When it comes to companionship, there is no doubt that in many cases, animals are superior to humans. They’re loyal, warm, and never judge; that’s why we love them so much. And while they can bring plenty of love and joy into our lives with their presence, oftentimes they also bring with them some unwanted house guests: fleas. When you have a flea infestation one of the questions you will be asking yourself is “how could something so small cause so much trouble?” In today’s article we will be taking a look at the various approaches one can take to dealing with a flea infestation at home. You can also read up on the best way to get rid of fleas to ensure you eliminate all fleas in your home and prevent them from coming back.
Low Impact Approaches
It’s always best to start off with low impact approaches first. Don’t let the terminology fool you; without performing these low impact approaches, the high impact approaches (i.e. pesticides) will be rendered much less effective. We will categorize these low impact approaches by their location, indoors, outdoors, and pet.
- Indoors – The two main steps are laundering and vacuuming. For laundering, focus on your pet’s bedding and use hot soapy water to kill fleas. If your infestation is more severe you may have to launder as much of your furniture and upholstery as possible. Tip: when handling your pet’s bedding for laundering, hold it flat and fold it up carefully so that flea eggs don’t fall from the bedding and land on your floor, carpet, or other furniture. Next is vacuuming, which is extremely effective at removing fleas at all stages of their lifecycle. Focus on your carpets as well as other areas that your pets like to hang out (the sofa for instance). Not only will the vacuuming physically remove many fleas, it will also raise the carpet fibers, making them more permeable to pesticides. Further, the pressure created by the vacuum can also cause adult fleas to immediately emerge from the pupal stage which is important as in the pupal stage, the flea is largely protected against insecticides by the waterproof cocoon.
- Outdoors – Fleas that live outdoors choose warm and moist areas without direct sunlight. Obviously they will also gravitate to areas that your pet frequents. You can reduce their habitat by trimming the lawn more frequently to expose more areas to direct sunlight. Tip: if you suspect you have outdoor fleas, where clothing that covers your lower legs when trimming the lawn to avoid fleas jumping on your ankles and biting you. To eliminate outdoor fleas in a low impact manner, we recommend either diatomaceous earth (a natural compound that kills fleas by cutting their exoskeleton and causing dehydration) or nematodes, which are microscopic worms that are parasitical to flea larvae. Both should be able to be found at your local garden supply store.
- Pet – To remove fleas from your pet, you will need a flea comb and a hot soapy bath. You can also elect to use insecticidal soaps or other flea sprays on your pet. It is highly important that you read all the labels carefully first as some products are only suitable for use on certain pets. For example, many dog flea treatments contain pyrethrin which is highly toxic to cats.
High Impact Approaches
After you have done the above, it’s time to bring out the big guns and kill the rest of those fleas like Chemical Ali. When using pesticides, be aware that they generally fall into two categories, insecticides and insect growth regulators. The former will kill adult fleas and larvae while the latter will prevent development into the adult stage. Because fleas in the pupal stage are generally protected from pesticides, you will need two applications, spaced a couple of weeks apart in order to get the newly emergent adult fleas in the second application. The first application will be a mixture of insecticides and insect growth regulators (while you can buy these separately as liquid formulations, in most cases such as in the case of aerosol sprays, these are already premixed) while the second can be purely an insecticide.
When using insecticides, it is important to be aware that you are subjecting yourself to a certain amount of risk, mainly the risk of accidental poisoning. The smaller your pet is or if you have small children in the house, the greater the risk. Make sure you check that the pesticides you used are approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and always follow the label instructions carefully and to the letter. If you sustain any damages due to improper use, you will have to bear the full liability.