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Help Us! Going on 4 Years with Resistant Fleas and No Pets!  RSS feed

 
                          
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Yes, I will admit that I have made MANY mistakes along the way, but I have been battling fleas for roughly 4 years and I'm extremely depressed. They have followed me from 5 moves.

I don't know if I should tell me whole story, because it VERY long, but I will try to provide some basic details. At this point I am a single mom, and am the primary host of these fleas. I just want my life back. I want to be able to spend more time with my daughter and less time vacuuming and stressing about when this will end. I'm desperate for someone to thoroughly help me, but I have no one.

My story begins in Mexico with my daughter's father, a few years before she was born. I helped him move to a "nicer" place, close to the beach. It turned out to be disgusting, full of roaches, and eventually I discovered fleas. I didn't know about exterminators in Mexico and he didn't either, so I looked online and found this site. We tried using DE. We put it everywhere and even slept on it, because I was certain the fleas were in the mattress and his couch. He had no rugs, only tile floors and no baseboards. I was only visiting on the weekends from San Diego, but we discussed my moving in. I thought maybe the DE had worked. We also vacuumed it up, put more down and repeated, but that was probably the extend of the vacuuming. We didn't have a good vacuum either. He found a different place to move to, and wanted to throw out his couch and mattress, but I thought the problem was solved.

The second place was very cold and he was only there a month before finding a nicer place. It was still cold outside, and I started moving in during November. It was just a studio, and there was no place for 2 mattresses. Instead of throwing his away, we just put mine on top of his.

A larger Apt across the hall became available and we moved once more. This apartment was not well-ventilated in terms of the W/D, so it got VERY humid quite easily. It was also hotter because it faced the sunset. This is when we started getting bit again, but mostly me. Fleas have always loved me, but never in my life have I dealt with a situation that wouldn't go away. Even in previous experiences, the fleas went away with one shot from an exterminator or in Seattle it was just weekly basic vacuuming. I wasn't prepared for this. They were now obviously in my mattress, in the couch and probably the rugs. We used DE on everything again and I bought a very expensive canister vacuum from Costco.  But still, we didn't vacuum regularly because we thought the issue was gone and only vacuumed once or twice and emptied the canister outside. The fleas would be gone for a month and then they'd be right back, attacking me in my sleep. In case you're wondering, we checked several times to verify it wasn't bedbugs and caught fleas on at least 3 separate occasions. I started panicking. So I bought a a fogger from a pet store, thinking that all my problems would be gone. It had the same result as the DE.... one month flea free, then they'd be back. We did this at least twice, with one fogger in each room. Again, minimal vacuuming. Prior to this flea problem, I was a very infrequent vacuumer. My place was very clean, but I vacuumed maybe once a month, if that. Since nothing was working, we finally agreed to throw out the couch and his mattress. We took my mattress and the area rugs to a place to have them all steam cleaned. We got the mattress back, but they stole the carpets. Good riddance I guess. I forgot to mention that I had a blow up bed that we slept on periodically as well. That definitely helped prevent bites. These things primarily only wanted to feed at dusk or night time. Although Other times were fair game as well. When my ex's kids came, he wrapped one in a blanket that had been on his couch (prior to tossing) and put him in my car. I realized shortly thereafter that my car has fleas. I would occasionally get bit on my feet, or if a jacket got left on the ground and I put it on, I'd end up with bites on my arms. I was horrified.

We found a much nicer, larger home to move to. I didn't yet have the money for a new bed, so when we got the mattress back from the steam cleaning, I ensured it was wrapped in thick painter's plastic and sealed off with duct tape.  We put DE in my car and vacuumed it up once or twice, but it didn't work. We also threw out all our pillows and blankets. I felt like our dryer wasn't doing a very good job and we suspected that one of the blenders had fleas in it. My ex always wore cuffed jeans and had a bad habit of wearing his shoes in bed, despite how much I yelled. Eventually we experienced fleas in the bed again. Either from the blankets we brought before tossing them, or from him transferring them from my car. It could have been my fault too I suppose. This time we were able to contact an exterminator and set up a once a month service. I suspected they may have gotten into my clothes and shoes from the last place because they were in the same room as the w/d when I kept hauling stuff in there to treat it. The exterminator said everything was natural and we didn't even have to leave the house. We peeled back the mattress and he treated that too. He was certain our problem would be gone. He said not to clean the floors, just let the spray do its work. Well, for those 3 months of treatment we were flea free. But as soon as we stopped, they came back.  In Mexico there was no heat and the buildings are concrete, so they get very cold. I think this led to the idea that the fleas were finally gone. I got pregnant during the end of winter, but when spring started to warm up, one morning I woke up with an absurd amount of flea bites and I wasn't going to risk it with my baby coming. It was time to toss the bed. We used the blow up mattress until I bought a new mattress, and kept it in its original plastic. This seemed to work, plus I had a different exterminator come out who once again said his product would kill everything, but that we needed to be out of the house for several hours. Again, minimal vacuuming because I had to rely on my ex since it was too heavy for me to lift while prgnent, and also because I didn't realize the importance of vacuuming. I was also fairly certain that my ex had spread the fleas around the house from sleeping in so many different spots. But the exterminators sprayed everything and I was moderately hopeful. When my daughter was born, we started having personal issues and I slept down on the new couch near the kitchen, with my baby close by. One morning I woke up with about 3 or 4 bites and panicked. I washed all of my and my daughter's stuff and moved us back upstairs. I was pumping around the clock, and doing everything on my own, so my opportunity to vacuum was nil. I was primarily practicing avoidance. My ex came back every once in awhile and I had purchased a carpet steam cleaner and made him steam the downstairs carpet and couch. I can't be certain he did it correctly.

I moved not too long after that and was concerned I would bring fleas with me in the area rugs I brought, but was confident that I would finally have an American company in San Diego take care of the issue once and for all. Months after moving back to San Diego with my daughter, I was sitting on the carpet and clearly got bit 2-3 times. I tried to treat it myself with salt and baking soda. I should also mention that I had a brand new bagged vacuum that I decided was better than using canisters. Again, I thought it would be a one shot deal. I left all of it down for 3 days, then vacuumed. Didn't work. I contacted my landlord and she had Dewey Pest Control come out. They gave me no instructions with their spraying except to say that I needed to vacuum more frequently than once a month. I bagged all of my clothes and shoes and dried them... which ruined all of my shoes. One of their techs actually recommended that. I started vacuuming once a week. The problem seemed to persist in that I'd get bit once a week at least. I was terrified of my baby getting bit, but luckily they seemed to only like me. I was fairly certain they were in my couch that I had brought, so I dumped it along with another couch. I bought a blow up and slept on that. The company treated my place about 3 times, but nothing was working. They actually started telling me that my place didn't have fleas and that they must be biting me from another location. I had a new car, donated my old one, and really wasn't leaving the house other than to go to work in an office. I felt like they just couldn't help me and my Manager was tired of hearing from me. I had both that pest control company and another one tell me I didn't have fleas. So I went to the dermatologist and got treated for folliculitis even though my intuition was telling me that was wrong. Sure enough, months later of still getting little bites every so often, I found a flea in the act of biting me on my leg in my kitchen. I tried to grab it but it hopped away. I immediately contacted my manager and the pest control company and they said they would have someone treat right away. The problem was that I was leaving for 3 months for Seattle for work. I vacuumed before we left and that was it. I stayed with family in Seattle and all the bites went away. I had no issues while I was there. Of course, it was also very cold. I contacted the pest control company to have a plan of attack for when I returned. They said they would treat twice before I came back, and I asked for further clarification on the vacuuming and the manager said once every 3 days would be fine. I did this religiously even though the vacuum makes me daughter cry and it's so time consuming. I went around the baseboards and everywhere I could reach with the nozzle and main vacuum. I started getting bit 1-2 times a day in the evening or at night. I Yelped a company with a great rating and they said they had never heard of the product Dewey was using. I decided to just pay out of pocket. They said they were 99.9% sure they could get rid of my problem with Precor and 2 other things, one of which is an IGR and another an adulticide. They said the product alone would work for months, but they recommended vacuuming every day for 2 weeks, focusing on the main areas, since he said my flea issue was minimal. I do have a light trap from Home Depot, which can caught a flea right before he arrived.  This was slightly more than 2 weeks ago that he thoroughly sprayed my place. It took 8 hours to dry, which is double what he told me, but his assistant said he wanted to really soak everything to make sure it works this time. I got bit once after that for sure, which they said to give it a few days. We have a follow up Appt on Monday for more spraying.

I don't know if it's my paranoia from dealing with this for so long, but I can't help feeling like they aren't gone. I have been daily vacuuming for more than 2 weeks. Tomorrow is supposed to be the last day, and then I'm going to once every 3 days until it's been a month and then i'm go to once a week. I have seen suspicious marks on both myself and my daughter. She had a tiny red pustule on her forehead the other day, but she sometimes gets those, so I tried to brush it off. She had a red mark on her arm, but it was gone by the next day. I have had a couple of red folicals that were slightly itchy or not itchy. Yesterday I had a somewhat large red dot that clearly looked like it could have been a bite, except it wasn't itchy. I usually think they're incredibly itchy.... but not always. Could it have been a mosquito? Doubtful. Mosquito bites tend to have a distinct shape.

I woke up at 12AM crying quietly so I wouldn't wake my daughter. I feel so alone in this battle. She hates the vacuuming. I hate it too. I want us to be able to play together after work, not torture her with the vacuum. I want to not be afraid of my Apt. I want to feel normal again instead of depressed.

I know I made A LOT of mistakes and now fear that I have created chemical-resistant fleas.

Even prayer has not seemed to help me. Please help me figure this out. I'' at the point where I would fly someone out here to take care of this for me just so my daughter and I can have a normal life!
 
Devin Lavign
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Please don't take this the wrong way, because I am honestly trying to help. However what I am going to say you might be resistant to hearing.

Are you sure this has been a constant same batch of fleas and not you bringing them in with you from outside?
Here is the reason I ask this. Humans are not a fleas' natural food. Fleas will die of malnutrition if they only have humans to eat off of exclusively. Between all the attempts to eradicate them and without a nature food source for them. You should not have any fleas unless something is bring in new generations again and again and again.

It honestly is sounding like something else is going on besides you having some super virulent breed of flea following you for years. And please don't take offense to this, but I would also suggest you consider if possibly some of this is psychosomatic from becoming so stressed over fleas that you are seeing/feeling them when they aren't even there.
 
                          
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I appreciate the response, but unfortunately it's not very helpful. I can tell you firsthand and from other people that fleas can and will live off of human blood. As scary as that may be to accept, it's true. I have had zero pets this entire time.

Also, fleas can move with you in your area rugs and furniture if you've never gotten rid of them. If I had known how critical persistent vacuuming was from the beginning, I probably wouldn't be in this mess.

Also, there's no way I'm just bribing them in on shoes or clothes. I went most of my life without dealing with fleas at all. When I told the exterminator he said without a doubt that it wasn't just coming in over and over again from outside since I have no pet.

I will agree that there's a high level of psychosis going on, but I've convinced myself so many times that the fleas were gone and that markings on my body were something else, only to wake up with huge welts after letting my guard down. As a result, I seem to have to opposite approach now. Every red welt could be a flea bite, but I try to just keep an eye on it and see if it changes. Also, I was terrified that I might bring the fleas to my parents' house when I stayed with them for 3 months. I only brought my and my daughter's clothes and luggage. I was so stressed out that i had become a traveling flea circus that a I got hives when we first got there. But despite my fears, we were bite free the whole time. It was such a stress reliever. I really didn't want to go back to my Apartment and face the fleas, but I knew I had to return to my job.

I know this situation sounds crazy. But when you've been bit as much as I have, you start to feel pretty desperate.
 
Judith Browning
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Do you suppose it could be bed bugs rather than fleas?  I think they might be more likely to move from place to place with you and hide in mattresses and bedding.  I think they leave a red welt where I thought a flea bite just itched?  Sounds truly difficult...hope someone can suggest something to help
 
Anne Miller
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I would make yourself some natural flea collars.  You could use handkerchiefs or scarves: Take the handkerchief and put on drops of Eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, citronella, lavender, or geranium. This will need to be done weekly. Tie one around your neck, wrists and ankles.

Sprinkle baking soda and salt on the floor before you vacuum in any dark area and let it sit for a while before vacuuming.

Make a citrus spray. Slice a lemon thinly, add it to a pint of water and heat to a boiling point. Let it sit overnight and in the morning, spray it onto areas where you suspect fleas hang out (beware of staining).  Do this once a month to combat fleas

Make a vinegar spray. In a spray bottle, add: 1/4 distilled white vinegar to 3/4 water. If you want, you can also add 1 tablespoon of dish soap to get rid of dirt. This mixture makes a safe cleaner for your counters and surfaces. It is also a very effective flea remover from all of your fabrics. Spray it once or twice a week on your fabrics and your flea problem will be over.

Set out soapy water. If fleas are a problem in a specific area of your home, fill a bowl with soapy water and set it out in the area. The fleas are trapped on top of the water due to the tension of the surface of the water. Change the water daily until there are no more fleas
 
Todd Parr
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Go to the Flea Busters site and buy the stuff they sell for fleas (orthoboric acid).  Spread it around according to the directions and within a week, you will be flea-free.
 
Judith Browning
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Todd Parr wrote:Go to the Flea Busters site and buy the stuff they sell for fleas (orthoboric acid).  Spread it around according to the directions and within a week, you will be flea-free.


in case someone (like me) doesn't recognize 'orthoboric acid'
"Boric acid, also called hydrogen borate, boracic acid, orthoboric acid and acidum boricum, is a weak, monobasic Lewis acid of boron often used as an antiseptic, insecticide, flame retardant, neutron absorber, or precursor to other chemical compounds.
Boric acid - Wikipedia"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boric_acid

I wonder if what they sell at Flea Busters contains only boric acid? ...sounds like it is powdered very fine.....
http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/Fleabusters-Rx-for-Fleas-Plus-Powder/154001.aspx
 
Mike Turner
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If you use a dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity in the house below 50%,then the flea larvae dehydrate  and the fleas aren't able to reproduce.
 
Todd Parr
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Judith Browning wrote:

I wonder if what they sell at Flea Busters contains only boric acid? ...sounds like it is powdered very fine.....
http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/Fleabusters-Rx-for-Fleas-Plus-Powder/154001.aspx


It has other "inert ingredients".  I don't know what those are.  It is a very, very fine powder.  I used it when my cats had a very bad infestation when I lived in WA and it got rid of them in no time, and they never returned.  I lived in that house for 5 or 6 years after treating it and never had a problem again.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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You can also (in addition to the other methods mentioned) create flea traps with nightlights and pans of water.
Fleas will jump towards a light and fall into the pan of water and drown. This gets rid of adults so they can't mate and lay new eggs.

DE will work, just takes time for it to work and it needs to be food grade (finer than the DE they sell for swimming pool filters).

 
Angelika Maier
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I just rewrote the description of my pennyroyal plant and it works against fleas, however take care as the OIL of pennyroyal is toxic if taken internally, especially for toddlers.
 
Libbie Hawker
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I second the suggestion to be sure it's not bed bugs first, since they are treated differently from fleas. Waking up with welts really does seem more of a bed bug situation, as does the non-itchy welts.

If it is definitely fleas (if you can see them during the day, jumping around, and they look like fleas), here is what you need to know about the flea lifecycle.

First, it's true that fleas prefer warmer-blooded animals for their food. Both cats and dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, so fleas prefer them. But if you're the nearest warm-blooded thing, they'll still suck your blood. You're convenient.

Fleas live on the ground, in dark, protected places, and only jump on a warm animal to feed. They lay the majority of their eggs on the ground, and even the eggs that are laid on an animal fall off, to hatch and pupate on the ground. Fleas prefer carpet or rugs, since the fibers mimic their natural environment (grass), but they will also live in furniture upholstery and even in the cracks of bare hardwood floors if need be.

Here's the key to defeating fleas for good: a quality vacuum. You'll want to invest in a good one that can stand up to a lot of use (you'll see why below...) and get one with enough attachments that you can thoroughly vacuum all the cracks where your floors meet the walls, in the nooks and crannies of your couch, etc. Since you've already tried vacuuming every 3 days or so, I suspect maybe your vacuum wasn't as powerful as it could be, and wasn't sucking up enough adult fleas.

When adult fleas go through a vacuum's mechanical parts, the abuse puts enough nicks and dings in their waxy outer shell that they quickly dehydrate and die. Vacuuming is a death sentence for adult fleas.

Vacuuming won't kill the pupae, whose little cocoons are cemented down. The pupae are also impervious to every known flea-killing substance, as long as they remain in their cocoons. So if you treat with a company's product and you see your adult population vanish, you'll soon see new adults as the pupae hatch out.

*But* it's vibration that signals fleas to go through their various life stages. Vibration (in nature, the vibration of an animal walking nearby) tells the eggs to hatch into larvae. Vibration tells the larvae to pupate. Vibration speeds development of the pupa into the adult form and signals the new adult flea to hatch out of its cocoon, and now the newly hatched fleas are vulnerable to all the various ways you can kill them.

So if you vacuum regularly (every 2-3 days), you will soon speed the whole flea population along its life cycle, ushering them all into the adult stage, where you can kill them with the vacuum.

It can take up to two or three weeks of regular vacuuming to get them all. Keep at it! Be extremely thorough with your vacuuming. Lift up and move area rugs (that salt-and-pepper stuff you see underneath them is flea eggs!). Vacuum the cushions of your furniture, and get an attachment to get way down in the cracks, too. Anything you can't vacuum easily (towels, bedding) you can wash with hot water or put in black garbage bags, tie shut and set out in the sun for a couple of days to overheat the fleas. Beat/shake them before you bring them back inside.

you can do it! I've conquered a couple different *really bad* flea infestations using just a vacuum. It's really too bad your daughter has such a hard time with the vacuum...have ear plugs worked at all? Do you have a friend who can take her to play outside while you vacuum? It really is the best way I know of to kill fleas...
 
r ranson
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We had some pretty nasty fleas last year.  No pets, no rugs, nothing one would normally associate with fleas.  Yet, the fleas kept biting us and I was catching and killing maybe one an hour (during the day) and getting woken up a couple of times each night.  We couldn't figure out where they were coming from. 

It turns out WE were bringing them into the house from outside.  There were two main sources of fleas.  1) our vehicle which as rugs in it and 2) the lawn.  The fleas would hop on us as we walked across the lawn and come into the house via our clothing. 

Long, long ago, when the earth was young, we had a massive flea experience when we moved into a house that used to host several dogs.  You could see the fleas jumping in the carpet.  We made the mistake of using chemical treatment and exterminator.  This was very good for about a month.  But then, the fleas were worse than ever and nothing we or the exterminator did could get rid of the infestation.  It turns out that we weren't the first ones to use poisons on the fleas, but ours was the tipping point and we had created chemical resistant super-fleas!  It was nasty! 

So this time, we didn't want to risk having an exterminator in.  Instead, I followed the advice in this article for both house and car.  After three days the fleas were greatly reduced.  By two weeks, they were gone.  I never expected flea removal to be so painless and affordable.  I wish we had known about this the first time.  I don't know if it would work so quickly on chemical resistant fleas, but since it's not something they can build up an immunity to, it might. 
 
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