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organic war on fleas!  RSS feed

 
Eric Miller
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I read your post on using diatomaceous earth and got to the point where you were trying to desicate flea eggs by using a dehumidifier.
Your experiment involved heating a room above 105F to dry out the room..

This is backwards. If you heat the air, the surfaces will be cooler than the air. Yes, hotter air can hold more water, but water will always prefer a cooler surface.

The way to dessicate a surface is to have the surface warmer than the ambient air.

Another factor will be the presence of what I'll call "constant humidity salts" on surfaces. Soaps, surfactants, sodium hydroxide, sodium chloride (table salt) will tend to maintain a certain humidity in a closed environment if in a saturated solution. So a clean rinsed surface will get dryer than one coated with carpet cleaner.

My mind now goes to how I can uniformly warm all surfaces to dry out a room.

The infrared heaters being sold today warm surfaces and not the air. These should work great at keeping surfaces dry. It might be hard to warm shadowy places, so another strategy needs to be used there, like diatomaceous earth, sticky stuff, barriers.

So, here's my plan.. (yes, this summer was a bad flea year)

1) Do the diatomaceous thing with the expectation that I'll not get rid of all the fleas.
2)This winter, I'll try to heat my crawl space so that the floors are warmer than the room air.
3) Then set my house on fire... (guaranteed way to get rid of fleas in a home... JUST KIDDING!)

P.S. I was wondering, would it be possible to use an iron to fry the eggs in my carpet? It would take a long time to get the heat down far enough, but, hey, protein is protein.




 
Wendi Bird
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I know this article is several years old but I am so glad I found it while searching for non-toxic flea control! I can't thank you enough!

While I was on vacation out of the country last month, I received a panicked email from my cat sitter. He swore he had, in only three days at my apartment, suffered 69 flea bites and that there was a major infestation of fleas in my home and on my cat! Since I have an indoor cat, and especially since I hadn't seen a single flea in over a year living in this apartment, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that in only three days of being away, fleas would suddenly take over my entire home!

My downstairs neighbor, who has two cats, hadn't noticed any fleas in her apartment. Her daughter in law emailed me the next day telling me they were going to flea bomb my apartment!! And remove my cat from my house, take him downstairs to her place with her two cats, and give him a flea bath!! I luckily caught them before they did any of that toxic, disgusting stuff! I was completely appalled that she would take it upon herself to spread poisons all over my home, but that's beside the point. I was coming home in less than a week, and because the cat sitter was "so traumatized", I told him to just go ahead and leave and my neighbor would come every day and feed my cat and look after him. UGH.

In the weeks since we have returned, I have seen maybe a total of 15 fleas. Most of them we have been able to catch and smush between our fingers, but in our guest room, which has a carpet (and oddly, the room we don't allow the cat in), there were many more which would jump on us as soon as we entered. On Sunday we went in and each had 5 jump on immediately. This might have led me to panic in previous years, but I have had flea problems before in Florida, and knew how to handle the rising feeling of panic. I considered buying boric acid until I found your article.

My husband and I got diatomaceous earth and spread it all over our apartment. We let it sit on the carpets for two days (we only have two rugs in the apartment, hardwood floors everywhere else), and then vacuumed it up last night. We then walked around barefoot and made a lot of vibrations on the floor to see how many would jump on us. We did get a few very small adults, but we quickly drowned those in soapy water per your suggestion. It takes about 15 seconds for the fleas to die under the water.

We also put our a plate of soapy water with a desk lamp over it overnight. This morning there were only 5 fleas in it. I am ecstatic. Thank you so much for this article!!!

 
                                  
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While the article I read had some informative material, I was disappointed by the amount of conjecture or the number of "statistics" that were the result of the author's speculation. I also believe he seriously downplays the potential severity of a flea problem and severely underestimates the number of fleas that are present when one is visible as well as how quickly they can multiply.

We recently knew of a few fleas in the house just before we went away for a funeral two weeks ago. We haven't had a flea problem for years. We were gone for three days. When we returned, the house was absolutely infested. I spent the entire next day (Labor Day) treating our 2,500 s.f. home top to bottom. Our poor cats (we have two indoor-only cats) had literally HUNDREDS of fleas crawling all over them. Our one cat, who is orange and white - well, my 18 year old daughter questioned whether she was washing off his color because when she wet him (no soap at this point) for a bath, the water off him ran orange for a few minutes. The two of us spent well over an hour and a half bathing him, picking off fleas and trying to eradicate the problem as it existed on him. After all that time, we failed.

We have 7 light traps set up around our house (I could probably use double that number). We get fleas in them every night despite treating the carpets with borax/salt/baking soda and vacuuming frequently.
I've used borax in the past with absolutely no problems and have no qualms about continuing to use it regardless of the article's author's apprehensions.

Although the fleas have been found in every room in our home, they are definitely not as much of a problem in some rooms (I've seen two fleas in our bedroom, for example) as they are in others.

I rarely get bitten but one of my daughters and my husband are flea magnets who have gotten nearly 100 bites each. I vacuum daily, dumping the contents of the vac canister into a bucket of soapy water to drown the fleas. I see MANY live fleas in that canister each time I vacuum. We also steam mop our hard floors a couple of times a week.

I began feeding the cats diatomaceous earth and brewer's yeast. I added less than a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar to their water but they refused to drink it. We also used an herbal spot treatment on our cats, which they promptly licked off each other.

We have now, unfortunately, resorted to a pesticide spot-on treatment. I hate having to do that but I have to break the cycle and what we have been doing so far has not worked. The problem should be significantly improved by now if organic means were going to suffice but they have not.
 
Marc Troyka
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Some real facts on fleas:

-Fleas are almost all exclusively parthenogenic; every flea is a girl and lays eggs with no fertilization.

-Yes, fleas can produce up to 5000 eggs in their adult lifetime of 'several months'. Eggs are laid in groups of ~20, usually on the host.

-With favorable temperature and high humidity, about 20% of flea eggs will become flea adults. In very dry conditions, only 5% of flea eggs may become adults.

-Hibernating pupated fleas pop out based on signals of heat, CO2 and vibration. Adding a little cap of baking soda and vinegar, or fruit juice and yeast to your flea trap should increase its effectiveness. I can't think of anything that would make the right kind of "thump thump thump" vibrations of an animal walking that might wake them up.

-DE will only kill adult fleas, as DE is only effective against hard-bodied insects, and flea larvae are soft-bodied and maggot-like.

-Baking soda will kill flea larvae, by dessication. Finely powdered salt is also said to work, but salt can be more of an environmental pollutant. Dust it in a thin layer all over your carpet, brush it in gently with a broom. Vacuum it up in 3 days.

DE+baking soda should kill fleas at every stage of life very quickly and effectively.
 
Burra Maluca
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M Troyka wrote:
Fleas are almost all exclusively parthenogenic; every flea is a girl and lays eggs with no fertilization.


I thought that was water fleas, not cat fleas - Reproductive strategies of the cat flea
 
John Meshna
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Feeding DE to an animal has no effect on the fleas. All that does is kill and protect them from a variety of internal parasites in their digestive tract. Diatomaceous Earth applied properly is one metric to use in the fight against fleas. Treating the critter on the outside is important too but they do lick it off and some animal fur holds onto it better than others. We have Jack Russels and a German shepherd. You out DE on the shepherd and it's there for weeks. Put in on the Jack Russels and it's gone within and hour because their fur is specifically designed to shed dust. I suppose they become a method of spreading it around but it doesn't stay on them.
The herbal treatments that come in tubes trying to look like synthetic brands have not shown themselves to work around here. What does work is the latest best thing to come onto the market. It's called Comfortis. It's made with Spinosad and it's the same ingredient in a few lines of pest control products that are OMRI listed and very safe. http://www.dirtworks.net/Monterey-Garden-Insect-Spray.html. It's not cheap but we used nematodes, diatomaceous earth and Comfortis and we are flea free after a long period of problems. If you have a serious problem with fleas you have to use all these methods at once and for a while, along with general cleanliness like vacuuming the house often including the couches and soft furniture in all the cracks and we even put DE inside of the pillow cases of the couch and treated the couch with it so it's in there for good.https://www.comfortis.com.

I did read in this string about some one having lung or throat problems after treating with DE or maybe somewhere else on the site but he/she also mentioned that the home was treated with pyrethrin or permethrine. that is most likely to be the problem. It's a neurotoxin and specifically effects the lungs and breathing apparatus. Small doses are not harmful but constant exposure and overexposure can be cause some people real trouble. It's made to be used outside most of the time. Food grade De contains very little crystaline silica which can cause serious respiratory problems and does contain mostly amorphous silica which your body can absorb and does absorb and even use a little of. Life on earth would be impossible without it. Of course large amounts of any dust can be hazardous and boric acid is a little toxic too and people who have sensitivity to such things should always do a test area before committing to doing their entire house. Pyrethrine and it's synthetic cousins should not be used inside a house. Greenhouse use is okay but there is a re-entry time period usually listed on the label. Houses are too confined and can keep the gasses trapped for too long a time.
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
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Burra Maluca wrote:
M Troyka wrote:
Fleas are almost all exclusively parthenogenic; every flea is a girl and lays eggs with no fertilization.


I thought that was water fleas, not cat fleas - Reproductive strategies of the cat flea


Not sure. Apparently wikipedia was wrong though.

Doing the math, that would be:

1 adult female flea = 5000 eggs x (10%) = 500 eggs laid that are female and reach adulthood.

Humidity plays a huge effect. Low humidity reduces the laying of adults and can reduce survival of larvae down to 5% (125 surviving female larvae per laying flea). Conversely, high humidity can saturate baking soda and DE and make them useless.
 
crammit nolipilon
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I found a few things on vinegar within this thread but wanted to add a few imporant things. Use Vinegar liberally on carpet, hardwood floors, furniture and bedding and you will be done with them. Give your dog a bath with vinegar as stated previously in other threads. Dealt with mass flea infestation on a Chow a few years back and now brought a puppy home from a shelter last Sunday and she brought some extra visitors along. We got rid of the Chow's flea mess in one cycle using a lot of vinegar. Vaccuum everything first. I bought a new weed sprayer for 5 bucks and literally sprayed all my floors and rugs with about a 70% water / 30% white vinegar mix. I sprayed my hardwood floors and all the corners very well. Sprayed carpets and furniture and bedding liberally. I then took a push broom and a bath towel soaked in the mixture and "cleaned" my floors with it. It was pretty wet. The floors were already wet so I was just using it to make sure I got the entire floor and all the cracks really well. Vinger is acidic and it will kill the nasty critters. I found this site reading about Diatomic Earth and thought I'd add to it. I will also go by some and then put it down after my next vinegar cleaning. I did this several times over the month and the Chow received several baths. I must say, my house and dog were never so clean. A few other things... get all your non essentials off the floor for a while. You have to vaccuum and spray around everything 3 or 4 times at a minimum. I am into my first week with this second batch but there are not as many and I cought it early so hopefully I get it done again. My vet could not believe we killed them all and did this in one cycle when I took her in for a check up. Anyway, if you have questions let me know. Good luck.
 
jo white
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Whilst well written and positive, the article is over-enthusiastic. DE is not a wonder-exterminator and does have safety issues. Extolling its virtues without mentioning the possible issues is irresponsible.

A young flea placed in a jar with a sprinkling of DE took about 8 hours to die. The flea was noticeably writhing after about 1 hour, but was still jumping adequately to clear the mouth of the jar had the lid been missing and was physically able to escape the DE. Only in the latter stages of its long drawn-out demise was it not jumping. OK, it works, it kills them; but the question raised here is: if it takes 8 hours to kill a captive flea who is writhing around in the stuff, then how long will it take to kill a free flea who walks on some on the floor, on the dog, or wherever? I don't know, but I would guess that they would have plenty of time to do the business and lay eggs before kicking the bucket. Judging by the fleas who are exploring our DE-ed cat and appear completely healthy, this is accurate.

So then, what are you going to do to prevent the animal from spreading the eggs around? Follow it wherever it goes with a hoover?

DE will HELP minimise an infestation, but telling people that it is the absolute solution is little less propaganda than the big pharmaceutical companies telling you that unless you use poison, you will be swarmed by fleas. I completely advocate the natural methods of pest control, but please be more balanced and explain all the facts.

Also, if you are going to use DE directly on the animal, please be aware that it is dehydrating. That is, after all, the supposed reason it kills fleas - dehydrating them to death. We are advised to wear gloves when applying DE, there is a reason for this - to avoid dry skin on the hands. Imagine then the possible irritation on the animal's skin when it is applied and left on, over a long period of time (while you wait for DE to wipe out every last flea.) Wouldn't it be sore when the flea comb is passed through the fur? You might find that you have more problems than you bargained for if you end up with a pet skin-condition to deal with as well.

I am trying to avoid the use of poisons, but after 6 weeks of open warfare against a light infestation and new eggs appearing on the bedding every morning, I am starting to lose hope, and wondering whether this dose of DE & daily combing is really what the cat would choose if I could ask him.
 
Kiara Love
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We have had a somewhat serious flea infestation for about 5 months. First, my husband bought chemical flea carpet and upholstry powder and covered everything. Left it down for about a month. That didn't work. Second, my husband sprayed all floors and upholstry with a water and cat flea shampoo mix (because it killed fleas well on our cats). Didn't work. Third, I bought food grade DE from Amazon. We got into a cycle where we would apply a layer everywhere (even turning all the furniture over and coating the insides, and applying it under everything, inside closets, inside our shoes, just everywhere basically), and then waiting -- but after still being eaten alive we would apply more. In addition we did things like washing everything washable on the sanitary extra hot setting and putting anything porous into sealable bags, putting dustmite barrier cases on pillows, After doing this cycle for several months our home looked like it had snowed DE but we were still being attacked. After having DE down for months my 3 year old laid on the couch for a couple minutes and had 3 fleas (that we could see) attack him. I was so desperate I was sprinkling it in my bed sheets and blankets and, and coating my clothes on the inside. We also used a chemical yard spray outside. After trying the DE way for about 5 months we gave up and vaccummed it all up having to empty our vaccumme every few minutes and the vaccumme was making an abnormal high pitched whine. We gave our cats away to my mother hoping it would help the infestation. It didn't. For the past month we tried another method. We've been vaccumming often and using "Hot Shot's" so called "natural" flea killing spray. This isnt working either. After half a year of a losing battle I'm pissed and exhausted. What to I try now. My son and I are already very sick. I have cancer and autoimmune disease, we both have Lyme disease, Chronic Epstein Barr Virus, and heavy metal, lead, and arsenic poisoning. This flea stress is just too much added to an already crappy life. I'm afraid that with our already comprimised immune systems the fleas are going to make us sick or give us an illness. I've read other places they can give you bacteria and viruses. What should I do? My husband has been pressuring me the whole time to use an exterminator. But I'm trying to live more naturally and for my son's sake with his already damaged body. I've read other places about baking soda, salt, talcum powder, cottonseed meal, and vinegar. We are poor right now and I cant afford to waste any more money. What should I do?
 
Kory Watkins
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This is a great thread. Thanks for all the info. ;0)
 
Saigone Turro
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Hello. I recently bought a new puppy for the first time.

I am wondering if flea control (esp using diatomaceous earth) would also kill ticks, lice, etc?

They say ticks are dangerous, too as they can transmit Lyme disease. And flea can spread tapeworms. I hope my information is accurate.

I have seen so many discussions focused on fleas only.

By the way, I am in the Philippines. The flooring of our entire house is made of ceramic tiles; we don't have carpets.

Thank you very much.
 
Martin Pelletier
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Location: Montcerf-Lytton, Québec, Canada
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I tried to see if someone already mention that before but it is so a huge topic. Anyway it worth to write it anyway. For northern people, an easy way to get ride of almost any bugs is very simple. 1- close your water and heating 2- protect your furnitures 3- open all your windows in January or February for 4 days or a week and go live somewhere else during that time. 5- come back and clean. I think for flea you need like 24 celcius below zero for 4 days I think to kill all of them. If it is not cold enough where you live you might can rent somekind of air conditionner
 
Saigone Turro
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Martin Pelletier wrote:I tried to see if someone already mention that before but it is so a huge topic. Anyway it worth to write it anyway. For northern people, an easy way to get ride of almost any bugs is very simple. 1- close your water and heating 2- protect your furnitures 3- open all your windows in January or February for 4 days or a week and go live somewhere else during that time. 5- come back and clean. I think for flea you need like 24 celcius below zero for 4 days I think to kill all of them. If it is not cold enough where you live you might can rent somekind of air conditionner


Thank you, Sir for that info. I will try using DE and dust them in corners of the house. And also dust some on my pup's coat twice a week. I see my pup scratch once in a while; I think she is not highly infected, but prevention is good. These things are pretty new to me, as I am a first time pup/dog owner. So I try to research on things.
Our climate here is generally warm -- 79.9 °F to 82.9 °F. So many parasites that thrive on pets find that very favorable. Well, I guess I would have to learn as I go.
Thanks again.
 
Sam Bush
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I live in coastal region of Calf. by a creek and it has high humidity. My cats got flees a couple years ago and I tried DA on their fur and on my carpet floor's in my RV but I didn't wait long enough, weeks, and did not keep changing and cleaning things. So I just got the flee killer stuff one rubs in the back of the cat's necks and that cured the cats of their flees but not my RV. What I got was a powerful ozone generator kit for for $99. called "Basic Build 3500 mg/h Ozone Generator"and they have stronger ones that cost much less than elsewhere, just google it. This thing is so strong it caused my lungs to be irritated to breath it, I had to hold my breath when I set the timer till I got outside. Well supposedly it can destroy "all odors", molds, fungus's, germs, viruses and small bugs. I left it run for 8 hours on a timer in my closed up RV, then opened up all the windows to air it out. It had a slight smell for a few days which went away but it seemed to stop anymore flee bites I was getting with in a few more days and any other smells were destroyed too. I haven't had any more since then.
 
              
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I am on day 2 of finding a lot of fleas on my dogs. Didn't even know they had them. I did see scratching but I thought they had dry skin due to weather changes. ugh! I don't know how long we've had them unfortunately. They now have new hair cuts and have been bathed with Dawn dish det and dog shampoo (to get a good lather) and then rinsed in apple cider vinegar. I don't know where to get the DE quickly and I have 4 kids, 3 with asthma so I am skeptical of using it. I am confused about the heat/cold as well. Do I crank up the heat in the house or freeze everyone out of it? The only place in the house where there is carpet is on two small sets of stairs. I should mention that the dogs had dandruff looking something on them which I am thinking is some kind of left overs from eggs along with little pieces of black (flea poop?). I am already discouraged at the amount of work ahead of me along with regular work and Christmas on the horizon. I am not sure how to make a light trap, will any old lamp do? I would really appreciate some help. Thanks!
 
Sara Moore
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I stumbled upon your article when searching for the most effective flea bombs for the home. When we first noticed the fleas, they were on our 10 week old puppy, she was covered in them. We also have a 7 year old small dog and a 9 year old cat. When I first noticed the the fleas, I panicked, like your article says. I went out and spent $75 on products such as bath wash, collars and also Hartz brand monthly treatments. When none of this worked, I called our groomer. She said she would wash/dip/rid the fleas while I bombed the house. I took the animals to the groomer, went to Home Depot, bought a flea/bed bug bomb kit and did the house. Later on, I washed EVERYTHING. The next morning, I saw NOTHING. I was so relieved. It was the first time I had relief in a course of three weeks. But to my horror, the very NEXT morning those stubborn things came back. OR never left, whichever one. So I panicked again and called the Vet. She told me to come in and get the Capstar and a months dosing of Frontline Plus so I did that as well. The only thing is that I only treated the puppy with the Capstar and the Frontline because I don't and still haven't ever seen a flea on the other dog and the cat. I found three weak fleas on the puppy two days later but still nothing on the other pets. Please give me your take on Frontline and Capstar pills and if I should continue treating my puppy with this and also go back to the vet for the other animals as well. I am going to buy the Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) today also.
 
Pj Maddox
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SHAME, SHAME, SHAME! The poor little things.
They have such a short . hard life, and here you all want to murder them
 
Margaret Hefner
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Flea Treats are at their own place now, not EBay or Amazon, etc. Flea Treats . com.

and, they are really wonderful to be working with.

Thanks
M
 
Irene Hof
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I have two cats, in a humid environment (Netherlands).. right now it's still cold (between O-5 C), despite it being almost April already... but the little f-ers (fleas) have survived a harsh winter... on the cats.. also, Ive had to work so many hours, that I hired a cleaner, but I think she hasnt been careful enough, cause Ive had a bite or two some months ago as well. That's usually the sign that there are fleas in the house as well, they like me a lot, and im midly allergic to the bites, they get quite large and stay itchy for a long time (garlic pills seem to help a lot, they like me less, and therefore i get bitten less, and the bumps are smaller).
Right now, the problem is mainly on the cats, I don't get bitten, and the house gets cleaned well. Also, I have very little carpet, but there are some cracks in the wooden floor in some rooms, but I make an effort to get these cleaned. I clean the pet bedding daily.
I've ordered DE (expensive here, but its economical in use) and Ive been experimenting with how to apply, and dosage. I'm worried that if I apply to much, it dries the cats out too much. But right now, despite apply every few days, the DE did not seem to the job. I comb the cats before applying (but i dont always catch fleas, masters in escape) I applied with a puffer bottle with a small opening, deep in the coat on several places, and then rubbed it in, and cleaned the house, and put DE in hard to clean cracks. They're still scratching. Its not a serious infestation (yet), as I only find the occasional egg in the fur and some flea poo, and the occasional larvae. but Im worried what will happen when the temp runs up, the one week that it did, the flea population did the same. I'd like to be one step ahead. Ive sworn never to use toxins again (and I didnt) when my first cat had a neurological reaction (foaming around the mouth, running around in panic), and kept scratching where i applied (tried everything in the book). Anyways, it would be so nice for the cats if they could stop scratching! Hope you can give me some tips on the usage.
 
Judith Browning
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Hi, Irene, My experience is with outdoor animals...one dog and one cat and the cat has never had fleas. The dog had never had them either until she killed a woodchuck and I guess they jumped ship to her. We keep her dog house dusted with DE now. I think what helped the most at first though was frequent shampoos and combings into the soapy water. We bath her outdoors in a wheelbarrow and let the water sit a day or two to be sure the fleas are dead. We just used a cheap baby shampoo and flea comb...but, I have not tried to bath a cat in years...it did not go well...our dog loves her baths. The fleas that rode into the house on us actually took longer to get rid of...We vacuumed a lot after spreading DE and ran what we could through really soapy water in the washing machine. We didn't apply DE directly to our dog...I guess a cat would groom it off eventually.
 
Jana Dougherty
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I read this article about 6 weeks ago after fleas invaded our house. We allowed a stray dog to stay in our garage for a couple weeks while we searched for the owners and after that, both of our indoor cats had fleas. Not a whole lot, but enough to annoy me. Im not a big "poison" user either, so I researched flea control methods and learned about DE. I immediately purchased a 10 lb package of it along with a duster.

Here is a bit of info on our living situation to help paint a picture. We just moved to a new state and are borrowing my aunts vacation house for awhile until we can get settled into our own. Her water heater exploded and flooded the house about a year ago and most of the carpet has been removed. The ONLY carpet left in the house is about half a room full in one bedroom and a corner patch in another bedroom (why this was left like that, i have NO idea.) Both cats are strictly indoor cats, and never go outside. Since we only have our necessities here and the rest of our stuff is in storage, its not a problem for me to completely clear out the closets to vacuum.

Now, for the past 5 weeks in a row... EVERY WEEK... here is what I have done:

~ Removed ALL bedding, dirty laundry, pillows, stuffed animals from the house. Placed it all on the patio to be washed in hot water and brought in after that.

~ vacuumed every inch of the house; every baseboard, corner, windowsill, closet, every piece of fabric furniture, moved all furniture to vacuum thoroughly under and behind it. Emptied out the vacuum canister outside AND blew it out with an air compressor before bringing it back in and reattatching it.

~ put on a dust mask and dusted every inch of every surface in every room with Food Grade DE, thoroughly dusted both cats MULTIPLE TIMES A WEEK with DE.

~ Set up "flea traps" in the main problem rooms every night. (Bright desk lamp with bowls of hot soapy water... no bubbles on top) I have never caught more than one or two in each bowl, yet still find them all over the house throughout the rest of the day.


Here are my results: Not only has the flea problem not gone away, it has gotten worse! One of my daughters is getting eaten alive by these little buggers. Poor thing has bites all up her feet and shins and all along her lower back and stomach where her waistband lies and she scratches herself bloody frequently. She is 6. My son and I (who were the ones dusting everything with the DE) have both developed respiratory issues. I now have a persistent cough deep in my chest and he now has inflammed sinuses and sneezes all the time. The cats have also developed issues, one sneezes all the time and has goop in his eyes and the other always wheezes and coughs. The amount of fleas that we find on the cats has easily tripled since we started this whole thing and are still ranging in all sizes, from giant adult to tiny new hatchling. I pick off at least 3 dozen in one sitting. We have even gone so far as to shave the longer haired cat so we can get the fleas off by hand easier. He looks ridiculous. After week 3 I caved and started giving them flea baths once a week, then after they dried, i contnued dusting them with the DE. As Im sitting here typing this, im watching their necks come alive with the fleas crawling around on them. Its disgusting.

My only other options are to flea dip the cats and flea bomb the house (what we always did when I was a kid, and I survived just fine) or get rid of the cats, which will devestate my daughters. I am physically and mentally exhausted from these weekly cleaning projects (we are a family of 5... thats a lot of rooms and a LOT of laundry.) I dont know what else to do but I can tell you right now that I am DONE with DE.
 
Cris Bessette
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I don't mean to disagree with anyone that has had success with any of the organic methods mentioned on this thread, but they had little effect for me.

Obviously, vacuuming and keeping things clean so that they have less chance to breed is definitely good advice.
DE and soapy water dishes, concentrated citrus juice, etc. all can kill some fleas.

Regardless, when it got to the point that the dogs and I were in abject misery year after year trying to be "organic", I finally
consulted with my veternarian and he gave my dogs Comfortis
and the fleas were GONE. As in NO fleas, no where.

Not "slowed down" or "kept at bay" or "somewhat discouraged and moping" but DEAD and did not come back.
I've had the same results for the last two years all summer long.

I'm just giving my two cents, I've read through a number of desperate sounding posts in this thread and I really felt I should at least mention the option
for those that are at their rope's end.

As with ANY medication, adverse reactions are possible for a percentage of dogs, so read and learn, and consult with your veternarian.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I also struggled with the DE method, though I think it was because I didn't follow the proper steps to interrupt the flea cycle. I did not spread the DE thoroughly or thickly enough and did not vacuum or flea comb frequently enough. There is a 2-3 day egg cycle, if I recall, so it is an INTENSE and time consuming process to deal with. It almost ruined my vacuum - but I discovered that buying a second foam, washable filter (it's a Dyson) to have on hand was a huge help.

I did an experiment with putting fleas in a jar with DE on just one side of the jar. If they could travel without going through the DE, or if the DE was not thick enough, they survived. The pesky little buggers. The DE had to be quite thick and without any bare spots - 1/4" was best.

This was from fleas on my one aging cat in my condo. The cat never went outside, but we had visiting dogs who came in, or the fleas could have ridden in on the humans. Getting my cat healthier with raw food was a big part of what helped us.
 
Cal Burns
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We just moved to a property with several acres where deer and squirrels roam. Have had a huge problem with fleas the past several weeks. Keep our dog on a leash now when we take him out. Have applied DE to him and the indoor cat every day for weeks. Dog still have 15-20 a day we take off him. There is a bedroom we rarely go in that has them as well. Have spread DE and left in there a week then vaccuumed. Still had them. The DE doesn't seem to be making a big difference.
Think part of the problem is the amount of rain we have gotten this year.
The Comfortis product sounds good but is expensive at $200 for 6 mths. worth for 2 animals, plus the vet visits. Getting an electric fence to keep out the deer. Going to try essential oils and lavender next on the dog.
 
Martin Hart
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Wow, there certainly is a wide range of experiences on the subject. We recently had a little springtime outbreak of fleas, which we attribute to letting the neighbor's cat come visit a fair bit this last winter. I was about to do a web-search on non-toxic flea control, and fleas + 'diatomaceous' earth came to mind. Paul's article was at the top of the search, which made sense, as I'd read it a year or two before. I went and found some DE the next day. We'd both been scratching ourselves raw on our lower legs, and somewhat around the mid-rif, and were starting to see fleas jump onto us now and again. My wife put out flea traps immediately, and was catching a few a day. I don't think we were having a serious outrbreak compared to some of the descriptions I have read here, where people have a lot of animals, but it was very, very annoying. What's more, they were hitchhiking in my travel bag and were now in both of our homes and my car.

Anyhow, we dusted all of our floors with food-grade DE wearing disposable paper dust-masks, shaking it out if an herb shaker, (keeping it low to the ground to get less of it airborne) pretty thoroughly covering the carpets, including under the furniture and beds. By this point the neighbor's cat wasn't welcome to visit indoors, but when he'd pop by the patio, with the neighbor's permission, we'd dust Mr. Kitty and completely massage the DE into his fur. We dusted both the front and back decks, and the routes through the lawn where animals pass through the yard when it was dry outside. We laundered our linens and dusted them, and washed all the clothes in the house, dusting the shelving where they are kept. We also gave some DE to the neighbor for him to do the same to his place. We have a vacuum with a hepa-filter, and vacuumed every few days, then generously reapplied DE to the floors immediately afterward. I dusted inside my travel bag, and the carpets in my car. We also applied the DE to our legs, and shook some into our pant legs, shoes, etc. Within a few weeks, we were flea-free, and haven't had a recurrence since - this was a couple of months ago. So it sounds like it doesn't work for everyone, but it sure worked like a charm for us. We encountered no respiratory issues, whatsoever, perhaps by keeping the jar low while dusting with DE, and wearing a dust mask while doing so. Thanks Paul, for yet another handy-dandy, quick and non-toxic solution!
 
Christina Cox
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Hey Paul,
Great article! I am over-run with fleas. No, literally. Enter the grooming room and instantly there will be at least a dozen fleas on each of your legs. No lie. Here's what happened (prepare yourself for a saga)

Ok, so I lived in Colorado for 22 years. I show dogs. In 22 years, I had never even seen a flea. Had no idea what they looked like. Moved to Oklahoma. Have become very well acquainted with the little buggers. (get it? bug-gers? Killing myself over here) I have been great about keeping the dogs treated and bathed and bedding too. Not a flea in site! Yea me! Well, not so fast.

I have a bunch of cats - they are all treated for fleas, but here's the kicker. My stray, now tame and named, barn cats had about 15 kittens. I had the Momma's and babies my grooming room in the kennel, like a nursery. I didn't know about DE and I knew I couldn't treat the babies so I figured the Mommas were treated so we're good, right? WRONG!!! Holy jumping bugs batman! I am ashamed to admit that the fleas actually killed the weakest and littlest of the kittens. By the time I realized I had a BIG problem I had NO idea how big a problem I really had - and continue to have. The cats have all been treated and there is no longer an identifiable blood source in the room. Still fleas galore.

I had not read your article so I used a DE product with natural botanical oils called BUgRIght. I basically coated the entire room with it. Still completely over-run. I got desperate and used foggers every day for four days. No change. Literally, when I open the door the floor looks like it is moving!!! I am TOTALLY grossed out. HELP.

Ok - so here's the question. Is the BugRight stuff ok? Followed by; Have you ever heard of anyone using fine salt scattered on the floor to kill fleas? I really need to get a handle on this asap. Since I fogged, the fleas are not only NOT better in the Grooming Room, but they have migrated into the Shop where we store mowers, etc. It is basically a metal pole barn (30x40x12) that we have tools and storage. What is the blood source there?

HELP. Did I say that? Help. I need to get this under control to keep the damn things out of the kennel area. I have not seen ONE in there. Nor on the dogs. Thank GOD! That said, I am not able to use the grooming room and every time I go in there I am bombarded. A day or so later I have 30-40 bites. Major misery here.

So, lay it on me...what the heck do I do? 4 weeks is a long time to go without my grooming room. How on earth do I get the shop under control? Here is what I was wondering:
If I fill a couple of Frisbees with soapy water and leave the overhead lights will that help? Should I leave overhead lights on or off? Will the salt do anything? Right now, the floor and surfaces are coated - ie can't see the floor - in DE and BugRight. PS - BugRight says it is organic.

Ok, mighty one...I've rubbed the lamp and will anxiously await the Genie's reply!

Itching and scratching in Oklahoma,
Christina the Crazy Dog Lady
 
Rebekah Moore
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I heard then tried this . It works pretty well
It's Baking soda and water to wash yourself or pet, then rinse and then,
spray apple cider vinegar. Some of you probably already heard of this
but mentioned it anyways. We do this to our dog it works pretty well and even use it for myself..
 
J Cherni
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If you dont get any fleas in the pan doing the light thing at night, does that mean you dont have fleas inside?? I get a bunch off my dog but havent had any luck catching them in the pan/light thing.... Jill
 
Judith Browning
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paul wheaton wrote:This thread is for discussing this flea control article.



this is the original post in this very long thread...
 
Leila Rich
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As Judith says, this is a very long, old thread and you may not get the help you need if you post on it.
I suggest starting a new thread if you have specific questions about natural flea control.
 
rhianon O'Halloran
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Okay, Firstly, don't tell me people with hardwood floors don't get fleas..I have all hardwood and my flea trap has about 30 fleas. And don't tell me they don't bite people if cats are around..I have 2 cats but they bite me just as much. The back of the neck frontline wasn't working like it has i
n the past, both cats are indoor only. I got de and my apartment looks like someone murdered the Pillsbury Doughboy. And yes,
I already see a difference. I work 14 hour days and I don't have the energy or time to constantly vacuum. How long do I have to leave this white powder down? I know it shouldn't, but it is driving me nuts.
 
John Polk
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According to Wikipedia,
The flea life cycle begins when the female lays after feeding. Eggs are laid in batches of up to 20 or so, usually on the host itself, which means that the eggs can easily roll onto the ground. Because of this, areas where the host rests and sleeps become one of the primary habitats of eggs and developing fleas. The eggs take around two days to two weeks to hatch.[3]

Flea larvae emerge from the eggs to feed on any available organic material such as dead insects, feces, and vegetable matter. They are blind and avoid sunlight, keeping to dark places like sand, cracks and crevices, and bedding. Given an adequate supply of food, larvae should pupate and weave a silken cocoon within 1–2 weeks after 3 larval stages. After another week or two, the adult flea is fully developed and ready to emerge from the cocoon. They may however remain resting during this period until they receive a signal that a host is near - vibrations (including sound), heat, and carbon dioxide are all stimuli indicating the probable presence of a host.[3] Fleas are known to overwinter in the larval or pupal stages.


So, it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few month to complete the life cycle.
I have no idea if DE has any effect on the eggs (perhaps it could dry them out?). So,a minimum of several weeks would be needed to make a significant difference. Two to three months would probably be best for a complete treatment. Since larval/pupal stages can overwinter, a fresh treatment each spring would be in order.

If it is driving you batty, perhaps a compromise would be to vacuum it up every Sunday morning.
Enjoy your clean home all day, but then reapply it before you go to bed.

I know fleas effect different people differently. Growing up, we raised afghan hounds. My sister's legs looked like she had leprosy, while I was very rarely bitten.
 
paul wheaton
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Christina,

It has been many years since I wrote the article and somehow I seem to have built some fame and between getting caught up in heaps of projects and having so many people answer on my behalf that I have been extra negligent in the forums lately. Some of the staff have directed me to your post and asked me to pop in and try to help.

I lived in Colorado for 22 years. I show dogs. In 22 years, I had never even seen a flea. Had no idea what they looked like. Moved to Oklahoma. Have become very well acquainted with the little buggers.


I know that it is dry in Colorado. I'm guessing there is some humidity in Oklahoma?

I am ashamed to admit that the fleas actually killed the weakest and littlest of the kittens.


I think this would be the very first time I have ever heard of fleas being anything more than a nuisance. How are you sure that it was fleas?

Is the BugRight stuff ok?


I googled it and could not find it.

Have you ever heard of anyone using fine salt scattered on the floor to kill fleas?


Nope.

So, lay it on me...what the heck do I do? 4 weeks is a long time to go without my grooming room. How on earth do I get the shop under control?


Start off with a paper thin layer of DE on the floor. And leave it there. I suspect that with one day you will have killed 95% of your adult population with just this. Is it a non-carpeted room? The frisbee/flea-trap will help a little - but mostly you want to be able to measure your daily progress and eventually know that you are all done.

Does the room have a heater? How hot can you get the room? Do you have a dehumidifier?


 
paul wheaton
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J Cherni wrote:If you dont get any fleas in the pan doing the light thing at night, does that mean you dont have fleas inside?? I get a bunch off my dog but havent had any luck catching them in the pan/light thing.... Jill


It is possible that you have fleas but they are not ending up in the flea trap. I usually end up moving the flea trap around and trying lots of areas. And vacuum at night before going to bed - the vacuum gets them to pop out. Plus, there is the whole eggspupa thing - they could hole up for nine months and then pop out. The flea trap is not a perfect tool, but still a damn handy tool.
 
paul wheaton
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rhianon O'Halloran wrote:Okay, Firstly, don't tell me people with hardwood floors don't get fleas..


People with hardwood floors DO get fleas.


I have all hardwood and my flea trap has about 30 fleas. And don't tell me they don't bite people if cats are around..


Fleas will bite people if cats are around.


I have 2 cats but they bite me just as much. The back of the neck frontline wasn't working like it has i
n the past, both cats are indoor only. I got de and my apartment looks like someone murdered the Pillsbury Doughboy. And yes,
I already see a difference. I work 14 hour days and I don't have the energy or time to constantly vacuum. How long do I have to leave this white powder down? I know it shouldn't, but it is driving me nuts.


Yes, the white powder looks is not a great look.

Having hardwood floors will help a lot: less places for the fleas and eggs and larva to hide. You will want to keep DE along the edges and in hidden places for a month or so. I would do the flea trap thing to see how things are going. If you go two weeks without a flea in the flea trap, I would tidy away about 95% of the DE - leaving some in crevices and corners and the like.


 
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