With the weather warming up, flea eggs are hatching. You may have thought you got them all, but a flea egg can live for years in your carpet waiting for the right moment to hatch. The little blood suckers can sense when a suitable warm blooded animal moves in.
Did you know that the flea responds to light and dark? So when a flea jumps on you, it’s because you walked past and changed the amount of light. Fleas have been known to jump at shadows as well.
So why should you use natural products instead of the chemical solutions? Fleas are like cockroaches in that they adapt to their environment, and even can become immune to the chemicals.
Types of Fleas
Over 2,000 species of fleas have been described worldwide, including:
- Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
- Dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
- Human flea (Pulex irritans)
- Northern rat flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus)
- Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
There are four stages to a flea’s life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and imago (adult).
Natural Flea Control
The majority of fleas live in the environment rather than on your pet, so for every one flea you might find on your animal, there will be about 30 others around the house.
So natural flea control needs to have two prongs. The first is getting rid of fleas on your pets and the second is to get rid of fleas in your home.
For your pet, there are flea combs that can be used. The flea gets trapped in the comb tines and fur. You can then throw the whole shebang into the toilet and flush the problem away. You can create natural flea dips out of fresh rosemary or lavender. You can also put a cut lemon in boiling water, and then let it steep overnight. Then put this in a spray bottle and use it to regularly spritz your pet especially around the head and behind the ears being careful of the eyes.
You can also purchase natural treatments made from citrus or chrysanthemums that repel fleas.
Additional repellents are eucalyptus, cedar, clove and citronella. And keep your pet’s bedding laundered regularly.
To get rid of fleas in the home, sprinkle Borax, diatomaceous earth, or salt on all carpets and really rub it in. Let it sit overnight and then vacuum it up. The boric acid dissolves the shells. Salt dehydrates the eggs and larvae. And the diatomaceous earth cuts the flea’s legs.
A word of note: Diatomaceous earth for pest control should not be confused with “Pool Grade” diatomaceous earth, which is treated with heat, causing the formerly amorphous silicon dioxide to assume crystalline form which is not effective for insect pest control.
Repeat this every three days for nine days (or longer) and you’ll get ahead of the flea life cycle. Some sources say you don’t need to let it sit longer than 20 minutes. You will need to test to see what works best for your infestation.
Secondly, you can set up a trap for the little pests with a bowl of warm, soapy water or beer. Then set a light up right above the light. When the home is dark, the fleas will be attracted to the light and drown in the water. You can also purchase electric flea traps so you don’t have to put out the bowl of water. It works in a similar fashion with a light and a trap to capture the pests.
Finally, you can change what your pet eats.
Add a small Brewer’s yeast tablets to your dog’s food. Much like prescription meds (but much healthier), this is excreted through Fido’s skin making him less attractive to fleas. Check with your veterinarian for the proper dosages depending on weight.
Apple Cider Vinegar
A spoonful of this stuff added to your dog’s water makes their skin more acidic and not-at-all tasty to fleas. If apple cider vinegar is not your dog’s cup of tea, you can dilute it 50/50 with water, pour into a spray bottle and use as a repellent.
Some report that raw garlic is also useful for dogs but should never be given to cats.
Finally, look into nematodes for outdoor control. Nematodes are tiny worms that feed on flea larvae.
There are some that will say that natural methods aren’t used because they’re not as effective as chemicals. The natural methods do need to be used consistently and persistently. Unlike chemicals, you will need to use the methods more than once.
Have you started to have problems with fleas yet this year?