How To Get Rid of Flea on Dogs on Cats and in the House — How To Get Rid of Flea Online
How to deal with earthen fleas in a private house?
- 1 How to deal with earthen fleas in a private house?
- 2 How To Get Rid of Flea on Dogs on Cats and in the House
- 3 Fighting flea bites on baby
- 4 Does Salt Kill Fleas? Yes, You Can Kill fleas with Salt, Learn How It Can?
- 5 Seresto flea collar does not work? any alternative?
- 6 How to Kill Fleas in a Car and Vehicles?
- 7 My Wife Used To Kill Cat Fleas Like That
- 8 Are Cat Fleas Worse Than Dog Fleas? The Actual Difference
- 9 Can Perfume Kill Fleas?
- 10 A Tenant Asks: What Are My Rights When My Property Is Infested With Pests?
- 11 Who is responsible for pest infestations ?
- 12 Disclaimer
- 13 BugBitten
- 14 How to Clean a House of Fleas and Kill the Eggs
- 15 About the Author:
- 16 Die Fleas! Die! Die! Die! Freaky Cheap Flea Control
- 17 flea control in a nutshell
- 18 flea control details
- 19 Don’t Panic!
- 20 know your enemy
- 21 flea control with diatomaceous earth
- 22 flea control by vacuuming
- 23 flea control with light traps (aka «flea traps»)
- 24 flea control with a dehumidifier
- 25 flea control with heat
- 26 flea control by shampooing (or steam cleaning) your carpet
- 27 flea control by less carpet
- 28 flea control by washing your clothes/bedding
- 29 flea control for your critters
- 30 DO NOT USE POISON!
- 31 DO NOT USE Borate Powder
- 32 DO NOT USE Pyrethrins/Pyrethrum
- 33 DO NOT USE flea bombs
- 34 DO NOT USE flea collars
- 35 flea control summary
- 36 other articles about flea control
- 37 Comments? Questions? Rude gestures? Discuss this article in the flea control thread.
- 38 hand made emails from the permies.com community
- 39 Solar Dehydrator Plans — Combo Package
- 40 2017 Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course
- 41 Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heater Videos
- 42 World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set
- 43 Permaculture Playing Cards
- 44 Free Rocket Mass Heater Design Plans
- 45 Wood Burning Stoves 2.0 4-DVD Set
- 46 Double Chamber Cob Oven Plans
- 47 Rocket Mass Heater Goodies (plans/ebooks) Combo
- 48 All Da Moichendize
How To Get Rid of Flea on Dogs on Cats and in the House
Fighting flea bites on baby
Flea bites on baby are a problem that many people tend to ignore, either because of embarrassment or because they think they are not a severe condition. But these small insects carry many diseases.
Does Salt Kill Fleas? Yes, You Can Kill fleas with Salt, Learn How It Can?
How to get rid of fleas with salt as a natural, safe, effective method and substance you can use to control fleas and is available in every home, If you face fleas nightmare, spraying.
September 9, 2018
Seresto flea collar does not work? any alternative?
I removed a seresto flea collar from my dog since it wasnt working. Can I apply frontine drip or do I need to wait a few days? You will save money in the long.
September 2, 2018
How to Kill Fleas in a Car and Vehicles?
Common Pest Control solutions for fleas inside cars and vehicles Fleas get in your car from bringing your pet into your car with you which lead to a car infestation. Other Flea sources in the vehicle include: Parking.
My Wife Used To Kill Cat Fleas Like That
Get rid of cat fleas in cats and kittens on my way Talk to you about a very scary ghost and a big problem for all cat owners, that is (fleas remain in cats) We.
Are Cat Fleas Worse Than Dog Fleas? The Actual Difference
Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are a different species than dog fleas(Ctenocephalides canis). However, their differences are best distinguished through the use of a microscope. If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of a flea problem, it is likely that they are.
Can Perfume Kill Fleas?
Can Perfume kill fleas?
do perfumes repel fleas?
Scents that repel fleas?
what scent do fleas hate?
A Tenant Asks: What Are My Rights When My Property Is Infested With Pests?
We received a couple of questions in the last few days about infestations of various kinds of vermin in a rented property. Kenny James asked: “My girlfriend and I signed a 12 month contract last week to rent a 1 bed flat in north London. Upon moving in we noticed the place stinks. The landlord […]
We received a couple of questions in the last few days about infestations of various kinds of vermin in a rented property.
Kenny James asked:
“My girlfriend and I signed a 12 month contract last week to rent a 1 bed flat in north London. Upon moving in we noticed the place stinks. The landlord revealed there is a dead rat in the wall and offered to refund us a week’s rent.
Here we are a week later and she has put bowls of coffee on the floor to remedy the smell. She insists this has done the job and there is nothing to worry about.”
Peter Stansfield asked:
“I currently live in a flat with my wife and 2 year old, we’ve been here for 2 years and are in the process of moving out as we’re emigrating.
After the first week, we realised there was a problem with Silverfish (finding 10 a day). When I contacted the landlord she emailed me back with the following “I really don’t understand why silverfish have suddenly appeared – in 6 yrs no one has ever seen them.”
However, I recently got in touch with the previous tenants and they have advised that they also advised the landlord of the silverfish problem and that they contacted the tenants before them who confirmed they suffered from a silverfish problem in the flat.”
Who is responsible for pest infestations ?
Before you do anything else, you must first look for information in the tenancy agreement. It’s not often that tenancy agreements include pest infestations, but more thorough ones will and there you will find the exact steps on how to proceed further.
If yours doesn’t treat the problem like a health hazard, which it is, and look for clues about that one in the tenancy agreement.
Unlike most problems in rented properties, pests are difficult to attribute to either the landlord or the tenant outright. There are thousands of reasons why your property might be infested, ranging from disrepair to lifestyle to an external cause. To find out who is responsible, you need to find out how the pests got into the property and why.
When is the landlord responsible ?
The landlord is required by law to repair and maintain the property and remove all hazards. This is their legal duty and you pay for that service with your rent.
Thus, when rats or other pests are getting in the property due to any disrepair, it’s automatically the landlord’s job to repair that area and treat the infestation problem as well. Different kinds of pests are attracted to a huge list of things, so it’s likely that you will need to get in an inspector to identify the cause and the entering point. It’s important that they are fixed before the property is treated for pests, as otherwise, you’d be treating the symptom, not the problem and the symptom will re-appear.
Here are a few examples for reasons of pest infestations related to disrepair or lack of maintenance:
Holes or gaps in external walls – If there is any hole or gap where pests can come in the property, rest assured they will. You home is like an oasis for all kinds of pests. There is warmth, protection, food, water – perfect condition for a pest to invade. If there are gaps or holes leading to the crawl space, basement or attic of the property, the pests will let themselves in and then slowly make their way into the rest of the house.
As Kenny discovered dead rats into the walls of his newly rented property, we can mostly conclude that they have found an exposed entry point in the house and then made their way into the walls, eventually causing some of the most disgusting messes we can think of.
In this case, the infestation has nothing to do with Kenny, his girlfriend and their lifestyle. The landlord is fully obliged to treat the problem, make sure there are no more entry points and the smell is removed.
The fact that they have just moved into the property further supports that they are not the reason for this rat problem.
Leaking pipes – Leaking pipes cause damp, mould and rot. These moist conditions are the perfect for rats to spread in searching for food and shelter. In fact, any kind of damp issue, whether it comes from the pipes, the ground, the sewers, or the gutters, will likely draw in insects and rats to your house.
Shooting back to Peter’s Silverfish problem, a simple Google search reveals that Silverfish are attracted to wet and damn places, such as the bathroom. Having that information and the fact that the problem persisted through all six years, as confirmed by the previous tenants, we can instantly conclude that there is a lot of damp in the property.
The landlord obviously hasn’t treated the property for damp, and likely it’s missing key ventilation equipment or even proper insulation that allows rising damp in the property.
Whatever it is, it’s not Peter’s fault.
How to make your landlord fix the problem
When the landlord is determined to be the cause, this issue should be treated just like any health hazard in the property. You should contact the landlord and inform them that there are pests and that the inspections has determined that a disrepair has caused the infestation.
You should request them to hire a pest control service and deal with the problem. However, as you need to be away during the fumigation, you should also negotiate a discount on monthly rent for the time you’ve been away – typically 3 days to a week.
If your landlord is reluctant to deal with the infestation, you may contact the local council. There, seek the help of the Environmental Health Department, which are responsible to enforce proper living standards in rented accommodations.
They will appoint an inspection to determine the severity and cause of the problem and will serve your landlord with a mandatory improvement notice with a fixed period for doing the repairs. If the landlord ignores them again, they will suffer a salty fine.
In the worst case scenario, the landlord may even be ordered to close the property as it does not fit the minimum living standard.
When are tenants responsible ?
As much as people hate to admit it, sometimes they are the cause of their own problems. Just like mould, pests can be caused by a lot of lifestyle errors, such as:
- Leaving food out
- Insufficient hygiene and infrequent cleaning of the property
- Bad ventilation and humidity control (causing damp -> causing pests)
- Excessive clutter in and around the house
- Incorrectly disposing of garbage or piling up a lot of garbage in / around the house
- Piling lots of dirty laundry
Furthermore, you may have accidentally brought them in from somewhere else – for example a holiday, business trip or even visit to your relatives. This is actually the most common way to get bed bugs. They easily travel in clothes, suitcases, etc and only one fertile female bed bug is enough to start a massive infestation that will have you throwing away mattresses, furniture and clothes, all expensive to replace.
When tenants are determined to be the reason for pests in the property, they must cover the expenses for pest control services and treatment as well as additional costs for accommodation, as the property will likely need to be fumigated.
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants’ Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our Repairs and safety category.
The Tenants’ Voice works in conjunction with Deposit Recovery Claims to assist tenants.
If you experience problems with your tenancy deposit, have disrepair in your rented property or suspect that your landlord should have a licence to rent your property but does not have one then you can receive a free consultation by calling our advice service: Call Tenant Assist on 0333 344 3788.
For more ways to reach us, please visit our contacts page.
Many people living in tropical or sub-tropical regions are exposed to the risk of a debilitating infestation of these tiny sand-fleas, yet little is known of their epidemiology. New study from Kenya shows how common they can be.
A jigger infestation, known as tungiasis, can be very painful; I speak from personal experience. This tiny sand-flea has a variety of other colloquial names including nigua, chigoe and bicho de pé (Portugues for foot-bug). The last one, and its scientific name, Tunga penetrans, giving clues to its habit, as the adult female burrows into the skin, usually of the foot.
Originally endemic in pre-Columbian Andean society and the West Indies jiggers were spread to other tropical and sub-tropical regions via shipping routes. They are now present in the Caribbean, Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and India, but not in Europe or North America.
The jigger life cycle
Jigger larvae live a few centimetres under sand or soil, feeding on organic matter. They are often found inside dwellings with mud floors. The larvae moult to adults about 1mm in size and move to the skin of a variety of mammals including rats, domestic animals and humans.
Unlike males, the females burrow into the skin leaving just the tip of their abdomen exposed, thus enabling them to exchange gasses, defecate and mate. The females feed on blood by inserting their proboscis into dermal capillaries. They quickly swell as they become full of eggs which are shed into the environment, after which the females die.
Penetration of the skin causes intense itching and is followed by inflammation and acute pain. The jigger is evident as a small swollen lesion, with a black dot at the centre, which can grow to the size of a pea.
Severe pathology following an infestation is caused by bacteria entering the skin when the jigger penetrates. These infections can lead to abscess formation, tissue necrosis and gangrene. Tungiasis has also been associated with tetanus, possible due to the entry of the soil pathogen, Clostridium tetani into the wound. In addition, Wolbachia bacteria, present in the jigger, release inflammation-inducing lipopolysaccharides into the surrounding tissue when the females die.
The risk of acute pathology can be prevented by removal of the jigger with a sterile needle and disinfection of the affected area. However, in poor rural or shanty-town settings non-sterile objects are often used to winkle the jigger out, including thorns or non-sterile pins, thereby introducing more bacteria.
Jiggers are endemic in many tropical and sub-tropical countries, but the epidemiology of the disease is poorly understood. In common with most neglected tropical diseases, the children and the elderly are the most likely to be affected by tungiasis. A recent study by Ruth Monyenye Nyangacha and colleagues aimed to asses risk factors and the health burden associated with this disease.
Tungiasis in Kenya
The study was based in 21 villages in Vihiga County, Kenya, and assessed 437 participants aged over 5 years for the presence of a jigger infestation. Socio-economic factors were assessed via a questionnaire. The area is densely populated and almost 80% of people live in houses with earthen floors. The soil in all study village was a sandy clay.
Just over 20% of participants were found to be infested. Five of the villages had no cases of tungiasis and three represented hot spots for infestation. Village altitude did not affect distribution of infestations in the study area, however factors associated with low economic status factors were significant, including:
- Going barefoot or wearing open toed footwear
- Lack of toilet facilities or electricity
- Washing without soap
- Houses with earthen floors
- Having a common resting place in the house
- Having rats around the house
Importantly, 45% of the participants in the study did not know how tungiasis is transmitted. It was associated with witchcraft, being cursed or, in the elderly, impending death.
The study also showed that 5-14-year-olds were particularly vulnerable, probably as they play barefooted around their houses and are also exposed to infestation when attending schools with earthen floors.
The authors recognise the modest scale of their study and point out several factors that could be important in future studies such as the inclusion of under-fives, topography and soil type studies and the conduction of longitudinal studies that may identify cause and effect, looking at one variable at a time.
These findings reinforce previous studies performed in other areas and point to the likelihood of transmission occurring where people gather to rest or sit for long periods, as jigger eggs could be shed there, and the whole lifecycle take place in that location. In particular, the finger points to poor rural schools which do not usually have concrete floors in the classrooms.
The report highlights preventative measures such as the need for education regarding transmission and hygiene, the importance of wearing protective footwear and the possibility of spraying the floor of areas were transmission could occur with insecticides.
The World Health Organisation does not officially recognise tungiasis as a neglected tropical disease and no systematic data on disease occurrence is available. Perhaps it is time this is remedied. Meanwhile avoid wearing open toed footwear if visiting areas where transmission could be occurring.
How to Clean a House of Fleas and Kill the Eggs
About the Author:
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper «De Overschiese Krant» and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.
Fleas are disliked by many people because they can carry and spread diseases and are linked to unsanitary conditions. The insects, which feed on human and animal blood, commonly enter your home by hitching a ride from your pets. Once this happens, fleas can multiply quickly, because the female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day and approximately 2,000 eggs during its lifetime. To clean your house of fleas, you have to kill the fleas and the flea eggs. If you don’t eliminate the eggs, new fleas will keep emerging in your home.
Things You’ll Need
Oral or topical pet flea treatment
Residual flea insecticide
Treat flea-infested pets with oral or topical flea treatments. Pet flea treatments kill any fleas and flea eggs residing on your pet. If your pet frequently swims or if it is frequently washed, use an oral flea treatment.
Wash pet bedding, bed sheets and pillow cases with hot water and laundry detergent. This will eliminate flea residue on the fabrics.
Pick up toys, pet food dishes, boxes, items stored under beds, and any other items on the floor that may interfere with cleaning the carpet.
Vacuum the house thoroughly, including tile and hardwood floors, and pay special attention to areas your pets may frequent. Vacuuming kills adult fleas, flea eggs and larvae that are hiding in the carpet. It also stimulates fleas to emerge from their cocoons faster, so they can be killed by your follow-up treatment. Tie up the vacuum cleaner bag and place it in the trash outside.
Vacuuming alone may not always remove all larvae, so to ensure all flea residue is gone, shampoo your carpets with a carpet-shampooing machine and allow them to air dry.
Apply a residual insecticide for fleas to your carpets to ward off fleas for a long period. Flea insecticide commonly comes in an aerosol can or in dust-form. Follow the application and safety instructions on the product label. Wear goggle, gloves and a fume mask if required. Cover all areas of your home, including underneath furniture and appliances and in pet sleeping areas. Open windows or turn on a fan to reduce fumes and to help the application dry quickly. Some insecticides may tell you to refrain from vacuuming after the application, while others may tell you to vacuum regularly.
Treat your pet with flea treatments early in the year to prevent fleas during spring and early summer, when they are prevalent.
Regularly monitor your home for the presence of fleas. Brush your pet with a flea brush or comb to check for fleas. Walk on your carpet wearing knee-high, white socks. If fleas are still present, they will jump on the socks and you will be able to see them.
Die Fleas! Die! Die! Die! Freaky Cheap Flea Control
flea control in a nutshell
flea control details
Marcia Larkins, D.V.M., chief of the companion and wildlife drugs branch in the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine says fleas are «Just a nuisance. They generally cause a lot of itching and scratching. They may also cause some discomfort due to possible allergic flea bite dermatitis.»
You’re going to be fine. Fleas are nothing more than a minor nuisance.
Yes, they do bite people. Yes, they did help spread disease hundreds of years ago — but they need a source of disease to spread it — and that is, these days, virtually unheard of in North America. I think that horse flies and mosquitoes are about a thousand times more dangerous — mostly because they can go get disease from far away and bring it to you. How freaked out do you get over a mosquito bite? And if you have a flea control problem in your house, those fleas can only bring to you disease that is already in your house.
You’re going to be fine. Flea control can be easy, cheap, and organic.
I hesitate to mention the plague, but it is a tool that the flea control fear mongers use. And this is, by far, the scariest thing possible with fleas, so let’s take a proper look at it.
To get the plague you also need rodents. But not just any rodents, the rodents must have the plague. The fleas must bite the rodents and then bite you. Since fleas don’t travel far, and this page is about controlling fleas in your home, you would have to have rodents with the plague in your home. Nearly all plague cases involve rodents living far away from people’s homes. Therefore, the odds of you getting the plague from a flea in your home is about one in a skillion jillion. You have a better chance of being elected president and then getting hit by lightning on your first day in office.
From the Center for Disease Control: «human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas (an average of 10 to 15 persons each year). . Most human cases in the United States occur in two regions: 1) northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado; and 2) California, southern Oregon, and far western Nevada.» And nearly all of those cases were in undeveloped areas. Usually undeveloped land far from most people. The people that do catch the plague are often researchers studying the rodents.
Since this is the scariest thing that can be thrown at you, do I really need to talk about anything else the flea control fear mongers will try to toss your way in order to scare you into parting with your money?
I wonder how many people die every year from flea poison? I’m having a hard time finding that data, but I did find this anecdotal report: From http://www.prescriptionbeds.com/people_sick.htm «My good friend acquired asthma after prolonged exposure to boric acid. (carpet treatment) Subsequently, she died from an asthma attack. This happened over a period of two years. «
If anybody finds good info on sickness/death coming from flea control toxins, please share that information in the flea control discussion thread.
I have to say «don’t panic» because I have personally witnessed panic. And this panic led to dropping $560 for «natural» toxic gick for flea control that came with a «guarantee» to be free of fleas for a year. And yet the fleas remained. And then the panic went way beyond that and everybody moved out of the house.
Panic means profits! It is scary how easily people will panic and then do all sorts of unreasonable things. And there are lots of less than ethical folks out there stirring up the panic so they can make money with flea control. Don’t be that gullible!
You’re going to be fine. With a little knowledge, a little time and about 20 bucks, the fleas will be all gone.
know your enemy
Wikipedia has some good info on fleas. At the time of this writing, it is pretty accurate and I expect it will become more accurate as time passes.
There are four stages in a flea’s life: egg, larva (maggoty-like-thing), pupa (in a cocoon) and adult.
Egg-to-egg life cycle is usually two to four weeks. Under the right conditions this can be a little shorter (12 days), or much longer (8 months).
An average fertile female flea lays about 200 eggs per month and 500 eggs over her entire lifespan. Some folks want to shock you (panic means profits!), so they compound this tidbit of data along with the life cycle information. So, suppose you have a flea worthy of the flea olympics and can lay 500 eggs per month — a real performer! I’ll name her Helga. And combine with that the perfect flea nursery so that those eggs can become adults in, say 14 days. So, on day one, Helga has an amazing day and lays 50 eggs! Helga’s best performance ever! 14 days later, Helga’s bratty kids pop out as adults. Flea sex. Eating. And then each brat squeezes out 50 eggs. Helga is so proud! So, that’s 2500 eggs. 14 days after that you have 125,000 eggs! You could then say «a single flea could be responsible for 125,000 eggs in one month!» Sunnuffabitch! Where’s my checkbook!
A quick pass at some rational math. Let’s say that Helga lays a more realistic 12 eggs. And we will go ahead and assume that half of those will hatch as male fleas. So at the two week point there are 6 females laying 6 more female eggs. So at the end of the month there are 36 females laying 12 eggs each. 432 eggs at the end of the month.
Further, this is assuming a lot of optimal things about the mating, finding food, the optimal egg, larva and pupal environment, the fastest possible egg-to-egg cycle with no consideration for mortality at all of the different stages.
The reality check is that it’s a hard life to be a flea. The larva compete for food (their favorite food is flea poop, but they’ll eat most forms of organic matter). In a clean house, it can be so difficult to find food, that hardly any larva become pupa. Hot and/or dry conditions can be deadly too. Even under the best conditions, flea mortality is often more than 80%. Assuming that Helga beats the odds and becomes a granny within the one month time frame, then she might have personally laid one female egg that survives to lay more eggs. That one might lay 12 eggs. If helga managed to lay another 12 eggs, you have a total of 24 possibly viable eggs at the end of the month, most of which will probably not make it to adulthood. So when you read outlandish numbers like 125,000, I think you’re reading something that is trying to get suckers to part with their money.
For a small, one bedroom filthy house with five filthy cats, and nobody ever does anything about it . I could see a breeding pair of fleas growing to a family of 20 in two months. Left without intervention, I could imagine a maximum of a thousand adult fleas living there. 50 to 100 per cat, and the rest looking for a host.
In my worst flea control situation, I don’t think there was ever more than 30 adult fleas alive in the house at one time.
So the important thing to keep in mind here is that if you keep a clean house, you’re probably not going to be dealing with more than a few dozen fleas at any given time.
On with the flea trivia .
A flea cannot jump higher than eight inches (hundreds of times their own height!).
My understanding is that a flea will sit in the pupal stage for a long time waiting for a host to come by. Then suddenly leap out and . boing! boing! boing! boing! boing! boing! and grab! On the host! Sometimes they miss. And if they miss, they have about one week to find food (blood) or they die.
A female flea has to consume blood before she can lay eggs.
The female will usually lay eggs on the host and the eggs then roll off of the host as the host moves about.
A flea can hitch a ride on a human. You could get fleas in your home and have no pets. You would then be the flea’s only food source. And you thought you were at the top of the food chain!
When a flea bites you, you probably won’t even notice. What you do notice is your own immune system reacting to the flea’s saliva (complete with anti-coagulants and some antigen proteins). The important thing here is that you might feel the itch two or three times! This can make you think that you have been bitten two or three times, but really you’ve been bitten just once. If you don’t sense the actual bite (and you probably won’t), the first itch comes about five to six hours later, and the second comes 24 to 48 hours later. So chances are that you feel the itch and think you have been bitten just now — but in reality, that flea came and went hours ago. Lots of people come to the errant conclusion that there are fleas in a room or in a house because of this. The only way to know where fleas are is to see the actual flea.
Some people say that fleas don’t bother them. My understanding is that the fleas still bite them, but they just don’t have an allergic reaction to flea spit, like 90% of humans do. That’s what that little red dot is: an allergic reaction to flea spit. If you have the red dot — you’re allergic!
flea control with diatomaceous earth
According to wikipedia: «fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae.»
This is an off white powder that feels a bit like flour. Not only can you eat it, it is already in a lot of the food that you eat.
I have heard two explanations of how it works.
One is that on a microscopic level, the particles are very sharp looking. These particles stick to an insect and get stuck between its exoskeleton joints. As the insect moves, it gets physically cut up.
The other explanation is that it sticks to the insect and somehow causes them to dry out. I think this approach involves scratching the insects waxy layer which then allows precious moisture within the insect to get out.
A reader, Sue, in Washington state writes:
Both are true and connected. DE is almost pure silica (with some beneficial trace minerals); under a microscope, it looks like shards of glass (glass is made from silica). On any beetle-type insect that has a carapace, like fleas and cockroaches, the DE works under the shell and punctures the body, which then dehydrates and the insect dies. DE is totally nontoxic. There is no buildup of tolerance like there is to poisons because the method of killing is PHYSICAL, not chemical.
The important thing to us is that if an insect with an exoskeleton gets diatomaceous earth on them, they die. At the same time, we can rub it all over our skin, rub it in our hair, eat it . whatever . and we are unharmed.
Farmers dump diatomaceous earth by big scoops in with grains when the grains are stored. It kills the insects that want to feast on the grain. This is a great improvement over the stuff they used to put in with the grain.
Farmers feed gobs of it to animals in the hopes that it will cure whatever ails them. Many farmers swear that the stuff kills all sorts of worms in their critters.
The only concern about this stuff is that if you throw it into the air, you can make a big cloud of the stuff. Breathing that in can irritate your lungs. Just as breathing in anything other than pure air can irritate your lungs. The same concern applies to pastry flour, talcum powder, corn starch or dust on the wind from outside. The dust that gets into the air from emptying your vacuum cleaner bag is probably far worse for you than diatomaceous earth dust.
I’ve heard of some folks intentionally making a cloud of the stuff in a room to make sure the diatomaceous earth gets into everything. If you’re going to do this, you should probably turn appliances off first so that their fan stuff doesn’t get plugged with the dust. I don’t go this route — all that dust makes me cough.
For flea control, I try to make a paper thin layer of diatomaceous earth wherever the vacuum doesn’t reach easily and use the vacuum technique (below) also. That way, when an adult flea jumps out of its cocoon, instead of going «boing! boing! boing! boing!» it goes «piff! piff! piff! piff! urk!» I don’t throw it around — more like lay it about and then spread it around slowly with my hand. Kinda like finger painting.
Note that diatomaceous earth works only on the adult stage of the flea. (Some say it works on the larval stage too) So while traveling this road for flea control, be thinking that there are lots of eggs, larva and pupa around still. The strategy is to kill the adults before they lay more eggs. If we assume that diatomaceous earth works so good that the lifespan of an adult flea is one minute, then you will continue to see adult fleas for the next two to four weeks — from the eggs already laid. They just won’t live very long.
Make sure you buy «food grade» diatomaceous earth. There is some stuff used for swimming pool filters. Don’t use that. There are some other varieties of diatomaceous earth that are labeled just «Diatomaceous Earth» but they have other stuff added to it. Icky stuff. The «food grade» diatomaceous earth is pure.
A great thing about diatomaceous earth is that you can leave it around the edges of your home and in hard to reach places for months or years. As long as it doesn’t get wet, it will continue to work.
One time I had some fleas in my room and I just put down diatomaceous earth. I did no other flea control. I then put it out of my mind. Two days later I checked my ankles and had no new flea bites. I vacuumed up all of the dust about two weeks later, and set out a flea trap (see below). I caught one flea, then I went to the diatomaceous earth-along-the-edges and vacuum approach combined with a flea trap every night. The flea trap did turn up a flea once in a while for two weeks, and no more after that.
My first attempts at flea control with diatomaceous earth on carpet were to just sprinkle and not spread it to make a paper thin layer. This had mixed results. My sprinkle without spreading, covered about 20% of the surface. Mathematically, this means that the average flea lifespan is five times longer (if a flea has to touch diatomaceous earth 5 times to die, then that would be 5 hops with full coverage and 25 hops on average with 20% coverage). Some fleas might then live long enough to bite. Possibly long enough to lay eggs. Not good. The paper thin layer has 99% coverage and no bites were experienced.
I have heard from two people that said that they won’t use diatomaceous earth anymore because «the tiny particles cut my lungs!» — (deep sigh goes here) All I can say is «Did you actually examine your lung with a microscope and watch the diatomaceous earth cut into it?» — of course, they did not. I think the truth behind these reports is that these folks heard how diatomaceous earth works, and when they would breath in the dust, it would make them cough — just as breathing in flour or corn starch would make you cough. And then they thought of the sharpness at a microscopic level. My understanding is that when diatomaceous earth becomes moist, the sharp thing is no longer happening. That’s why you have to keep it dry when you use it. Lungs are all squishy and moist. Squishy beats diatomaceous earth. Squishy, squishy, squishy.
I have encountered over a dozen ignorant boobs that have proclaimed «Diatomaceous Earth does NOT work!» I have read this statement in all caps. In extra big fonts. With italics. And I’ve even had it screamed at me. I’m gonna stick with «ignorant boobs». On closer inspection of each case there is always a flaw. Usually the problem is that it was not used correctly. If you put it in one place and hope the fleas are drawn to it to die, I have found that strategy sucks. Another flaw is to use it correctly, but there are still eggs hatching and fleas come out of the pupal stage. The diatomaceous earth hasn’t had a chance to do its magic yet. I kinda wonder if the pesticide companies pay people to go to internet forums and say this sort of thing. diatomaceous earth is super cheap, non toxic, and generally more effective than anything the pesticide companies have to offer — so it kinda cuts into their profit margins a bit. I’ve been meaning to create an experiment to set the record straight on this topic, but a participant in the flea control thread, Stephanie, beat me to it:
I tried my own experiment with the DE to see how quickly it kills the fleas; I caught a few fleas and put them in a jar with a pinch of DE — all were dead within just a couple of hours.
How to get diatomaceous earth? Well, I have a lot to say about that too, so it is part of a new article I wrote on diatomaceous earth.
flea control by vacuuming
This assumes that you have carpets.
One of the things that convinces a flea that it is time to leave the cocoon and jump on a host is vibration. And a vacuum provides one helluva vibration! If you toss a little diatomaceous earth on the floor before vacuuming, then the flea ends up in a cush pile of diatomaceous earth in the vacuum bag.
If you are going to vacuum less often than once every three days, you should probably spread diatomaceous earth all over the floor between vacuuming.
If you are experiencing a LOT of fleas, you might want to vacuum once or twice a day just to be comfortable.
flea control with light traps (aka «flea traps»)
These things feed my inner scientist! (evil, maniacal laugh goes here)
Fleas are so small, often the only way to measure success is whether you are still getting bitten. So this simple trick is a great way to not only kill fleas, but to monitor your progress.
Just a little lamp next to a plate of soapy water. Fleas are of an insect family that is drawn to light. They’re just stupid that way. And fleas drown easily provided that you disable their mechanism to deal with water (that’s what the soap does).
Set the trap out at night. Count the number of dead fleas in the morning. This is the best way to measure how your efforts are working. You don’t have to wear a white lab coat and thick rimmed glasses if you don’t want to. If you don’t have engingeering paper on a clipboard, you can use the back of an envelope.
If you are doing a good job with the diatomaceous earth approach, then during the first couple of weeks you should see fleas in your trap every night. After two or three weeks the numbers should start to drop a lot. Around four weeks the numbers should be zero. I would continue monitoring for four weeks beyond the sight of the last adult. After all, what if that adult managed to lay eggs before dying?
A desk lamp is the best. It can focus the light into a small area, rather than illuminate the whole room.
If you are setting many traps each night, we’ve found the easiest thing to do is to put dry plates on the ground and pour soapy water into the plates.
I think that light traps alone probably won’t be a complete flea control solution. Even if you used lots of them every night, they would probably only kill 95% of your population. That remaining 5% can go on reproducing. Diatomaceous earth is going to be your real flea control workhorse.
If you have a pet, don’t think that using the light trap takes the place of using a flea comb. The light attracts fleas that are looking for food. The fleas on your pet are living on the food.
You want a lamp with a sturdy base and that is AC powered (not battery powered). You also need something that is flexible enough to reach close to the ground. This one is less than ten bucks:
Lamp that is perfect for a flea trap
flea control with a dehumidifier
I’m having a hard time coming up with any really hard research on this one, but I am finding a lot of anecdotal success.
My understanding, from some pretty weak sources, is that this does work on all stages of a flea’s life.
Apparently, fleas require 50% or higher relative humidity to live. They prefer 70% or higher. Think about it: all life requires water. Fleas can survive in a house, but where do they get their water? The only source is the air, and apparently they need plenty of it or their innards quickly turn into flea jerky.
As I examine my own history . the only time I have had to deal with fleas was when living in Eugene, Oregon (moist with mild temperatures) and in Seattle, Washington (moist with mild temperatures). In all other places (mountain desert) I let cats and dogs in and out of the house willy nilly and never gave a thought to flea control. I think this is a strong indicator of how fleas thrive in humidity and are almost non-existent where it is dry.
I have now tried this flea control dehumidifier trick on two rooms:
Room 1: A housemate captured seven fleas by hand in about an hour and drowned them in soapy water. We moved the dehumidifier into his room and ran it for two days with nobody living in there. We entered the room only to empty the water from the dehumidifier. We then put flea traps in the room every night. No fleas. The dehumidifier appears to have worked very well. But note that this is a very small room. By September 2007, I should post the longer term flea control results here.
Well, it is now April, 2008 and that room has been flea free since I wrote the above in July of 2007. In fact, the whole house has been flea free since about a week after I wrote this article.
Room 2: This much larger room had diatomaceous earth on the floors and was getting vacuumed daily. It had a serious flea problem at one point. There were two traps. The night before putting in the dehumidifier, the traps had caught two fleas each. The dehumidifier was run for two days with nobody living in the room. We entered the room only to empty the water. Immediately afterward, six fleas were caught. Another round of heat (93 degrees F max) plus dehumidifier was done. The next day two more fleas were caught. So this flea control experiment didn’t work. I think that the size of the room is a factor. Either the dehumidifier needs to run longer, or a more more powerful dehumidifier is needed.
I don’t yet have the flea control confidence in this that I have in diatomaceous earth, but I think there is a lot of potential. I just need to do more experiments. Hmmmmmm . I think I need a way to test relative humidity .
My reading suggests that this works on nearly all critters that don’t drink water. There are some dehumidifiers sold specifically for controlling problem insects in a closed space.
A possibly worthwhile note: most of the work done by an air conditioner is to dehumidify.
flea control with heat
This is one that I have not yet properly tried, but it has actual science behind it and it just sounds cool (pun?).
A flea larva cannot survive 103 degrees F for one hour. My thinking is that you would want to sustain a temp of about 108 for at least four hours — just to make sure that the temperature penetrated all of the hiding places.
On one web site, a guy said that he turns his thermostat all the way up (about 90) and leaves for the day. He comes home and there are no more fleas. Since I first mentioned this form of flea control in this article, I have had two more people contact me to say that it worked for them too!
I have now tried this twice.
1) One room with a portable heater: My portable heater has a thermostat built in. I couldn’t get the temperature in the room above 93. I probably sustained that temperature for six or seven hours. Two fleas were caught in that room the next day.
2) A friend’s house. I turned the heat up to full blast for the whole house. It got to about 85 for about three hours. Still lots of fleas.
Both times this failed for me, I’m pretty sure it was raining outside. That would mean that relative humidity (RH) probably did not drop below 50%. In other words, what if it isn’t exactly the heat that kills the fleas, but it is the RH? RH would need to get to under 40%, or maybe under 30% in order to kill the fleas. So on the days that I did the test, the dewpoint was probably at about 65. What if I did the test when the dewpoint would be something like 40? Then the RH would be something like 25% and would probably easily kill all of the fleas in the house. That is probably why other people did this and it worked, while when I did it, it didn’t work! If this works, and I can repeat it a few times, this could become my #1 solution! More flea control testing coming soon!
flea control by shampooing (or steam cleaning) your carpet
Another one I have not tried.
The theory is that fleas drown easily in soapy water. And they don’t cope with heat well either, so the steam cleaning would be even better. This should also remove more flea poop — the flea larva’s favorite food.
My reading suggests that this impacts all stages of the flea’s life.
Note that once diatomaceous earth is wet, it won’t work anymore.
Note also that there are some folks that say this doesn’t work because
the fleas are not under water long enough to drown
fleas like warm and moist, and you just gave them moist
you can’t get to the fleas in the edges, and, possibly, some nooks and crannies, where a lot of the fleas live in the earlier stages. So if shampooing works, it won’t kill the fleas in the edges, nooks and crannies, and then those fleas have a fantastic, moist environment to move into.
flea control by less carpet
If you have hardwood floors and no carpets, chances are that you have no flea problem. People with no carpets rarely have flea problems. And if you do, it seems to be easy to get rid of fleas. It might be worth considering.
flea control by washing your clothes/bedding
If your clothes are on the floor, they could be harboring fleas in one of the many stages. A trip through a washing machine (with soap/detergent) will kill all fleas in all stages. Pretty easy.
During the days of flea trouble, it would be wise to keep your room(s) clean and do all of your laundry at least once a week.
If you have flea bites above your knees, the fleas are in your bedding. Wash all of your bedding. Your comforters and blankets might need to go for a ride in those big, front loading things at the laundromat.
I never heard of dry cleaning doing anything to fleas, so if you have wool or down, I think you’re going to have to go with a very gentle cold wash followed by air drying with no heat.
flea control for your critters
If you have a critter (dog, cat . ferret . etc.) that has become a home to fleas, the first thing you need to do is use a flea comb. Comb the animal in such a way that the fleas and eggs will end up outside or in soapy water. That way, the fleas don’t just jump back onto your pet two minutes later.
Optionally, once a week, dunk your critter in warm water with a mild soap for about five minutes. It might help to wrap the critter tightly in a towel first to prevent squirming. Just dunk the critter and the towel. When you do this, be prepared for fleas to make a dash for the head — be prepared with the flea comb. Wet fur can often expose more fleas. Pick them all off.
Wash your pets bedding every few days and (optionally) dust with diatomaceous earth. You can even work the diatomaceous earth into your pet’s fur if you like.
A reader, Sue, in Washington state writes:
I live in a flea paradise: warm and humid. At the first sign of a flea, I dust all my pets with DE, working it down to the skin. I do this weekly or every two weeks, mostly depending on the type of the animal’s haircoat. My dog has a thick coat (Belgian Tervuren), and one cat has a bushy coat. I do them every two weeks. The smooth-haired cats I do every week, as I suspect their usual grooming removes the DE faster.
Then I dust their bedding. Then I use a small-mesh wire sieve and lightly dust my carpets with the DE. Since the DE does tend to fly when I do the carpets, I use a simple drugstore face mask to protect myself.
I’ve been using DE for three years. A friend of mine that has 16 unadoptable cats from a rescue operation uses it, too.
I’ve now heard from a lot of people that they are having great flea control success feeding their pets flea treats. Apparently, they are loaded with liver and B vitamins. The important part is that there are no nasty chemicals and the reports I have been reading suggest it is not only very effective at getting the fleas to go away, but the animals appear healthier overall.
DO NOT USE POISON!
I think this topic is large and obvious. Just take a look at the warning labels if nothing else. In nearly every case, you end up poisoning yourself and your family along with the fleas.
If you think I’m out of my gourd, please google «MSDS» and the name of your product of choice to get the facts BEFORE you poison yourself. «MSDS» is the «Material Safety Data Sheet» that is required by law to be provided with the product. Although it turns out that actually providing that material cuts way back on the sales of these products, so it is «forgotten.»
Use your brain before your flea control poison lowers your IQ by 20 points.
DO NOT USE Borate Powder
This is an edge case poison. Often pushed as «natural» or «least toxic». I discuss it in detail here because, while it is a lot less toxic than other stuff, it is still toxic and if you are considering using it for flea control, you should get a grip on just how toxic it is.
This stuff travels under a lot of names: Boric Acid, Fleabusters, Sodium Polyborate, Borax, Sodium Borate, Sodium Tetraborate, Disodium Tetraborate, Boracic Acid, Orthoboric Acid, Acidum Boricum and many other names.
Because this stuff is far less toxic than most other poisons, a lot of ignorant environmental groups have pushed it as a solution. Of course, you need lots more of it (compared to the stronger poisons) to work against fleas. So in the end you may be about equally poisoned.
Since this stuff can occur naturally, it is sometimes marketed as a «natural» product. Well, there are lots of powerful poisons out there that occur naturally (arsenic, cyanide and asbestos come to mind), that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to bring it into your home and expose yourself to it.
A fascinating article at http://www.unexco.com/boric-op.pdf. As it introduces part 2, it says «Part I of Mr. Cartwright’s article addressed the use of Boric Acid (the main ingredient in many flea control products such as Fleabusters) in a method that is inconsistent with that recommended by the manufacturer * — i.e. broadcast application, or spreading over a large area where there will be constant direct contact. This type of application can lead to exposure to the chemical which can have harmful effects. Particularly susceptible would be children and animals.»
* In this case, «the manufacturer» is «U.S. Borax»
Mr. Cartwright then says «U.S. Borax has the only correct Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on boric acid that I have seen to date. Most, if not all, other manufacturers of pesticides that contain boric acid have incomplete information contained in their MSDSs about boric acid and/or borates.»
Here is an excellent, scientifically backed, article on Boric Acid and Borates Toxicity
DO NOT USE Pyrethrins/Pyrethrum
This is another edge case poison. Like borates, it is often pushed as «natural» or «least toxic». I discuss it in detail here because, while it is a lot less toxic than other stuff, it is still toxic and if you are considering using it, you should get a grip on just how toxic it is.
From this fantastic document on Pyrethrin/Pyrethrum Toxicity: «Pyrethrins are a common cause of insecticide poisonings. According to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey of poison control centers, they cause more insecticide poisoning incidents than any other class of insecticides except the organophosphates. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.»
DO NOT USE flea bombs
Think about how they work. They put poison on everything. If you touch a wall and then eat a grape, you just ate poison. Of course the product is labeled to say that you need to clean everything afterward so that you don’t poison yourself. Somehow I doubt folks clean everything that the flea bomb can reach. And besides, isn’t the whole idea with the flea bomb is the convenience? Just set it off and come back the next day. Cleaning EVERYTHING doesn’t sound really convenient.
My reading suggests that for the flea bombs to work, you need to set a new one off once a week for three to six weeks. That’s a lot of poison. And even then. some people say that the fleas are still not gone.
DO NOT USE flea collars
Pretty straight forward. Poison on your pet.
flea control summary
With hardwood floors, I just toss out a little diatomaceous earth in the nooks and crannies. With carpets, you need to add in some regular vacuuming with some diatomaceous earth mixed in. The light traps help you to make sure you are making good progress. After the fleas are gone, keep a little diatomaceous earth in nooks and crannies and in pet bedding — just as a preventative.
I have great hopes about the dehumidifier and the heat approaches. We’ll see what information shows up on these fronts over the next few months/years.
Fleas are nothing more than a minor nuisance and are easily controlled with with some really cheap, safe products and a little patience.
other articles about flea control
Most of the information I can find seems to be selling something. And the primary ingredient to get you to part with your money is to freak you out. Even the articles that aren’t selling something seem to want to sensationalize a bit. I’ve tried to pick out a couple that are more reasonable.
Natural Flea Control (motherearthnews.com): I’ve subscribed to mother earth news off and on for years. I generally like the mag, but their web site is just way too commercial for my tastes. The article is first rate. I especially like how the statements are not exaggerated and are well qualified. There is a focus on general cleanliness, vacuuming and diatomaceous earth. Unfortunately, there is a recommendation for flea bombs, which I don’t agree with.
Natural, Non-toxic Flea Control (eartheasy.com): For a commercial outfit, this is really good. I think they are pushing a little bit of panic when they say «A single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day» instead of something like «The average adult flea lays an average of 2 eggs per day» (figuring in the males, and the older females). There is good stuff about how to deal with fleas for your pets, advocating good overall health. While they sell the sticky flea traps, they do mention the home made soapy water flea traps.
Comments? Questions? Rude gestures? Discuss this article in the flea control thread.
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