Fleas are modern day vampires that live on the blood of their hosts to survive. Flea infestations can happen fast taking over your house in a matter of weeks. Your pets and entire family can become infected and festered with this evil insects that feed on us. In this class you will learn about the life cycle, how to prevent a flea infestation and how to get rid of fleas fast through a number of different techniques.
Fleas are small (usually around 1/16″ long), agile, usually dark colored, wingless insects that feed on the blood of their hosts to survive. Fleas spend a lot of time hiding in your pets bed, carpet or anywhere they can find suitable shelter. They will lay eggs which will turn into larvae who feed on the excrement of adult fleas and pet dander. I know, gross! After they have feed enough they will turn into pupa which take another two weeks to three weeks to turn into adult fleas.
The reason flea infestations can become a nightmare and hard to get rid of is the fact that flea eggs can lay dormant for up to a year. Furthermore, an adult flea can lay up to 800 eggs in its lifetime. Fleas prefer temperature of 65-80 degrees fahrenheit and higher humidity (70%+), both factors that will lead to a faster life cycle.
Effects of Flea Bites
Fleas are nasty little critters and even if for some odd reason you don’t mind them, these facts may change your opinion of the blood sucking vermin. Flea bites can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis, skin irritations and, in extreme cases tapeworm and stomach flu. They also can carry plague and any disease transferred from human to rodent and rodent to human. A typical reaction a flea bite is a small red bump that is itchy and swollen.
As we begin to take a look at how to get rid of fleas you need to understand it is a two step process. First we have to cleanse your home or the environment from the flea infestation. Second, we have to cleanse the host which can be you or your animals. You also will have to decide whether you want to use all natural methods to get rid of fleas or chemicals. I always suggest you begin with all natural treatments when trying to exterminate any pests in or around your home.
Environmental Flea Extermination
- The first step is to quarantine your pets to prevent further contamination as you begin to clean your house.
- Collect all bedding, carpets, drapes, rugs and wash them in hot soapy water. Warm soapy water will kill larvae, pupae and adults. Make sure you don’t reintroduce anything you have cleaned into the infected environment until you have gone through all of the following steps.
- Vacuum your entire house. Vacuum everything thoroughly and when you think you are done vacuum again. After you vacuum make sure to dispose of the contents in a bag outside that is sealed properly.
- Have your floors professionally steam cleaned. Steam will kill every stage of fleas except eggs. Most professional steam cleaning companies will have experience with flea extermination and may also be able to treat your floors with infrared treatment which will kill all stages of fleas including eggs. You may also apply an insecticidal carpet shampoo when the floors are being cleaned.
- In extreme flea infestations you may have to use a flea bomb or flea flogger. Some flea bombs are all natural using products like pyrethrins while others will use chemicals. I would use this as a last option as you can’t control the area being treated and clean up can be extensive.
- You will also have to treat around the exterior of your house if your pets spend time outside. You can begin by trying some soapy water but I would suggest using a professional product. Frontline makes several products for treating fleas around the exterior of your home that are applied with a sprayer and hose.
Following these steps will help to control the fleas within your home. The next step is to treat your animals for any fleas in their coats of which you have several options.
- Bathe pets in soap and water. Soap in warm water acts as a natural insecticide. They commonly will be referred to as “insecticidal soaps”. However, you can simply use your current animal shampoo. I suggest you bathe them a couple times making sure to allow your tub or sink to drain as your washing them.
- Flea Dips. Flea dips use pyrethrins which are the natural ingredient found in the natural insecticide, Pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is one of the most effective insecticides for killing fleas on everything but cats. Cats can be extremely sensitive to Pyrethrum so other products should be used. Adam’s makes one of the better flea dips with pyrethrin.
- As an alternative, pyrethrum comes in a powder form and can also be used to control a flea population. Made from the crushed flowers of pyrethrum chrysanthemums, simply work it into your animals coat avoiding getting it around their eyes, nose and mouths.
- Linalool and d-limonene treatments are another effective option. Linalool and d-limonene are extracts from citrus peels making them all natural and safe to use around your home. Not only can you treat your pet with Linalool and d-limonene but you can use it to clean bedding and floors.
- A simple flea comb can be very effective to get rid of fleas. I personally would use the comb while you’re bathing your animals with soapy water. This will also give you an idea of the extent of your flea infestation as you can monitor any increases in a flea population as you bathe your animals.
- Feed your animal a healthy diet. Fleas prefer an animal with a weaker immune system which is the reason why puppies and kittens are more susceptible to fleas.
Preventing A Flea Infestation
The best method for a flea infestation is prevention. The following tips will help you prevent ever having a flea problem in your home.
- Bathe your animals once a month especially after spending a lot of time outside. Keep your pets smelling clean and flea free by giving them regular baths with warm soapy water. I suggest you use a flea comb while bathing your pet to detect any early signs of fleas. Fleas are a lot easier to get rid of when caught in the early stages.
- Vacuum and clean your home frequently especially during the summer months.
- Frontline and other companies offers products that can be applied to your pets to help prevent fleas and ticks as well. They are very effective but make sure to only use a small amount to test if your pet has any reactions.