a Doc Holiday moustache. They also have a tuft of backward-facing bristles around their neck and down their bodies. These bristles act as Velcro to keep them attached to their host should their ride become bumpy.
Integrated Pest Management for Flea Control
We urge you to use, and we use ourselves, tenants of Integrated Pest Management, or IPM to solve all pest problems, including fleas. IPM urges homeowners and professional pest control technicians to combine multiple tools to solve the pest control problem. Pesticides are not off-limits, but IPM principles recognize the value of vacuuming and using steam to combat flea infestations. It is very common for home-owners and pet-owners to apply a lot of pesticide when dealing with fleas. When placed in sensitive locations such pet beds, carpeting, and rugs, and perhaps your couch and recliner, the overuse of these chemicals can cause skin irritation. Thinking the skin irritation is caused by more fleas, your spray more and more proliferating this vicious cycle. IPM teaches us to take a step back and evaluate any control measure we have utilized. Is there a more effective way to control this pest? Maybe the fleas are resistant to the chemical being used. Maybe vacuum or steam would be more effective, or maybe a particular infestation can be dealt with by treating the animal and using a flea comb.
Flea Diseases and Reasons for Control
The most pressing and obvious reason to get rid of fleas, is because we love our pets as family and never wish to see them suffer. Cat fleas do not prefer to feed on humans. However, if their population in your home gets so large, or the host becomes unavailable, they will and do bite humans. Some people and animals are allergic to flea bites, known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). Dogs and cats that are affected by FAD are prone to dramatic loss of hair and open sores. These sores may become infected and produce a strong odor, redness, and discomfort.
Fleas and The Plague
It is impossible to know for sure, but it is estimated that throughout history, The Plague or Black Death is responsible for between 75-200 million deaths around the world. This is a disease spread by fleas. Fleas carry the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis. During the Middle Ages, the Oriental Rat Flea is to blame for the spread of The Plague. When an infected flea bites a small mammal such as a rodent the disease is transferred to that mammal. The mammal succumbs to the disease, but the parasitic fleas are still hungry. If they are in close proximity to humans, the fleas jump on humans, bite them, and spread the dreaded disease. Cats are particularly susceptible to The Plague and can contract it by contact with a dead rodent infected with the bacteria.
The Plague is not widely feared anymore because antibiotics are an effective treatment, but it is still present in the ecosystem. Scientists believe that The Plague bacteria circulates at low rates within certain rodents without causing excessive deaths. These rodents, and their parasitic fleas serve as long-term reservoirs for the bacteria. Occasionally other species become infected posing a risk to humans. Some scientists predict the possibility of a Plague outbreak in densely populated urban areas with high rodent populations.
Other Diseases Transmitted by Fleas
Flea-Borne (Murine) Typhus – Transmitted when an infected flea bites a human or another animal. Fleas poop when they feed; therefore, their feces is rubbed into the open bite wound causing infection. Currently, Los Angeles, CA is battling an outbreak of flea-borne typhus.
Bartonellosis (Cat Scratch Disease) – A rare disease contracted directly by the bite of an infected flea, louse, or sandfly.
Flea Tapeworm – If a flea infected with a tapeworm is accidentally swallowed by your dog or cat while grooming, the tapeworm larvae will develop into an adult after the flea is digested. If your kitten or puppy has ever gotten “worms” this is probably it. Although rare, children have been known to get tapeworms by swallowing a flea while cuddling a family pet. Tapeworms in both people and pets are treatable with a medication that causes the tapeworm to dissolve within the intestines.
Tungiasis – The chigoe flea is a species of flea found mostly in South and Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. A gravid chigoe flea burrows into the bottom of feet, either human or animal feet. As she feeds, she leaves her abdomen outside of the host. Engorged after a blood meal, she lays eggs into the environment. Aside from the horror of this disease, it is often associated with serious infections on the feet.
Life Cycle of the Flea
Understanding the life cycle of fleas is very important when trying to control and eliminate a flea infestation. Fleas have a short life cycle, which unfortunately means they have developed resistance to many of our most common insecticides. Fleas also have a remarkable ability to “stall” development until a host is available. In favorable conditions, they reproduce rapidly and before you know it, you are in the midst of a full-blown infestation. If you are in the midst of a full-blown flea infestation, you must target each stage of the life cycle.
Fleas develop through complete metamorphosis. Adult fleas lay eggs which hatch in about 2-12 days. These eggs are only loosely attached to the fur, feathers, or hairs of the host on which they were laid. They readily drop off the host onto the ground, your pet’s bed, or your couch, increasing their range. When the eggs hatch, worm-like flea larvae emerge. They have no legs, but wriggle around and survive on flea feces left and other organic matter such as dead skin cells. In ideal conditions with plenty of available food, the larval stage lasts between 1-3 weeks, although it has been observed to last 200 days.
When the larval stage is complete, the flea spins a tiny cocoon and pupates. In ideal circumstances, for the fleas at least, the flea stays in his cocoon for about a month, before emerging as an adult. However, fleas can last for up to 5 months inside the cocoon. The cocoon is very sticky and protects the flea from insecticide and all manner of danger. Insecticides cannot penetrate the flea cocoon, which can prolong flea treatments and elimination. If a home is vacant for months at a time the adult flea will not emerge from the cocoon. Flea pupae wait until they detect vibration or movement, carbon dioxide, and heat, all signs of life and a potential host, until they emerge.
Once the adult flea emerges, she immediately begins the hunt for a blood meal. Fleas can not reproduce without partaking in a blood meal, however once she receives a blood meal she begins laying eggs within days. Fleas lay between 1-2 dozen eggs at a time and consume 15x their body weight in blood daily. Most of this blood is excreted in as partially digested feces which becomes food for the flea larvae.
Depending on circumstances, the life cycle of the flea may last from 2 weeks to 2 years. Relative humidity less than 50% and soil temperatures above 95℉ kills most flea larvae. Hot, wet summers favor egg laying and hot, dry periods give adult fleas maximum protection. Adult flea populations are likely to be at their peak in August or September. Late fall may also bring a spike of fleas as the animal hosts are on the move looking for a warm place to overwinter. With their unique abilities to wait until a host arrives, fleas can terrorize your family and pets at any time of year.
I Don’t Have Pets, Why Do I Have Fleas?
Adult fleas do not get their nutritional needs met by exclusively feeding on humans. They do not get all of the proteins necessary for reproduction from human blood. Of course, if they are starving, they will jump up and attack your ankles as you walk by, but they much prefer dogs, cats, rodents, or racoons. If you do not have a pet, but are experiencing a major flea infestation, it is time to think outside of the box.
Often, the answer lies in the flea pupae ability to survive months inside their cocoon. If you rent a home or apartment that has been vacant for a few months, the vibrations, heat, and CO2 you produce signals these pupae to emerge from their cocoon. When they emerge, they are desperate for a blood meal. If you don’t have a cat or a dog for them to latch onto, they will torment you mercilessly. Since fleas can not reproduce by feeding solely on humans, the problem will go away in a few weeks. However, the help of a licensed pest control company can help make those few weeks more bearable.
In instances where you have not recently moved into a new home or apartment, yet without a pet, fleas are infesting, there is likely an animal nearby. A professional pest control inspection will look for and determine the cause of this flea infestation. It may be that you have a family of mice in the cupboard. Perhaps a family of racoons is living in your attic. Have rats invaded the attic? Think upward and downward. Fleas can easily get through small gaps in flooring or drywall. Do you have a crawlspace? Bats, squirrels, cats, and opossums may be the reason for the fleas. Often flea treatments need to be combined with nuisance wildlife removal services or rodent services. If you do have unwanted visitors, you must remove the nuisance wildlife before you can get rid of the fleas.
Often, the first and most effective line of attack against a flea infestation is treating the pet with flea medications from a veterinarian. When they are treated with a flea medicine obtained by your veterinarian, this will eliminate most minor to moderate infestations without the need for insecticide sprays. Any flea that jumps on a medicated pet, will ultimately die. If you do not have a pet, flea elimination will be more difficult, but not impossible. If there is a rat or raccoon in your attic, hire a Nuisance Wildlife Trapper or Pest Control Company to remove the animal that is acting as the flea host. If you don’t have pet bedding as a starting point, any carpeting, rugs, or upholstered furniture is a logical starting place. Flea larvae bury themselves deep into crevices in warm, moist places. If nuisance critters were in your attic, you may consider treating your attic to put down the flea hotspot. Even without a pet, you can still get fleas, the good news is you can absolutely get rid of them too!
Signs of a Flea Infestation
There are many signs of a flea infestation, the most common being itching, scratching, and the sensation of being bitten. The common cat flea does bite people and pets alike. Their bites usually manifest as small red bumps with a white “halo” around the center. They are often in a straight line or clustered in a group of 3 or 4 bites. Everyone reacts to bites different, some people may have no physical reaction while other people and pets are allergic to flea bites and/or flea saliva. If an allergy is present, the physical reactions to the bites are much more irritating and pronounced.
If you have a dog or a cat and you notice them frequently scratching or shaking their head, you should inspect them for fleas. Every pet owner should have a flea comb, a fine-toothed comb that efficiently removes both adult fleas and flea eggs from your pet’s coat. Using your flea comb slowly comb your pet. Common flea hiding spots include the base of the neck, the groin area, around the leg folds, and the base of their tail. After each stroke with the flea comb carefully inspect the comb for any life fleas. If you find any, place them in a bowl of soapy water. On your flea comb, you may also see specks of what appear to be dirt or a substance that resembles coarsely ground pepper. This may indeed be dirt, but it may be flea fecal matter. If you are not sure if you have dirt or flea poo, put in a glass of water. If it dissolves into a reddish color, it is flea excrement.
Although small, fleas are visible with the naked eye. If live fleas are found on your pet, closer inspection of your home is warranted. If you have a pet, the most obvious place to begin your inspection is in their bedding and the surrounding area. Carefully examine the crate or pet bed including creases and crevices for live fleas and evidence of flea dirt. If your pet gets on your couches or your bed, carefully inspect these items for evidence of fleas. Fleas easily hide and often lay eggs in carpeting and area rugs. If you have wall to wall carpeting, it can be difficult to narrow down areas of flea infestation in the carpet. Fleas are small and depending on the carpet color can be impossible to see. However, when fleas are stimulated by vibration and heat, they are likely to jump. Put on a pair of white socks and shuffle around on the carpeting. Inspect your socks; if the fleas are present in the carpet, they will attach themselves to your socks hoping for a blood meal.
If your pet has fleas, he likely picked them up in your yard. Again wearing high white socks and sneakers, approach your pets favorite resting places in the yard. This may be under trees, around bushes, around patios and decks, and some dogs prefer to lay in the cool dirt. Go to these areas create heat and vibration by shuffling your feet on the ground. Moist shady spots are ideal for flea propagation. If your dog has a favorite resting spot under the deck, it likely is a flea breading ground. If you yard is severely infested, you will find fleas have jumped onto your white socks. Thoroughly check all areas of your yard to determine the breadth of the flea infestation.
Once you have determined the severity of the flea infestation, you can formulate a treatment and flea elimination process. Catching a flea infestation early is key solving the flea problem. The more engrained fleas and their eggs and pupae become in your home, the more difficult the problem is to control. Many flea problems can be resolved by simply asking the veterinarian for a refill on your pet’s flea medication. However, some flea infestations require a multiprong approach of treating your pet, your home, and your yard.
Treating your Pet for Fleas
The first and often the most impactful treatment is directly treating your pet for fleas. This begins with a conversation with your pet’s veterinarian. Most over the counter flea treatments available over the counter are ineffective. Veterinarians can provide you with a prescription for either a topical or oral medication. These products should be applied regularly as recommended by your veterinarian. If you have used a particular flea treatment on your pet for years with great results, but now it seems to be ineffective, talk to your veterinarian. Fleas can become resistant to the active ingredient in that product. Often, switching to another product with a different active ingredient gets the fleas off your pet and out of your home.
When treating your pet for fleas, always start with a clean pet. A bath with a medicated shampoo will kill some adult fleas on contact, but these flea shampoos do contain pesticides. Many of these shampoos have animal and age restrictions; you must follow the label. We recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding whether a flea shampoo should be used on your pet. As stated earlier, it is easy to over apply insecticides when you are being overrun with fleas. When overusing flea sprays, dips, shampoos, and drops dogs and cats can become overexposed to chemicals. When a pet is overdosed on flea insecticides the brain and other organs may shut down or your pet may experience kidney or liver damage. In addition, if overapplied, these chemicals lose their effectiveness over time.
Keeping up with the preventative flea medication recommended by your veterinarian is by far the most effective offensive weapon against fleas. Although some of these products can be quite expensive, it is never worth it to stretch the time between applications or only treat in the summer. When a flea treatment is first administered to your pet, you may notice an increase in flea activity. This is actually a good sign; fleas rise to the top of your pet’s coat when they begin to die.
As pest professionals, we recognize how vitally important a flea treated dog or cat is to a successful outcome. However, we defer to veterinarians for the best and most appropriate treatment for your cherished pet. A pet that has a quality flea medicine on his or her body can effectively dismantle a minor flea infestation. As discussed above, fleas prefer to be on our cats and dogs. Once they find their preferred host (your pet), the veterinarian prescribed treatment will do its job. Your pet essentially becomes a roving flea exterminator ensuring fleas from the couch cushions, carpets, and rugs are eliminated.
Topical Flea Treatments for Pets
Flea drops, or spot on products are popular because they are convenient to use and easy to apply. Popular examples of these products are Frontline Plus, K9 Advantix II, and Activyl. Most drops are placed directly onto the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades and are effective for 4-6 weeks. These products are specific to your pet’s species and size. You must squeeze the entire contents of the pouch onto your dog or cat’s skin. The medication is distributed over your pet’s skin and hair. Newer formulations kill adult fleas on contact and do not require the flea to bite your pet. Many of these new products begin killing fleas within hours of the application. Older products require the medication to be absorbed by your pet and kills the flea when they drink your pet’s blood.
When you regularly apply a topical flea treatment to your pet, you are ensuring that every flea that finds its way into your home will ultimately die. However, if you begin to notice that despite regular topical applications, fleas are continuing to plague your pet, you may be dealing with flea resistance to the active ingredient.
Active Ingredients used in flea medications include the following:
Fipronil – Frontline Plus combines fipronil and an Insect Growth Regulator to kill fleas. Fipronil works by disrupting the central nervous system of insects and is proven to be highly effective against fleas.
Imidacloprid – K9 Advantix II combines imidacloprid with an Insect Growth Regulator and permethrin. Imidacloprid affects the insects’ central nervous system. It only binds to nerve receptors on insects, making it safe for people and pets.
Indoxacarb – Activyl utilizes indoxacarb as the active ingredient against fleas. Indoxacarb kills fleas by reacting with an enzyme that is inside of the flea. This reaction causes the flea to become paralyzed and thus unable to feed and ultimately die.
Permethrin – Many flea products contain permethrin. While it is considered safe and effective for dogs, permethrin products should never be placed on cats. This active ingredient has been around the longest and many fleas have acquired resistance to it.
Methoprene and Pyriproxyfen – Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) such as methoprene and pyriproxyfen are a sound addition to flea control efforts. They have been added to many of the spot on treatments and work to ensure lasting control. IGRs do not offer an immediate kill, rather they render the fleas incapable of reproducing. IGRs only effect the egg and larval stage, they have no effect on flea pupae or adults.
For some pets with sensitive skin, topical, or spot-on flea treatments, cause irritation or skin rashes. If your pet’s skin can not handle these topical flea treatments, thankfully there are other options.
Oral Flea Medications
Some oral flea medications are given monthly and provide protection from fleas for 30 days. Another product boasts 12 weeks of protection against fleas. There is an oral medication that is aimed at “emergency” use. If your pet had a backyard adventure that left him itching from fleas, it can be given once a day and provide immediate death to the fleas. The goal with this medication is to kill them before they lay eggs. Some of these products claim to be effective at killing both fleas and ticks, but not all of them. The most common active ingredients in oral medications are afoxolaner, fluralaner, nitenpyram, and spinosad. It is of utmost importance that you discuss any oral flea medication with your veterinarian prior to use.
Oral flea medications are the exception rather than the norm for flea control on your pet. These medications are given by mouth and distributed throughout your pet’s bloodstream. They require the flea to bite your pet in order to obtain a dose of the active ingredient. These oral flea medications are newer than topical spot treatments. While there seems to be less resistance by the fleas and an added bonus of providing effective tick control as well, there is a chance of side effects for your pet. Always seek the advice of your trusted veterinarian.
There are a range of different flea collars available, from very inexpensive to collars that cost around $55.00 each. The least expensive flea collars should be avoided. They do not offer the best flea protection available. They often contain only permethrin which fleas are highly resistant to and presents a danger for cats.
However, flea collars have improved greatly in recent years, but they are not usually recommended as the first line of defense against fleas. Flea collars are impregnated with pesticide that is slowly released and distributed over the animal’s fur. The Seresto flea collar claims to protect your pet for 8 months. The Seresto collar claims that it kills and repels both fleas and ticks on contact, with no biting of your pet required.
As with all pet flea treatments, flea collars are not appropriate for all pets or households. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet if senior, pregnant or nursing, or a very young puppy before directly treating your pet with anything containing pesticide.
Treating your Home for Fleas
Once your pet is treated for fleas with an effective product, you should begin to see a reduction in itching, scratching, and irritation. However, you must break the flea life cycle. If the fleas have persisted in your home for a while, you likely have fleas at various stages of the flea life cycle, eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult. The key to getting fleas out of your home, breaking the life cycle.
Treating your home for fleas requires both mechanical control, such as vacuuming or steam cleaning, and insecticide application. When choosing an insecticide, make sure that you follow the label instructions. Read the label carefully as to the locations and manner in which it can be applied. In addition to a product that kills the fleas, we recommend treating your flea infestation with an Insect Growth Regulator or IGR. An IGR will not kill adult fleas by itself, but they provide long lasting control by preventing immature fleas from developing into adults. Many quality products marketed for fleas contain both an active ingredient that kills the adults and an IGR.
Because of the unique ability of flea pupae to remain in their cocoon for months, one flea treatment will not eliminate the flea infestation. You should plan on a second flea treatment 14 days after the initial treatment. Between treatments vacuum every other day.
Getting Fleas Out of Pet Bedding
If you have a pet, his bedding will be the epicenter of flea activity. By washing and drying his bedding and blankets on high heat you will kill any eggs, larvae, and pupae that are buried within the crevices. If your pet sleeps on a couch or a chair these areas will need to be aggressively cleaned. This is the time to pull out your vacuum attachments and get to work. Vacuum deep into the cracks and crevices of the furniture and upholstery. Flea larvae (worm-like stage) and flea pupae (cocoon) can be very difficult to pull up with a vacuum. However, if you can reach them with steam, they will die. Thoroughly steam with targeted attachments upholstered areas where your pet rests or sleeps. Steam will break down the insecticides you use, so steam clean or vacuum before you apply insecticide treatments to these pet sleeping areas. Your vacuum will be an integral tool during your flea elimination process, but you do not want it to become a flea breeding ground. Make sure you remove and discard the vacuum bag outside every time you vacuum for fleas.
Once you have thoroughly washed and dried, vacuumed, or steamed pet bedding it is time apply insecticide to these areas and kill those fleas! There are many different formulations you can choose from. Insecticides labeled for fleas come in all formulations, from concentrate, aerosol, and dusts and powders. For the homeowner, aerosol sprays are the easiest as you don’t have to measure and mix anything. Always ensure that the areas you are treating are permitted by the product’s label. Some products have an IGR included. If the product you are using for killing adult fleas does not include an IGR, apply the IGR separately. Do not skip the IGR component for flea control.
If your pet sleeps on a washable pet bed, that may be washed as often as you like. Wait 14 days between pesticide applications on pet resting areas such as upholstered furniture, however you may vacuum every other day.
Getting Fleas Out of Carpets and Rugs
The more carpet and area rugs you have in your home, the more difficult and time-consuming flea extermination will be. Any small bathroom or kitchen rugs that are machine washable should be washed and dried on high heat. Wall to wall carpet and large area rugs present a unique challenge. The flea larvae coil themselves around the base of carpet fiber. Flea pupae are encased in their protective cocoon. This cocoon has a sticky exterior and adheres quite strongly to carpet and rugs. Depending upon the length of your carpet and the strength of your beater brush, you may or may not be able to access them and draw them out with a vacuum. Flea pupae are stimulated to emerge by signs that a host may be nearby including, vibration, heat, and carbon dioxide. If you avoid the carpet or area rugs the pupae will wait it out. By vacuuming carpet and rugs every other day, the vibrations and heat will encourage adult fleas to emerge from the cocoon. Once they are outside of the protective cocoon, they will contact the insecticides and die.
If you have steam cleaning machine, determine if it is safe on your carpet and rugs. If it is safe, by penetrating heat deep into the fibers of the carpet you may be able to kill not only adult fleas but flea larvae and the notoriously impenetrable flea pupae. You should utilize the power of steam before you apply pesticides so that they retain their effectiveness.
Just as you sprayed your pet’s sleeping areas with an adulticide and IGR, apply the product to carpets and area rugs. There are a wide variety of floor finishes and carpeting materials. You should always test your spray in an inconspicuous area before applying to a broad area. Always cover aquariums and fish tanks and turn off their pumps before treating the area. If you have birds, remove them before spraying for fleas. Vacate area to be treated and stay off the treated furniture and carpeting until it is completely dry.
Once this initial treatment is dry, some people find it effective to treat the carpets and rugs with a silica or dust. A silica dust such as Cimexa is a desiccant that clings to the bodies of insects such as fleas and bedbugs. This dust absorbs the waxy coating on their exoskeleton and causes death to the insect by dehydration. This dust may be applied to the floor, behind moldings and baseboards, pet kennels, and pet resting areas. To get it deep into the carpet, use a broom to sweep it in.
Vacuum the carpets and rugs every other day and treat again with the insecticides in 14 days. Regular vacuuming entices the fleas to emerge from their cocoon. No amount of insecticide will kill the fleas when they are safely encased in the cocoon. Treating your home and carpets for fleas is a process that involves repetition in order affect each life cycle of the flea.
Flea Bomb and Foggers
With a name like flea bomb, it has to kill fleas, right? Unfortunately, no. Flea bombs, also known as flea foggers or total release foggers were once a popular do it yourself flea treatment, but there are much better options now. Flea bombs work when you place them in a room and press the button on the aerosol can. A pesticide infused fog or mist is released into the air and covers surfaces as it falls to the ground. However, the pesticide does not penetrate deep into the carpet or pet bedding fibers where the fleas, eggs, and larvae actually hide. It covers surfaces with pesticide, like your end table or coffee table, despite the fact that fleas are most likely not there. A flea bomb or fogger applies pesticide where it is not needed, and does not reach the areas where the fleas actually are. Flea foggers can contaminate food preparing surfaces. Flea bombs are ineffective against flea larvae and pupae and do not address outdoor flea harborages. In addition, most flea bombs contain pyrethroid insecticides which are ineffective on fleas due to extreme resistance. So, even if they did reach the fleas, it unlikely that it would kill them. Although it sounds like a simple, do it yourself flea annihilation, flea bombs are ineffective and an unnecessary exposure to pesticides.
Treating your Yard for Fleas
As a part of flea control measures you may find it necessary to treat your yard for fleas. Often the pet medication eliminates the fleas from your yard, but you should not expect to control a flea population by only treating the outside. In fact, outdoor flea treatments offer only a temporary knockdown of the outdoor flea population, and without other measures will never completely prevent fleas from infesting your pet. If you have a large number of feral or wild animals passing through your yard, new fleas will constantly be infesting the area.
Outdoor flea treatments help greatly to reduce the flea population. Fleas tend to breed most prolifically in moist shady spots, therefore treating the sunny well-manicured center of your lawn is unlikely to kill many fleas. Look for cool moist areas where your pet tends to rest. Also consider areas where wild animals such as raccoons or opossums may traverse or even nest in your yard. Treating the nesting areas of any animal, either your pet or wild or stray animals, will have the greatest impact in flea reduction. Animals often lay or nest in protected areas such as under a porch, under shrubs or bushes, under the crawl space, or in the garage or shed.
Once you have determined that your yard that should be treated for fleas, you must prepare the area. Flea larvae and pupae are developing in the ground, not on the leaf litter atop the soil. Remove yard debris so that the insecticide can contact the fleas. Yard insecticides labeled for flea treatments come in both liquid concentrate and granular formulations. Although easier to apply, granular treatments are considered less effective for fleas. If you choose a liquid concentrate, follow the label instructions for mixing and apply with either a hand-held pump-up sprayer or a backpack sprayer. A liquid Insect Growth Regulator can easily to be added to a liquid flea treatment. This IGR disrupts reproduction and maturation of immature fleas. This disruption to the life cycle offered by an IGR offers longer lasting control but it takes a few weeks to see its effects.
As with any flea treatment, outdoor flea treatments do not work overnight. Because you are battling nature, you must repeat the treatment to attack the now adult fleas. A second treatment fourteen days after the initial treatment is ideal. If wild animals frequent your yard and constantly reinfest these areas, you may need to regularly treat certain areas, especially during peak flea season. Raccoons and opossums can be dealt with as nuisance wildlife, or you may consider adding fencing or other barriers to prevent their entry onto areas of your property.
Natural Flea Treatments
Fleas have been part of the human condition for centuries, and along the way we have developed theories for natural flea treatments. The truth is, if these natural flea treatments were effective, the Black Death, which killed millions of people in the 1300s, would not have happened. There is no evidence that eucalyptus, rosemary, citronella, cedar chips, or peppermint oil repels or kills fleas. You will not get control of a flea infestation by placing a bowl of soapy water near your pet’s bed and dousing your dog or cat in orange or lemon oil may be harmful to your pet. Please talk to your veterinarian before feeding your dog or cat garlic or apple cider vinegar. Raw Baltic amber has even been touted as a natural flea repellent. We have seen no studies as to efficacy of any of these natural flea treatments. None of these flea home remedies address the root cause of infestation, fleas reproduce quicker than you can individually kill them.
However, fleas can be combated with some very simple and natural housework. By regularly laundering your pets sleeping area and vacuuming the floors, you can prevent a flea or two from turning into a full-blown infestation. Flea larvae feeds primarily on the feces of adult fleas. If you can vacuum up all the food/feces, the larvae may effectively starve. Even if you do not own a steam cleaner, consider renting one twice a year. Steam all the carpets and upholstery including the folds and crevices of couches and chairs. By regularly bathing your pet and combing him with a flea comb, you will notice a flea occurrence early. If caught early, many flea problems can be taken care of with physical controls such as vacuuming and laundering with minimal chemicals.
Professional Flea Treatment
Here at Nextgen Solutions, we are committed to helping you solve your flea problem even if it means we do not “make the sale.” Often the first thing we will discuss is your pet; we will unashamedly refer you to your veterinarian for an effective flea treatment for your pet. The most effective flea treatments today are dispensed by veterinarians, not pest control professionals. The physical controls, such as vacuuming, steaming, and laundry, should be done regularly and thoroughly by the homeowner. This is not to say that pest management professionals do not have a proper place in flea treatments, we do, but the most effective way to solve the flea problem is to treat your pet. Biologically, fleas prefer to bite fur bearing mammals rather than humans. If your pet is properly treated the fleas will find him and die. Many of the newest spot-on flea treatments do not even require that your pet is bitten. By contacting the small amount of active ingredient that is on his skin, the fleas will die.
There are of course situations in which you are still battling a flea infestation despite treating your pet and vacuuming regularly. Stranger still, there are flea infestations where you do not even own a pet! Pest Management Professionals are a breed of detectives. We know where fleas hide and how fleas behave. We know that seasons, temperature, and humidity contribute to infestations. We have experience in hunting down the root cause of flea infestations and creatively solving the problem. Fleas have a short life cycle and are becoming resistant to many common classes of chemicals that have been used to treat them. Pyrethroid resistance has been documented in fleas.
If you are battling pyrethroid resistant fleas your Nextgen Pest Solutions has the tools and the knowledge to select appropriate and effective chemicals to kill fleas both indoors and outdoors. We are a Veteran-Owned pest control company with branches in Florida and Georgia and we would be honored to help you solve your flea problem.