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Home flea control

We’ll start with Indoor Prevention.

The bottom line: Vacuuming and washing are the least toxic ways to control fleas.

When treating the indoor environment it is important to launder all bedding in hot, soapy water at least weekly if your dog spends time on your bed, and also wash your dog’s bedding in the same way at least once a week. Flea populations are highest in places where dogs regularly sleep.

Adding some essential oils or Bite This! to the water for extra flea-zapping power.

Sprinkle a little Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy onto dry bedding and work it in to help kill the little pests while your dog sleeps.

All of the carpeting, floors, rugs, upholstered furniture, crevices where lint and pet hairs accumulate around baseboards, and cabinets should be vacuumed daily or every other day to thoroughly remove flea eggs, larvae, adults, and food sources. Vacuum around ventilators, around heat registers, in floor cracks, under and in furniture where your dog sleeps and favorite places where he hangs out.

Before vacuuming, you’ll want to collect all items such as toys, clothing, and shoes off the floors, under beds, furniture, in closets, etc., to ensure easy access for treatment. Vacuuming can be very effective in picking up adults and stimulating pre-emerged adults to leave their cocoons. Flea larvae do not move far from the site of hatching when there is adequate food (dried blood feces from adults). Something you might like to do is to put some flea powder into the vacuum bag to kill fleas as you vacuum.

Keep in mind the larvae don’t like light, spend about 80% of the time deep in the carpet at the base of fibers, and frequently become entwined within the carpet. At pupation, the larva moves up the carpet fiber spinning a camouflaging cocoon around itself.

After vacuuming, place the vacuum bag in a large plastic garbage bag, secure the bag, and discard in an outdoor trash container.

The vacuum bag must be thrown away because flea eggs can survive and develop inside vacuum bags and adults may be able to escape to the outside. Immediately destroy bags by burning or by sealing them in a plastic trash bag so they don’t escape. Then discard them in a covered trash container.

Steam cleaning the carpet can kill some of the larvae as well. It’s important to keep in mind though, that vacuuming and shampooing a carpet will still leave a good percentage of live fleas so some sort of chemical treatment may be necessary.

Now you’ll need to treat the entire house.

A professional exterminator may be called to treat your house or you may use a house fogger or a long-lasting spray. These foggers and sprays are very effective for adult fleas, but they will not kill adults that are still in their cocoon. Purchase a fogger or a spray that kills the adult fleas and inhibits development of the eggs and larvae.

Several choices are available including sprays and foggers. The most effective products are those which contain both an ingredient to kill adult fleas and an ingredient to kill the other life cycle stages. The latter is called an insect growth regulator. Methoprene is one such growth regulator. Aerosol foggers may not penetrate well enough, in most cases, to kill all the hiding fleas and larvae. Another option for indoor control is a sodium borate product that is applied to carpeting.

In climates with extended warm temperatures and high humidity, it may be necessary to treat two or three times with a 30-day residual product before all stages of the fleas are removed from the house. The second treatment is most effective if it is done two weeks after the first.

If you’re going to do it yourself, pet stores, supermarkets, and hardware stores sell foggers specifically for fleas, but any fogger that mentions fleas on the label will do the job. Make sure to always follow exactly any label instructions for amount to use, methods and directions for application.

You will need to remove pets and their dishes from the house, cover aquariums and disconnect their aerators, close all windows and leave the house for several hours after setting off the foggers. Upon returning, all windows should be opened to air out the house.

Thoroughly clean items brought into the home, such as used carpets or upholstered furniture to prevent these from being a source of flea infestation.

Several insecticides are registered for controlling fleas indoors. Sprays are usually needed only when you detect an infestation in your home. The most effective products contain one of the insect growth regulators: methoprene or pyriproxyfen. These insecticides specifically target the larvae and have a long residual life. As soon as the spray dries, vacuum to remove additional fleas that emerge from the pupal stage in carpets and upholstery. Fleas will continue to emerge for about 2 weeks after treatment because pupae are not killed by sprays. Continue to vacuum and do not treat again for at least several weeks.

Because fleas are known to build up resistance to insecticides, always supplement any sprays you use with other methods of control such as thorough and frequent vacuuming. Spray carpets, pet sleeping areas, carpeted areas beneath furniture, baseboards, window sills, and other areas harboring adults or larvae.

Use a hand sprayer or aerosol to apply insecticides directly to infested areas of carpets and furniture. Total release aerosols “room foggers” don’t provide the coverage and long-term effectiveness of direct sprays unless they contain an insect growth regulator. Treatments with insecticides other than IGR’s often fail to control flea larvae because the treatment material fails to contact them at the base of carpet fibers where they develop.

Some infestations, however, are just too much to be controlled by vacuuming alone, and not everyone has the time to clean all the floors daily. That’s when you might want to use one or more of the natural “powders” available for ridding your home of fleas. The least toxic substances available for this are diatomaceous earth and boric acid products.

These can be used on carpeting, on the pet’s bedding, on furniture and on hard floors. It is a very fine powder similar in consistency to talcum powder, so it gets into cracks and crevices on hardwood and
linoleum floors easily. It acts more quickly than boric acid products – a difference in the flea population can be noticeable in 24 – 48 hours.

Diatomaceous earth, however, does not last as long as the boric acid products. Monthly applications are recommended in areas with heavy flea populations, especially during the height of flea season.
Diatomaceous Earth is a non-toxic flea treatment. It is made from the crushed exoskeletons of diatoms, tiny creatures that live in the ocean (whales eat them). You can usually purchase it at pet stores, and possibly also from Pool supply stores where it is used in filters. Sprinkle it on the carpets, and then vacuum it up later. The tiny bits get in the breathing pores of the bugs and suffocate them.

Boric acid products, such as Flea Busters and Fleago, work in a similar fashion to the diatomaceous earth by dehydrating the fleas. When applied correctly, they offer protection for up to a year or more as they remain deep in the carpet fibers. Flea Busters will treat your carpet with a flea-killing powder. The powder is non-toxic to people and is worked deeply into the carpet to prevent it from being removed by vacuuming. This treatment has proven very successful, even with very heavy flea infestations.
Flea Busters may also be used on hard floors as the powder is fine enough to reach into cracks and crevices well. Both products may be used on furniture. All visible powder must be worked into the carpet, floor or furniture well with a broom or rake, and any remaining visible powder should be vacuumed up. Boric acid kills flea larvae, but is not as effective at killing the adults, so you may not see the results for two to six weeks while the adult population dies off. During the initial weeks after application, it is helpful to vacuum frequently to kill the adult fleas. Boric acid products are more toxic than diatomaceous earth products as well, so you do not want to use them directly on dogs or cats.

20 Mule Team Borax sprinkled in the carpet and under the furniture cushions, leave a few days and then vacuum. The borax extracts all of the moisture and they die – eggs as well.
With all of the flea powder products, common sense caution must be used. Follow package directions carefully. They are drying agents, and therefore irritate nasal passages and lungs if inhaled directly. Avoid overzealous shaking of the container while spreading it onto the floor so you don’t create clouds of dust.

A professional exterminator may be called to treat your house or you may use a house fogger or a long-lasting spray. These foggers and sprays are very effective for adult fleas, but they will not kill adults that are still in their cocoon. You should purchase a fogger or a spray that kills the adult fleas and inhibits development of the eggs and larvae.

Additional Non-chemical treatments include:

Flea Traps is a safe and simple permanent appliance that uses heat and light to draw fleas from up to 25 feet away. Fleas attracted to the trap fall through the grid and meet a sticky demise on the replaceable capture pad. Adult fleas are killed by the thousands on the replaceable capture pad. Works year round without poisons, expensive pills, or visits to the vet. Capture pads last for 3 months or until filled with up to 10,000 fleas.

Other flea traps are electric and work by emitting gentle heat which attracts fleas and traps them on sticky paper.

More on flea control

Flea Control – getting rid of dog fleas

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