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After a light winter, you can expect to have a heavy flea season.

I am all in favor of using a non-toxic approach as much as possible. However, if you have a large infestation in your house and yard, you may have to use the traditional approach to get rid of all the fleas before they drive you crazy. It is possible to do it the non-toxic way, but it can take months of diligence to do it.

Here are my suggestions for getting rid of fleas once and for all.

Main Points:

  • You must treat ALL areas – pets, home, yard, kennel or garage where your pets live. Otherwise fleas will come back.
  • Don’t just kill the fleas, control population with insect growth regulators (IGR) (flea birth control) (Archer and Frontline Plus).
  • Pick the best treatment for your pet’s age and health – shampoo, essential oil repellant, spot on treatment, other…
  • Pick the best treatment for your home – vacuum carpet & furniture, wash beds, non-toxic essential oil flea repellant spray treatments, toxic pesticides (foggers, sprays, powders), must use insect growth regulator (NyGuard Plus or Archer) to stop the cycle.
  • Pick the best treatment for your yard – non-toxic Diatomaceous Earth, or insecticide like Conquer (emulsifiable concentrate), or a highly toxic pesticide that loses effectiveness but is still toxic to you and your pets. Must use insect growth regulators (IGR like Archer) out here too. Make sure to keep the grass long for a few days after spraying and keep the trimmings for a few weeks otherwise you lose the effect.
  • To keep fleas from coming over from neighbors yard, use IGR before flea season starts and once during peak flea season.
  • To kill ticks – spray up about 3 feet on vertical surfaces, including trees, house siding, fencing and bushes. Ticks drop down on your pets and fleas jump up from the ground. If you have a lot of ticks you may have to treat twice as most insecticides only kill ticks in the juvenile stages.
  • Fleas develop mostly in shaded areas. So focus on the cooler, shaded spots, sand boxes, dirt crawlspaces under house, under shrubs and anywhere your pet may rest or sleep.
  • Ease your pets itching, scratching and chewing on themselves (allergic reaction to fleas) – bath with gentle shampoo, soothing sprays…

(Resource: http://flea-smart.com)

 

NON-TOXIC Approach:

  • Treat all areas at the same time.
    1. Treat yard first
    2. Treat house
    3. Treat pet last
  • Treat yard with Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) and non-toxic IGR (Archer). Be sure to get in all the cool, shaded areas and wherever your pet goes.
  • Clean house thoroughly – vacuum everything (carpet, tile, furniture, and anything fleas can fall into and lay eggs) and throw away the vacuum bag or empty outside in trashcan. Wash pet beds and wash your bed comforter and sheets if your pet sleeps on your bed. Then cover furniture with sheets until pets are treated to catch any new fleas or eggs that fall off your pet before you can get them off. You can even cover your bed spread or comforter with a top sheet to catch any new fleas to make pickup in a few days easier.
  • Treat carpet and furniture with non-toxic IGR to keep any leftover eggs from reproducing, thus stopping the cycle. If you skip this step, you should vacuum house, wash beds/sheets and bathe/spray pet every 2 weeks. It can take 2-3 months to get rid of all the fleas at all stages.
  • Bath your dog with shampoo (not Dawn dish washing liquid). A non-toxic flea shampoo that has a residual essential oil smell is best. But any shampoo that you leave on for 5 minutes will drown the fleas.
  • Spray your dog with non-toxic essential oil flea repellent (sold in a spray). Or apply non-toxic essential oil spot on treatment to keep the fleas off your pet.
  • Wait 2 days and then remove the sheets or covers you have on your furniture and wash them to kill any fleas that dropped off.
  • After you removed the sheet covers, vacuum the main traffic areas and anywhere your pet goes that wasn’t covered just to make sure you got all the fleas. Empty the vacuum bag again.
  • Spray or wipe your pet down with non-toxic essential oil flea repellent before going to dog park, neighbors yard, out for walk in wooded areas or anywhere you know there are flea. If you forget before you leave, bathe or wipe down pet when you get home.
  • Check for fleas with flea comb regularly to make sure your pet hasn’t picked one up from somewhere.

 

Traditional Approach:

  • Treat all areas at the same time.
    1. Treat yard first
    2. Treat house, garage and kennel after yard
    3. Treat pet last
  • Treat yard with insecticide that contains esfenvalerate, an emulsifiable concentrate (Conquer), combined with IGR (Archer). Be sure to get in all the cool, shaded areas and wherever your pet goes.
  • Treat house, garage & kennel – spray carpet and furniture with flea treatment that kills adult fleas and has IGR (NyGuard Plus Floor & Furniture Spray). Stay off carpet and furniture until dry. Keep pets off carpet and furniture until dry. If house, garage or kennel is completely infested, you may need to use a fogger. Make sure it has IGR.
  • Clean house thoroughly – vacuum everything (carpet, tile, furniture, and anything fleas can fall into and lay eggs) and throw away the vacuum bag or empty outside in trashcan. Wash pet beds and wash your bed comforter and sheets if your pet sleeps on your bed.
  • Bath your dog with shampoo (not Dawn dish washing liquid). A flea shampoo is best. But any shampoo that you leave on for 5 minutes will drown the fleas.
  • Apply spot-on treatment with IRG (methoprene) (Frontline Plus). If your spot-on treatment does not have IGR you will never get rid of all the fleas and you will be stuck buying monthly (toxic) spot-on treatments forever.
  • After 1 month, use non-toxic essential oil flea repellent spray/wipe on your pet before going to dog park, neighbors yard, out for walk in wooded areas or anywhere you know there are flea. If you forget before you leave, bathe or wipe down pet when you get home.
  • Check for fleas with flea comb regularly to make sure your pet hasn’t picked one up from somewhere.

 

Notes about how long everything lasts and how often to repeat.

  • IGR lasts 6-7 months. Apply in early spring or as soon as temperature gets above 70 degrees. Or right after you mow the lawn for the first time in the spring. Then again during peak flea season in June or July.
  • Non-Toxic Flea Shampoo with Essential Oils will repel fleas for up to a week. This kills whatever fleas are on your pet at the time, but will not be effective in repelling fleas for longer than a week. Since it’s not recommended to bath your dog every week, use shampoo before a complete flea treatment (home, yard and pet).
  • Non-Toxic Essential Oil Spray will repel fleas for a few days, up to a week. If you can’t smell it, it’s not repelling fleas. Use every time your pet goes into potentially flea infested areas.
  • Non-Toxic Essential Oil Spot-On treatment will repel fleas for 3-4 weeks. If you can’t smell it, it’s not repelling fleas. Reapply every 3-4 weeks if you are taking your dog out regularly.
  • Traditional Flea Shampoo will kill the fleas on the dog and repel new fleas for up to a week.
  • Monthly spot-on treatments like Frontline Plus last for a month and must be reapplied every month to kill the fleas that jump on the pet. If the rest of the environment (home, kennel and yard) has been treated with an IGR then there should be no fleas and you can skip the following monthly treatments for as long as there are no fleas in the area.
  • Diatomaceous Earth keeps killing fleas for as long as the dust is there. Once the dust is gone, it’s not killing fleas. It all depends on how much dust you put out at one time.

 

Referenced Home Products:

NyGuard Plus Floor and Furniture Spray – kills fleas and other insects plus IGR

 

Referenced Yard Products:

Archer (non-toxic IGR) – mix 1 ounce with a gallon of water, or add 1 ounce to hose end sprayer. Stay off the yard until it dries.

Conquer (insecticide) – mix 2 ounces with 1 ounce IGR to hose sprayer. Stay off the yard until it dries.