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desperate for flea advice: tried everything!!!

 
Amanda Reykdal
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We just moved into a house infested with fleas. Literally infested. Its in Lynnwood, WA 98037. We don't know what to do anymore. We have bombed, we have salted, we have dichotomous earthed, we have steam cleaned the carpets three times, we have steam bleached the carpets, we have used every spray, and every powder out there and we still are infested. We even purchased a large lavender plant and put it right out the main door, still fleas jump on us outside. My bf made countless flea traps with the lights and soapy water. I mean he made BIG ones even, out of the covers of big storage tubs, so many that they almost covered the entire floor of our room. Not sure if this is a different bread of fleas, they are darker in color. (My b'f has this theory that they are rat fleas, not sure though) The homeowners did get chickens and a rooster which resulted in an abundance of rats, but those were all killed, and they were kept in the furthest corner of the yard. They did, however, get rid of all the chickens and the rooster. I think they might still have a duck or two though. My children get the worst of the bites, right now, they are both sleeping (my boyfriend and I can't sleep anymore) and they are both bug sprayed, but I am walking over to them, and one has 4 fleas on him, the other I just picked off 3. Its a split level house, upstairs mostly hardwood, has one dog. They are the homeowners. They rent rooms downstairs (that's us) The only thing that separates the up and down is a lattice wall. They claim no flea problem upstairs. Downstairs is mostly carpet, and at basement level. Two cats down here, one doesn't ever actually come inside. The other has lost a significant amount of weight and has worms (that our cat-obsessed roommate has literally picked out of his behind) The cat is pretty much blind. When my roommate is at work we have bathed the cat, trimmed its fur, flea collar, hell, I even lightly vacuumed the thing. The fleas seem as though they may not be as many on the cat that does come inside, but he still itches like crazy. Fleas jump on us from the moment we walk in the door. They almost seem worse in our room, where no animals go!!! I keep washing ALL of our clothes and bedding over and over and over and I pretty much keep them sealed in large plastic bags. We barely even use blankets anymore, just cuz we figure if the fleas are still here, so must be their eggs and larvae, which all stages of the damn rotten fleas gross me out bad...My kids have bites covering their entire body no joke. My bf was told by the foremen that he didn't want him to come back to work until the flea problem is resolved cuz he doesn't want his cats getting them. Now that's embarrassing. I don't know what to do. Please by the grace of GOD please help.
 
John Elliott
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I have no flea problems. I do seem to have ants everywhere outside (and none have been so rude as to intrude inside). Ants along the sidewalk, ants across the driveway, ants in the hugelbeds, ant in the fig tree. Occasionally, they even leave a fig or two for me. I also have garden spiders everywhere. Two years ago, I befriended a few garden spiders and they wove egg cases in the citrus trees. Last spring I had a large number of little garden spiders hatching out and setting up new homes. More friends wove even more egg cases. This year, it seems everywhere I turn outside, there is not just one, but there are multiple garden spiders hanging in webs. But I have no fleas.

Cleaning out your house is a must, but if you have a moderate, humid climate, the supply of fleas outside that can invade may just be too much. Ants will eat fleas and their eggs. Spiders webs will catch jumping fleas. I think what you need to do is to draft some insect armies and declare war on the fleas. See what you can do to attract ants to the outside areas of your property. A greasy chicken bone or an overripe fig on my property gets swarmed in no time.

Then again, there is this post. You may want to collect up some fleas, put them in a bottle that has tiny pinholes in the bottom, and lay this where ground dwelling nematodes can come to find the flea carcasses. Brew up a good batch of nematodes that like to parasitize the fleas. A week or two is all that is necessary given their short life cycle. Then spread your dead flea soup, full of hungry nematode babies all over your garden. Soon the population explosion of flea-eating nematodes will crash the population of fleas.
 
Amanda Reykdal
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john,
I have a very important question...if there is an overpopulation of fleas, would they kill an ant infestation? Or does it not work that way? Only ants kill fleas? They are a great deal larger than a flea...and I am not sure fleas are intelligent enough to plan a group attack...I am asking because, ironically enough, there were ants here before...actually lots of ants before. Outside the house, inside the house...mostly in the kitchen on the floor and on the floor in the bathroom, but this year in particular, there is a HUGE decrease in ants. They could even be found on the carpet before...mostly on a nibble of food dropped by mistake, but there were a LOT of them, Smaller ants like maybe the sugar ones, not big carpenter ones...(in case you're wondering, the homeowners are actually my friends parents so before actually moving in here, we were frequent visitors)
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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First of all you need to get your heads around the flea life cycle and try to attack as many stages of it as you can.

Live jumping fleas are only a small portion of the total population ( eggs, larvae etc...) and your flea traps will do nothing at all about the rest of them.

Live fleas - i differ from some of the advice you will read here. An occassional treatment using a targeted flea medication on your pets is almost essential when getting to grips with a serious infestation. The treatments that last for a month are good and will give your suffering pets a bit of a break. It sounds like your cat is seriously anaemic from all the flea bites. Second, you can use a knockdown pill that kills all live fleas on the animal, but only lasts 24 hours. We use this when moving our dog between homes - we don't want to bring a flea problem with us.

With the month long dose your animals will act like flea vacuums - a flea will jump on them, bite them once a die before having a chance to lay eggs.

Eggs, Larvae etc... - an adult flea needs to have a fresh blood feed before laying eggs. Larvae on the other hand can grow and thrive on sealed roms with just 'flea dirt' (dried blood excreted by adult fleas) to live on.excluding pets from a room does not prevent eggs hatching and reaching maturity, and when they do they will be ravenous! This is why you are so aware of the ones in your bedroom where there are no pets - the larvae are emerging into adults and you are the only food they can reach.

The best way to attack this is to hoover, literally hundreds of times... I would start by removing any lose fabrics (rugs, cushions etc...) and wash them on a hot wash. Dry them then seal them in a bin bag until the flea problem is resolved. Then start a hoovering regimen - to begin with you want to do every room twice a day. You are aiming to remove eggs, larvae and any flea dirt. After a week you can probably cut it down to once per day. After a month you can maybe do three times a week.

This is a lot of hoovering, so anything you can do to streamline it will help. Remove obstacles from rooms, make sure you can get around skirting boards etc...

Animal bedding areas
Identify where the animals like to rest and sleep. These are where they will shed thousands of eggs. As well as hoovering these you could selectively spray these areas with the stuff that prevents flea eggs hatching.

Regarding foggers etc... They are known to be pretty ineffective, as fleas and flea larvae are really good at burrowing down into nooks and crannies. DE many people advocate using DE, but i've also heard many stories about people trying it and failing. Flea traps seem only useful for diagnosing the problem - they can only trap a small proportion of the live adult fleas.

Time
You need to accept that this will take months to fully resolve. Your house has every stage of the flea life cycle in it and no one treatment will be able to clear it. Even if you do the above religiously for 6 months you will still have occassional fleas emerging, although in ever decreasing numbers.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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How long ago did the rats leave?

Have you tried buying a flea collar, cutting it into pieces with scissors and placing the bits in various bedding (yours and the animals)?

Have you tried spinosad? It's a new variant of BT that apparently is effective on fleas:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinosad

flea-eating nematodes seem like a good strategy to try out too as previously mentioned.

 
John Elliott
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Amanda Reykdal wrote:john,
I have a very important question...if there is an overpopulation of fleas, would they kill an ant infestation? Or does it not work that way? Only ants kill fleas? They are a great deal larger than a flea...and I am not sure fleas are intelligent enough to plan a group attack...I am asking because, ironically enough, there were ants here before...actually lots of ants before. Outside the house, inside the house...mostly in the kitchen on the floor and on the floor in the bathroom, but this year in particular, there is a HUGE decrease in ants. They could even be found on the carpet before...mostly on a nibble of food dropped by mistake, but there were a LOT of them, Smaller ants like maybe the sugar ones, not big carpenter ones...(in case you're wondering, the homeowners are actually my friends parents so before actually moving in here, we were frequent visitors)


Maybe the huge decrease in ants is the cause of the huge increase in fleas? I am diligent about ants that try to invade inside, but when they are outside, they are doing a lot of good. I'm not talking about fire ants, which I only occasionally see, and they don't seem to stick around. Maybe my place is so well colonized by the other, smaller sugar loving ants, that both fire ants and fleas can't compete.

Fleas need mammals as food sources. They aren't built to attack an ant they come across. If a flea runs into an ant, I think the ant latches on with its jaws and drags the flea back to her (ants, like bees, are female) friends as lunch.

If you have a flea infested rug, sprinkle it with cookie crumbs and leave it out where the ants can find it. I will bet that within a week, there will not be a single flea egg (or any other part of their lifecycle) in the rug. Then it is a simple task to shake the ants out before you bring it back in.
 
Renate Howard
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Borax is supposed to kill the larvae and help dry out the eggs. In your place, I'd mix borax with diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it all over the floors. Leave it for an hour or longer if it doesn't bother you (but you don't want your kids inhaling it or ingesting the borax). Then you can vacuum it up. You can also add borax to your wash to help kill flea eggs.

Fleas can be horrible and they seem to accumulate in basements.
 
Alder Burns
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Once years ago I rid my bedroom of a serious flea infestation resulting from previous tenants keeping a dog shut in the room. I went out and cut down every tansy and marigold plant I could find....which amounted to quite a bit, perhaps a wheelbarrowful of "thresh" for a small (say 12 foot square) room, and put it all over the floor, under and atop the mattress, in the closet, atop the furniture, in the windowsill...etc.; shut the room up on a hot summer day, and went off to work. Came home....no fleas. Not one. And they never came back. I left the stuff laying around till it started to dry and crumble in a few days and hauled it out.
 
Narnia Johnson
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Location: NH
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It sounds like your cat is unhealthy and is attracting the fleas. The cat has low vibrational energy and something needs to be done. It sounds like a health hazard. A sick animal will not be able to resist them and they will have food and breeding ground. If there were no animals to feed on, the fleas would go away.

Is it humid in your area? The fleas will not dry out if it is. The dehumidifier idea sounds like it would work together with everything else. If no dehumidifier but there is a wood stove, dry it out once a week - that will halp too. I have not had fleas for 20 years and just now have them for the first time since then. I used to use salt on the floor (left overnight) and then vacuumed floors and furniture daily. Make sure there is salt in the vacuum bag to dry them out there. The animals have to be washed with Bronner's or Sal Suds with essential oils added. I used to use a phenomenal flea powder made in Australia with eucalyptus and tea tree oil. Not sold any more. Tea tree oil is toxic to cats so be careful there.

Keep all sick animals out of your living space and see if the owners can get them some help. I would move if the people are not doing anything about it.

I know DE works for many things but I am a little wary of using it. I would use less, not more. I haven't had to live with chronic fleas, just be diligent and they should be gone in a few weeks. The cold weather will take care of them outside.

Garlic works to repel them too - I use garlic powder from the grocery store, 99 cents for a large container. Good stuff for all animals and people too. Give daily doses to your animals during an infestation and every now and then for a few days as a preventative.

Apple cider vinegar is good for the skin and is supposed to repel them. We put it into their drinking water from time to time. It's especially good for hot spots on dogs, heals skin rapidly and reduces itching. Try a rinse or a spray for the pets and the house, try adding essential oils as seem appropriate. You will have to judge if it's too humid and if more moisture would just cause more problems.

Homeopathy can help for the pets too - sometimes I learn a lot from what's going on with the critters! If it's not a good situation, if the energy of the whole place is low, it will wear on your health and your family too. Take care.





 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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you want to use boric acid, not borax.

If you have a biodiesel supplier near you, you can get it cheaper.

get the finest micron you can, if only granules at the biodiesel guy, then buy the roach powder.

you need citronella plants, not lavender.

lemon grass, cantnips, chrysanthemums. Thyme, oregano , and the mints help too.

block any windows cut into doors, so bugs don't come in when you open doors at night.


you also want to get a sprayer, mix boric with a little liquid soap in it, and some cinnamon oil, and spray it up underneath porches , into plumbing holes in the walls, and around any animal housing.

good luck !
 
Rob Young
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This guy has many organic ways to do a variety of things (pest control).
http://www.youtube.com/user/OrganicPestControl
 
Seth Wetmore
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Fleas as with most insects breathe through there exoskeletal structure, not using lungs as we do. If these ports get clogged with oil ( any vegatable oil will do) they die. The cycle will continue when the next generation comes to maturity. So food gade diomatatious earth could help. Look into how to safely handle this product. I am leary for I have not done enough of my own research. From what I do know is is silica, And silica should be handled with caution. Any glass blowers out there know about silica, I know a bit and do not wish to miss represent it here.

Continued prevention is also critical. The industrial world does use mechacical removal with vacuums. Just remember vacuums SUCK. LOL
Vacuums are a maintenace measure. They must be used constantly to be effective. Breaking the life cycle two or three times in a row is far more effective.
Grass near the home may be to tall, three inches or lower reduces the risk of the fleas being near the home. Fleas use the grass to get water, and get on to animals. It is a jungle out there.

Carpets. If nothing else works REMOVE THE CARPETS. This is a bit extreme. Guess what It works. The furniture that is cloth should also be treated. Have a great day
 
Justin Wood
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This was my wife's post to fleas from her blog. I hope it can help someone. http://myabundantliving.com/fleas-no-more/

Fleas No More!

Furry friends bringing fleas into your home? Fleas, bed bugs, ticks, lice… Just mentioning those words make me itch all over!

Living in the country, I’ve gotten accustomed to occasionally pulling a tick off one of my kids when they come in from their outdoor adventures. However, I was not prepared to learn that when our oldest daughter moved out for college with her cat, the cat left fleas not only in her room, but in MY BED!!! (That goofy cat used to run in there whenever I left my bedroom door open.)

It was one of those times when motherhood felt very “real” and less warm, fuzzy, and Martha Stewart like! I didn’t know how to solve this very irritating problem which was biting my legs when I tried to sleep at night and leaving terrible little red bite marks on our sweet baby girl. So I did a little “lazy” research – I called some friends to find out if they had ever had fleas in their houses… And if they did, how they resolved the problem.

I found out two main things: 1. Fleas in the house is a really common problem. (Sigh of relief. Somehow I felt more “normal” when I learned my friends had the same problem and lived through it!!) Upon further research, I found that flea control is an issue for LOTS of people. It’s estimated to be the biggest expense for American pet owners. I also learned that the “cat flea” is the most common offender. 2. Most people just use toxic junk to “bomb” their houses – DIY and professionally.

Now I had a new problem. I am ardently set against intentionally putting toxins in my children’s environments. Call me a conspiracy nut, but I think on our best day, we live in an extremely toxic world. Look at all the chemicals we ingest because of the science experiments happening in our food supply daily, the toxins that we bring into our homes in carpet, paint, and furniture, the pollution in the air from our vehicles, factories… I digress.

Suffice it to say, I think there is a lot I cannot control that negatively impacts my family’s health. I’ll be danged if I am going to choose to put chemicals that are created to kill (even on an insect level) in my home for my children to breathe, play in, and let’s be real – lick!

So, I began the second level of research: How can you treat your home for fleas – without toxins? Here is the solution we found. (My dear husband gets credit for being an active part of this solution.)

First, we laundered all the linens in both bedrooms. We washed and dried them all on high heat. We put Abundant Living’s Natural diatomaceous earth Powder with Calcium Bentonite in all the crevices and seams of the mattresses. We also sprinkled it on and rubbed it into the mattresses. (This was the first time that I learned how really effective this powder is at getting unwanted odors – cat + urine – out of furniture.) Then we did a thorough vacuuming of all the floors, and tried to get the nooks and crannies where critters like to hide.

I felt really good that all the adult fleas had been killed or were dying from their DE exposure. But the reality of flea eggs and larvae haunted me! That’s when my husband told me he had found that peppermint essential oil could kill fleas. So, he filled a spray bottle with water, added a liberal amount of drops of peppermint oil and became a crazy sprayer man.

Every day for two weeks he sprayed our beds – linens, pillows, and people if they were in the way! At the end of two weeks (the amount of time it would have taken for larvae to grow, or new eggs to hatch) we washed all the linens again and did another deep vacuuming. And that was it. They were gone. No more itchy legs at night. No more red bites on my little one. All gone. And not a single toxin did we bring into our home. I felt VICTORIOUS! We had fleas no more!

One last note, I am compelled to share: According to Texas A & M, Americans spend over $9 BILLION a year on flea control! I certainly don’t want to put anyone out of business, but maybe we should spread the word that people can treat their homes AND their pets with Abundant Living’s Natural diatomaceous earth Powder with Calcium Bentonite and some peppermint oil for just a few bucks!
 
Casie Becker
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I see that this is marketed as a pepper spray, but nothing in their advertising suggests that's it's anything but an industrial grade poison.

I have good and nontoxic control of occasional fleas on my indoor/outdoor cat (who sleeps in my bed) by using beneficial nematodes on the yard and a flea comb on the cat.
 
Brie Robb
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Location: Central Oklahoma area
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The brand name TKO (stands for Texas knock out) pure orange oil. Do a search for it, it kills adults larvae and eggs on contact,  it kills ticks all stages it kills wasp it knocks horse flys out of the air.  ...LOVE THIS STUFF ! ! !....
 
R Ranson
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I found this method of flea control very helpful.

flea control in a nutshell:

1) don't panic!

Fleas are nothing more than a minor nuisance. Panic can lead to poisons for you and profits for the panic mongers.

2) keep a paper thin layer of diatomaceous earth wherever a vacuum cannot reach

3) vacuum once every three days, tossing a little diatomaceous earth on the floor first

4) if you have a pet:

flea comb every three days (every day if fleas are found)

wash bedding every three days

5) do not use toxic gick!

No flea bombs, no boric acid, no borate powders (and this definitely includes the fleabusters product), no flea collars, no pyrethrins.


The article goes into a lot more detail.  It's well worth a read.
 
Travis Johnson
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I did not read all the links, but I always had good luck with cedar products for repelling fleas when I had dogs. Chips, boughs, oil...fleas seemed to hate them as I never had an issue.
 
Joy Oasis
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Amanda Reykdal wrote:We just moved into a house infested with fleas. 

I wonder, how did it go. What did you choose to do and how it worked?
 
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