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DIY Methods to Prevent Fleas

During the warmest months of the year, it’s flea season in Buffalo. Between the itching they cause for your pet, the diseases they can carry, and the distress an infestation can cause, it’s best to be prepared to take action.

These are a few things you can do to prevent fleas from infesting your Buffalo home. Learn to defend yourself and your pets by preventing flea problems before they happen.

Identify Fleas

As adults, fleas are between 1/16 and 1/8 inch long — pretty small, but large enough to see without a microscope. Their thin body allows them to walk between hairs. In coloration, they are usually a dark reddish-brown, especially after feeding.

Although flea eggs aren’t easy to spot, they’re always present in a flea-infested area. These tiny, white flecks can be mistaken as dandruff or oval grains of salt.

Larvae emerge from the egg. These white, wormlike creatures usually eat dried blood that adult fleas leave behind after a blood meal — super gross!

Once it’s old enough, a flea larva finds a hiding spot to spin a cocoon where it will develop into a pupa and eventually become an adult. Before the adult emerges, it waits for a host to come near and can wait for months in a dormant state until conditions are right.

Any effective flea treatment has to sink deep enough into grass or carpet to reach pupae, eggs, and larvae, or else the infestation will restart itself. Since the flea life cycle only takes about 15-20 days to grow from egg to adult, it’s crucial to interrupt their life cycle to end the infestation.

Help Get Rid of Fleas with DIY Flea Control

Fleas can cause flea allergy dermatitis and spread diseases such as tapeworm, Cat Scratch Disease, Flea-borne Typhus, and, though not as common, the bubonic plague. When you’re in an area where fleas thrive, preventing infestations could also mean guarding against these diseases as well.

Flea infestations usually don’t happen in one place, so treating them means you’ll have to be thorough in order to target both adults and juveniles. Only about 5% of the flea population are adults, according to estimations. The rest of the 95% are probably eggs, larvae, and pupae littering the ground. That means your treatments have to target both adult and juvenile fleas and be thorough enough to catch the smallest egg and the most well-hidden pupae cocoon.

Fleas can congregate in the yard, on pets, and in the carpet, so these three places are where the fight begins. These tips will help you cover each of the most common flea-problem areas and do what’s necessary to fight them off.

1.Yard Maintenance

Most of the time, fleas will show up on your lawn before they end up on your carpet. By making your outdoor property as uncomfortable for fleas as possible will help flea treatment and prevention.

Common Problem Areas

Fleas like to hang out in shady, humid, warm spots that are also away from the heat of the sun. Your dog or cat’s favorite resting spots are likely to attract fleas also. While you perform these maintenance steps for your entire yard, take extra care around common problem areas as well.

Preventative Yard keeping

  • Mow the Grass
  • Short grass leaves fewer places where fleas feel warm, humid, and safe from predators, like birds. The grass near the foundation is especially important because it tends to accumulate humidity and provide shade.

    If you find fleas in the grass, contain the fleas by bagging the clippings instead of composting them. Tie off the bag and dispose of the fleas to keep them from getting out.

  • Clean Up Yard Debris
  • Since they're so small, anything can help fleas shelter and stay alive. Fallen fruit, branches, or leaves all make great hiding places, so gather and dispose of these from your yard frequently. Remove other kinds of debris as well, like yard equipment, lawn toys, hardware, parked vehicles or trailers, and other items.

  • OTC Flea Treatment Products for Outdoors
  • Many outdoor flea products out there will be sufficient for a variety of yard infestations. Products may come in a flea spray, dust, or granule. Before you use a product, check whether it is EPA-approved. Always read product labels thoroughly and follow the usage directions exactly.

  • Are Beneficial Nematodes Right for You?
  • This option may be one you want to consider if you choose not to use standard flea control products.

    With the evolution of natural remedies to pest problems, many could be effective and even beneficial. According to research and in theory, since beneficial nematodes are a type of roundworm that only preys on fleas and other arthropods, they should be able to get rid of a flea problem in the yard within about two months or so. Research also shows that they don’t cause a problem for pets, plants, or people.

    Approach this option with caution, though. Talk to your local gardening center about nematodes and whether they are right for you, and be completely certain that you found the right species of nematodes before purchasing. Keep in mind that most flea treatment products will interfere and most likely kill nematodes along with fleas, so you may have to choose between standard flea products and nematodes.

Discourage Wildlife

Wildlife is often the main way fleas find their way on your property. Fleas attach themselves to feral cats or dogs, opossums, rats or mice, squirrels, and raccoons and fall onto your property when the animal sneaks into your yard.

Usually, wildlife comes to your yard in order to find food and shelter, so these steps will help you keep your yard unattractive to wildlife pests. Effective efforts to keep wildlife away reduce your risk of a flea infestation in your yard. Without food, shelter, or another incentive to stick around your house, wild animals are likely to leave and, hopefully, take their fleas with them.

  • Trim Shrubs and Trees
  • Trim tall bushes and trees that could help a squirrel, raccoon, or opossum to climb on your roof. As appropriate for your situation, keep all the plants on your property thin enough to discourage animals from taking shelter in them.

  • Animal-proof Your Garbage Cans
  • Raccoons and rodents love garbage and will tip over your bins to steal food whenever they can. Ideally, your garbage bin should have a secure lid, but you can also use bungee cords or rope to lock it. Even if it’s knocked over, the bin should remain firmly closed.

  • Remove Debris to Avoid Attracting Wildlife
  • Debris cleanup around your yard is so important to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that we included it yet again. Wild animals will take advantage of fallen branches, fruits, vegetables, leaves, and other debris as food or shelter.

    It’s absolutely essential that everything is removed from your yard, including vehicles, trailers, old refrigerators, yard equipment, hardware, old tires, and all other debris. Less debris means fewer visits from wildlife, which means smaller chances for fleas to get in your yard.

  • Don’t Leave Food Outside
  • Animals love food as much as we do, and most of them can smell it from a long distance away. Pet food especially attracts wildlife because it usually contains complete nutrition, including proteins. Rats, raccoons, and other animals will go to great lengths to finish off your pet’s food or water bowl, so always clean these up and take them inside at night.

    After a picnic, barbecue, or party in the yard, it can be tempting to think that wildlife will “clean up” any scraps you might have missed during cleanup. Unfortunately, as innocent as that thought might seem, it risks the many problems wildlife cause to your home, including fleas.

  • Motion-detection Sprinkler Systems
  • A good automatic sprinkler system can be an excellent and affordable defense against wildlife invaders, including bold animals like raccoons. Many of these systems are simple to set up. You can simply connect a hose, choose the range you’d like to protect, and allow the system to do the work for you.

2. Treat and Prevent Fleas on Your Pets

These simple tasks can help both to maintain your pet’s overall health and prevent future flea problems. If you have definitely seen fleas on your pet, perform these tasks more frequently according to your situation. Consult your veterinarian with specific questions and concerns.

  • Wash Your Pet’s Bedding
  • Use hot water and dry on high heat at least once per week. You’ll want to do it more often — even every other day when possible — when your pet has many fleas. If your pet is sensitive to soap or if frequently washing the bedding causes problems, you can try washing without soap.

    Alternatively, you can also take the bedding to the dry cleaner’s. But make sure the cleaning chemicals used are pet-friendly.

    Wash other areas where your pet rests regularly, like crates, kennels, furniture, and other areas of the house.

  • Regular Bathing
  • Even if your pet can’t be bathed often, make sure you’re bathing them as often as needed. Consult your veterinarian about flea shampoo for pets that contains permethrin, a pesticide developed from an extract of chrysanthemum flowers.

  • Wash Pet Toys
  • Use hot water and grease-fighting soap to effectively kill fleas on your pet’s toys. Any plush items should also be cleaned as appropriate. Either use hot soapy water or dry clean. If you know your pet has fleas, you might consider getting rid of plush toys completely.

  • Flea Combs
  • Developed specifically to help you find fleas in your pet’s fur, flea combs are an effective way to check your pet for fleas. Run the comb all over the body, but especially through the fur near the neck and around the tail where fleas tend to stay. Combs with finer tines tend to be more effective.

  • Shave Your Pet
  • Consider cutting your pet’s hair short during the warmer months when fleas are most active. Shorter fur will both make spotting fleas easier and make bathing and flea combing less difficult.

  • OTC Flea and Tick Treatments for Pets
  • There are many treatment products for pets available that could be right for you. Some treatments are taken orally, as drops on the skin, or as sprays. Some flea collars work well, but others could cause irritation. Talk to your veterinarian about the best treatments for your pet.

  • Vet Checkups
  • Particularly in areas that are at high risk of flea infestations, talk to your veterinarian and get checkups regularly. Your vet may have suggestions for flea treatments that work for your pet, or they may want to prescribe a stronger tick and flea medication that works best for your situation.

    3. Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home

    In addition to the items above, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent fleas from invading your home.

    Housekeeping for Flea Prevention

    You might already be doing some of these things, but these have a twist to them that you might not have thought to do before. These steps will help you prevent fleas before you see fleas in the house. These tasks will help you prevent and identify fleas before a major infestation.

    It can be embarrassing to have fleas, but just remember that fleas don’t infest houses because they’re dirty. For food and shelter, fleas will infest the cleanest, most sanitary places if they can. Cleaning simply drives them out of their hiding spots and makes your home less appealing to them.

    • Vacuum Regularly
    • Once a week, vacuum the carpet for any fallen flea eggs, larvae, or pupae. Get rid of the vacuum bag afterward by freezing it overnight first to kill any fleas. Place the vacuum contents in a sealed plastic freezer bag and freeze.

    • Wash All Bedding, Including Yours and Your Pet’s
    • Since this step is so important, we thought it should also be mentioned more than once. At least once per week, use hot water in the wash cycle and dry everything on high heat.

    • Perform a Home Inspection
    • Even if you haven’t seen any fleas, it’s a good idea to check common places they might be hiding, just to make sure. Common flea hiding places include cracks under baseboards, under furniture, in upholstery, on or under cushions, in pet bedding, and anywhere your pet rests.

      The most common signs you’ll see are live fleas and flea larvae, which look like little white worms. You could also see eggs and pupae cocoons, but these are harder to find.

      Also, watch your pet for unusual scratching, which is usually the first sign of an infestation.

    When Fleas Are Already in the House …

    If you know you already have fleas in the house, these steps will help you keep the flea population under control. This will require deep cleanings at least 2 times a week, although 4 times per week is better.

    Again, the purpose of cleaning is to destroy eggs, kill larvae, and keep adults from reproducing. Cleaning will make fleas uncomfortable, so the more you clean, the greater chance you have of getting rid of them.

    Keep in mind that almost all flea infestations in a home are close to impossible to eradicate without calling the professionals. Do your research and find a reliable company that provides excellent service. Even if you get professional treatments, these tips will help get rid of fleas. Fox’s Pest Pros may give you more tips you can do to aid the treatment process.

    Deep Vacuum Cleaning

    The vacuum is your go-to tool for anti-flea treatments. It’s crucial to vacuum at least 3-4 times a week for fleas. Move furniture to get underneath, remove cushions, thoroughly vacuum the upholstery. Vacuum your mattress also, in the cracks and gaps, the mattress lining, and in the bed frame.

    Pay special attention to areas your pet likes to rest as well as cracks and crevices. Fleas don’t like high-traffic areas and are small enough to fit in tiny gaps, so be thorough when you vacuum.

    Steam and Shampoo the Carpet

    While vacuuming is effective to get rid of adult fleas, larvae, and many eggs, most pupae and some eggs are likely to escape. The best way to get rid of them on your own is by steaming and shampooing the carpet.

    This step is important to do even if you choose to use a flea treatment. A deep clean will allow the flea product to sink more deeply into the carpet and kill anything the heat and soap might have missed.

    OTC Indoor Flea Treatments

    If you decide not to call the professionals, many products out there will work well against fleas. Effective treatments may include ingredients like pyrethrins and pyrethroids, natural pesticides developed from chrysanthemum flower extract.

    Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) are other active ingredients that prevent eggs from hatching properly, stop larvae development, and keep adult fleas from reproducing. Methoprene and pyriproxyfen act like insect hormones and are considered very safe. In fact, some flea treatments for pets include IGRs and can be applied directly to the pet’s skin.

    Always check the label of these products to make sure it’s registered with the EPA. The registration number will be located on the label, usually next to the list of active ingredients. Some may also include a CAS number in addition to the registration number.

    You can look up an EPA registration number for more information about the pesticide.

    Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth

    Diatomaceous earth is a flour-like powder that is organic, safe for children and pets, and is very effective against insects like fleas. Although it is safe, make sure to use it according to directions on the label. Light sprinkles are all that’s necessary, and be very careful not to inhale it since it can damage your lungs.

    You can sprinkle a light amount of this under furniture, along the baseboards, in your pet’s bed, beneath cushions, and into cracks and crevices in wooden floors.

    Looking to the Professionals

    Once you’ve followed all these steps and nothing seems to work, it’s time to call the professionals. All these efforts will help professional treatments tremendously, so no effort is wasted.

    When you call Fox, you can rest assured that your flea infestation is taken care of. Our Pest Pros will work with you and make sure the job is done right the first time.

    All our products efficiently work for you so that you can focus on what matters most.

    Fox Pest Control.

    No Bugs. Simply Better

    Posted on July 28, 2020.

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