• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Flea infestation, please help.

 
Justin Singel
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
New homeowner here. Bought the house in October, and immediately had renters, life long friends move in. Now I've lived in this house for 15 years, had numerous dogs and cats never once had a flea problem ever. So I didn't think it a bad deal to let my tenants living in the separate floor of the house have one. One day they told me their dog had fleas, I said well have you been putting medicine on her, and they said no. I said well you are going to have to do that and make sure the fleas are gone. Now I'm a bad landlord, I trusted these people being life long friends. So when they told met he fleas were gone, I was like alright. Fast-forward about 3 months and they tell me I need to leave the house as they are going to be fleabombing for a weekend. I'm freaking out over here, as you can imagine. So three months later, they decide they are going to break lease and move out. They tell me the flea bombs killed all the fleas and there is no problem, again I trust them.

So anyway, they have all their stuff moved out. Now this second half of the house is a basement, but its a full basement, full kitchen, bath, 2 bedrooms, the works. There are three carpeted rooms, and three concrete rooms. I vacuumed an a hour a day for a week, and then every few days after that. I bombed, multiple times. I put baking soda, borax, and diatomaceous earth down on every inch of the basement. I sprayed with Ortho Flea killer on all the cracks and crevices. I bought (after all else failed) 4 cans of Virbac Knockout E.S. and sprayed every single square inch of that basement. I have been fighting these for three months now! I don't understand how they are still alive. They are worse in the rooms WITHOUT carpet which I don't understand. Not to mention that no one except me goes down there, and only to fight fleas. I never go down there for any other reason. It seems as there should be nothing for them to get blood from. There is nothing down there, just bare floors. There are also no animals in the house.

Any advice would be great.
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
Posts: 815
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
46
forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is there any way they could be gaining access to your home from outdoors? One of the life stage of fleas is in soil. I actually found out on accident (was treating for fire ants) that beneficial nematodes sprayed across my yard greatly reduced the number of fleas that our indoor/outdoor cats carried in.

Paul has a whole article entirely about dealing with fleas http://richsoil.com/flea-control.jsp if there is anything there you haven't tried, try it now.

One of the big things there is the comment about eggs sometimes surviving as long as 8 months. Most solutions have a much harder time impacting the eggs.

Something that we did after my sister brought home bed bugs from the hospital, to deal with bed bugs and their possible eggs in wooden furniture was to use rubbing alcohol (same as you'd pour on a cut) to saturate into all the crevices. This broke through the protective coatings that kept the bugs and eggs from dehydrating. We didn't see any signs of the bugs after the first week, it's been years at this point. I think most people consider bed bugs to be one of the most challenging pests, so maybe this could be a dire straights solution for fleas.
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3480
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh noses.  Fleas suck!

My first thought is that the toxic stuff might have made the fleas resistant to pesticides.  A bit like how super-bugs are made from antibiotics.  Personally I don't use that stuff anymore because it stopped being effective, and then I learned what nasty stuff is in it, so now I have even less reason to try it.  But I understand that desperate times call for desperate measures.

However, we did have a massive flea infection this year.  I tried this approach and the flea population decreased noticeably after the first day.  It took about three weeks.  What I like about this, other than being non-toxic, is that it kills 100% of the fleas it comes in contact with.  Leaving no survivors means no resistance.

I didn't try any of the other things like borax, so I don't know much about them.

The other thing I did was to find the source of the fleas into the house.  We have no pets, so it was probably us humans.  But I've seen houses with rat and mice problems get some major flea issues, so it might be an idea to check for rodents living in or near the house.  Bushes next to the house encourage rats, and the fleas might be coming in under the door?  I don't know.  Probably not, but it is a possibility. 
 
Justin Singel
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:Oh noses.  Fleas suck!

My first thought is that the toxic stuff might have made the fleas resistant to pesticides.  A bit like how super-bugs are made from antibiotics.  Personally I don't use that stuff anymore because it stopped being effective, and then I learned what nasty stuff is in it, so now I have even less reason to try it.  But I understand that desperate times call for desperate measures.

However, we did have a massive flea infection this year.  I tried this approach and the flea population decreased noticeably after the first day.  It took about three weeks.  What I like about this, other than being non-toxic, is that it kills 100% of the fleas it comes in contact with.  Leaving no survivors means no resistance.

I didn't try any of the other things like borax, so I don't know much about them.

The other thing I did was to find the source of the fleas into the house.  We have no pets, so it was probably us humans.  But I've seen houses with rat and mice problems get some major flea issues, so it might be an idea to check for rodents living in or near the house.  Bushes next to the house encourage rats, and the fleas might be coming in under the door?  I don't know.  Probably not, but it is a possibility. 


Thanks for the reply! As I said in my post though, I did try diatomaceous earth. I also noticed a decrease in population after everything I had done, but still there. In smaller numbers, but enough to be a problem.
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3480
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With the DE, it took vacuuming every three days like the article said.  I noticed, the time I left it for five days, the fleas grew in numbers.  So I went back to every three days and they seem to have gone.

I wonder if the fleas are coming into the house somehow.  Could it be that you kill off one population then more come in? 
 
Justin Singel
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:With the DE, it took vacuuming every three days like the article said.  I noticed, the time I left it for five days, the fleas grew in numbers.  So I went back to every three days and they seem to have gone.

I wonder if the fleas are coming into the house somehow.  Could it be that you kill off one population then more come in? 
\

It is possible, but I wouldn't see from where. I have been in this house for so many years and never had this problem. I've combed every inch of that basement and havn't seen  where they could be coming in from. I was vacuuming every day, maybe that was too much?
 
Justin Singel
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Casie Becker wrote:Is there any way they could be gaining access to your home from outdoors? One of the life stage of fleas is in soil. I actually found out on accident (was treating for fire ants) that beneficial nematodes sprayed across my yard greatly reduced the number of fleas that our indoor/outdoor cats carried in.

Paul has a whole article entirely about dealing with fleas http://richsoil.com/flea-control.jsp if there is anything there you haven't tried, try it now.

One of the big things there is the comment about eggs sometimes surviving as long as 8 months. Most solutions have a much harder time impacting the eggs.

Something that we did after my sister brought home bed bugs from the hospital, to deal with bed bugs and their possible eggs in wooden furniture was to use rubbing alcohol (same as you'd pour on a cut) to saturate into all the crevices. This broke through the protective coatings that kept the bugs and eggs from dehydrating. We didn't see any signs of the bugs after the first week, it's been years at this point. I think most people consider bed bugs to be one of the most challenging pests, so maybe this could be a dire straights solution for fleas.


A lot of that I have already tried, or doesn't pertain to me. The fleas, oddly enough are not in the carpeted rooms (anymore). After chemical treatments, and borax/DE treatments, shampooing and vacuuming they seem to be gone. I tried the heat lamps, they work but don't stop the problem. There is no bedding, furniture, clothing, or pets. I DID use poison though, and I DID use flea bombs, and while they didn't stop the problem, they definitely turned it from an infestation of "holy crap 20 fleas just jumped on me as soon as I stepped into the room", to "holy crap 5 fleas jumped on me in the span of 10 minutes in this room".
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
Posts: 815
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
46
forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think I over explained the rubbing alcohol because we had other items that we used other methods to deinfest. The point of using the rubbing alcohol was that it could saturate into cracks much smaller than anything we could see, and worked on the eggs at the same time.

I was thinking specifically that maybe you had areas where you couldn't get a good coverage of diatomaceous earth to stick where you could successful treat hiding eggs and fleas with a sprayed liquid. Along the corners where the cement floors and base boards meet, for instance.

Something I do think, concerning why you have fleas only in the cement rooms now, is that the poisons you've already sprayed have probably saturated all the carpet fibers. Even though you're not currently spraying, those residues continue to kill fleas in the carpet. Unfortunately this only increases the urgency of eliminating the survivors before they breed even more fleas that successfully survive those conditions. Spraying more poison now will probably have little affect because these are already the survivors.
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 573
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have had flea problems twice, at two different locations.  Both times it was very bad.  I used Fleabusters and they were gone in a couple days and I never saw another flea as long as I lived at either place.
 
Miranda Converse
Posts: 239
7
bee chicken goat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A couple things;
When you vacuumed, did you immediately bring the vacuum outside and dispose of the contents? Fleas are hardy little brats and will survive even a thorough vacuuming. Best thing to do is to empty the contents into a bag (if you have a bagless vacuum) tied shut tightly and right into the trash. You could even douse the contents in some alcohol to have some added security.

Did you vacuum the non-carpeted areas? May seem silly but every flea you can remove is one less to reproduce.

Have you tried salt? When I moved into my house I was lucky enough to inherit an existing flea infestation along with it. How I handled it was to spread copious amounts of salt (probably 3-4lbs total) on all of the carpets and let it sit for a couple days. The salt is supposed to dehydrate them. Then I just vacuumed as often as possible.  I also treated my cats at the same time.

I also think part of what help get rid of my flea problem was my chickens. Our flea problem was probably worse in our yard than in our house. They would jump on you while walking through the grass. Shortly after our chickens were let free range, the fleas disappeared.

One other thing maybe worth looking into would be Neem oil. I haven't used it for fleas but I've read that it can be used to control them on animals. The stuff stinks to high hell though.
 
Justin Singel
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Miranda Converse wrote:A couple things;
When you vacuumed, did you immediately bring the vacuum outside and dispose of the contents? Fleas are hardy little brats and will survive even a thorough vacuuming. Best thing to do is to empty the contents into a bag (if you have a bagless vacuum) tied shut tightly and right into the trash. You could even douse the contents in some alcohol to have some added security.

Did you vacuum the non-carpeted areas? May seem silly but every flea you can remove is one less to reproduce.

Have you tried salt? When I moved into my house I was lucky enough to inherit an existing flea infestation along with it. How I handled it was to spread copious amounts of salt (probably 3-4lbs total) on all of the carpets and let it sit for a couple days. The salt is supposed to dehydrate them. Then I just vacuumed as often as possible.  I also treated my cats at the same time.

I also think part of what help get rid of my flea problem was my chickens. Our flea problem was probably worse in our yard than in our house. They would jump on you while walking through the grass. Shortly after our chickens were let free range, the fleas disappeared.

One other thing maybe worth looking into would be Neem oil. I haven't used it for fleas but I've read that it can be used to control them on animals. The stuff stinks to high hell though.


Yes, every time I vaccumed about every half hour I walked to the ditch behind my house and dumped the contents of the vacuum out out there. Never tried salt. Guess thats something else I can do though.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 249
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
get some cedar and neem oils. mix in a tsp. each into a sprayer w/ 2c warm water. spray liberally everywhere. fleas and eggs are killed and repelled by both those oils. i use that mix in the house every couple weeks and directly on the dogs. peppermint , basil, citronella . garlic and rosemary oils work good too but the cedar/ neem seems to work best. good luck!
 
Justin Singel
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
steve bossie wrote:get some cedar and neem oils. mix in a tsp. each into a sprayer w/ 2c warm water. spray liberally everywhere. fleas and eggs are killed by both those oils. i use that mix in the house every couple weeks and directly on the dogs. peppermint , basil, citronella . garlic and rosemary oils work good too but the cedar/ neem seems to work best. good luck!


Gonna do this and salt after getting back from my trip to the state park, thanks.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 249
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
also, if you have skunks or raccoons hanging around in your yard, they bring the fleas back. when i see signs that the skunks have been digging grubs on my lawn i live trap them right away and release them in the woods about 5 miles away. only then can i control the fleas. if not they just keep jumping on the cats and back in the house!
 
Justin Singel
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
steve bossie wrote:also, if you have skunks or raccoons hanging around in your yard, they bring the fleas back. when i see signs that the skunks have been digging grubs on my lawn i live trap them right away and release them in the woods about 5 miles away. only then can i control the fleas. if not they just keep jumping on the cats and back in the house!


I haven't seen any critters at all this year, usually we have raccoons around, but nothing this year for some reason. Will keep an eye out and set traps if i have to.
 
Michael Diggers
Posts: 1
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How I handled these critters may help: Take a large flat pan, planter pot base, or large very swallow bowl that is about 18" in diameter or square and place in the middle of the kitchen floor. It needs to hold water, about an inch deep will work. Once the water is in the pan put a squirt of dish washing liquid in the water to break the surface tension. Hang a night light about 12 to 15 inches above the pan. The night light needs a pyramid-shaped shade made from aluminum foil and coat hangers to cut down on the amount of light in the room and so that when the fleas jump toward the light they will hit the shade and fall into the water where they will die. Without the dish washing liquid in the water, the fleas can jump across the water's surface. The shade edge needs to be about three or four inches above the pan and the diameter about two to three inches larger than the pan. Open all room doors and make sure all other lights are off. You want the fleas to be drawn to the night light, not another light source. Results are amazing. Can be left in place until you see all of those critters are dead.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic