Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pests in the home: fleas

Hello again, I'm sorry for only posting again today, but all your other bloggers will understand how long it takes to put some posts together - especially when there are not-to-miss programmes on the TV like 'The Restaurant' and 'Lost in Austen' :)

As promised here is my second monthly post about PESTS - this one dealing with fleas!


Fleas can be a problem for people with and without pets. If you have a mouse, squirrel, bat, or for those folks across the pond, raccoon problem, fleas can infest your house via them, or you could even inherit fleas from previous home owners. However you are most likely to encounter then if you have pets since fleas will jump onto your pets coat outside and travel with them into your home. The scary part is that fleas spend the majority of their lives away from the host animal - meaning, they will live in your home, and occasionally jump onto your beloved pet to feed not to mention jump onto you too!

There are plenty of products on the market that can help you get rid of fleas, but you don't have to resort to chemical warfare. The effects of using pesticides in your house, can cause health issues for you, your family and your pets. So below is a list of natural ingredients you can use to fight of fleas. At the very end of the post are some steps you can follow immediately if ever you realise you have a flea problem in your home. However, if you find fleas on your pet or in your home don't panic - it is much easier to control a flea problem than you think. With the right natural ingredients, and a bit of regular vacuuming around the house, you'll be sorted in no time. You DO NOT need to spend a fortune on pesticides and poisonous powders since realistically most people will only ever have to deal with about a dozen fleas at any given time. So please please don't resort to hazardous flea bombs and powders!

The flea life cycle

This is crucial to know if you want to go to war with fleas.

Click on the picture to enlarge it, and read all about the life cycle of a fleas.







For your home
Vacuum
Fleas live deep within the fibres of carpets and fabric (yes, even your mattress). Fleas react to vibrations, which is why when you or your pet walks across the carpet area where the live, they jump up and feed. Therefor they come out of the fibres when you vacuum, and get sucked into the vacuum bag. Do however remember to empty the vacuum bag as soon as you have finished. If not the fleas might continue breeding and escape straight back into your home. You can add some cornflour to the vacuum bag to help suffocate the fleas.

Steam cleaning
Heat also kills fleas, but warm humid conditions is perfect environment for flea eggs to hatch, so make sure to follow steam cleaning with a once a day vacuum
If you don't have a steam cleaner, check with friends and family if you could borrow one, or invest in one. They are very handy - especially great for cleaning ovens and getting rid of bed bugs in your mattress.

Salt
I'm no scientist, so I don't know how true this is, but apparently sprinkling salt onto carpets and furnishings can help kill fleas or make them immobile. Something to do with it drying them out? And since salt is harmless, I reckon it's worth a try.

Cornflour
The use of cornflour is similar to that of salt, it clings to the fleas and makes them move slower. I use a teaspoon or so of cornflour in the vacuum bag to prevent the fleas from escaping straight back into the house

Diatomaceous Earth (food grade only)
DE is a mineral powder that kills fleas by causing them to dehydrate. DE is not toxic to humans, but it can be dangerous if inhaled. Both eye protection and a dust mask need to be worn when applying it. If you decide to use DE, make sure your child isn't around when you first apply it, and be sure to lightly vacuum any loose dust left over after application. Since DE isn't as easily available as the rest of the ingredients listed and can be harmful (although not toxic), I would use this as a last resort.

Light flea trap
This method is not going to get rid of lots of fleas at once, but it is a great way to check whether you've won the war against fleas. You'll need a desk lamp (or a lamp with directional light), a shallow bowl or dish and some soapy water (dish washing liquid works great). At night, place the dish with soapy water directly under the desk lamp near the area where you think you have a flea problem, or near where your pet sleeps. Leave it over night, and if you do have a flea problem, you will most likely see a few fleas that have drowned in your water bowl - the soap helping to weigh them down.

For Pets
Apple Cider Vinegar
Fleas don't like acidity, so this is a simple way to treat your dog or cat for fleas. Add a teaspoon of it to your pets water bowl (that is if they don't mind the taste - most wont). You can even rinse their coats with some apple cider vinegar after a bath, or use a spray bottle with diluted Apple cider vinegar to spray onto your dog or cat's coat.
Dandelion and burdock root
These are the best herbs to treat against fleas, and can be added to your pet's diet by grating these over their food.
Brewer's yeast
I've not tried this for our dog, but brewer's yeast added to your pet's diet is also meant to deter fleas, and make them dislike the taste of your pets blood.

These great tips below are from the Canine Natural Cures website:
Citrus repellent
Cut a lemon into quarters and place in a pint jug. Cover the lemon with boiling water and let it steep overnight. Next day you have a flea repellent that you can use in a spray bottle. Spray over your dog remembering especially behind the ears and around the head generally (careful of eyes), around the base of the tail (once again keep away from delicate bits) and under your dog’s ‘armpits’.

Aromatherapy repellent
Using 10 ml. of sweet almond oil as your base, add 10 drops of lavender and 5 drops of cedar wood. Shake well and use 1 or 2 drops spread over the skin at least twice a week to keep the fleas away.
Homemade Flea Collar
A flea collar can be made by rubbing a few drops of one of the following into an ordinary webbing or rope collar or even a doggy bandanna: eucalyptus oil, Tea Tree Oil, citronella, lavender or geranium. Don’t forget to do this weekly. We now stock a product that makes this easy for you.
I've used Eucalyptus oil on our dog's collar, and it does seem to work. I've also used a couple of drops to put in the washing machine when I wash his bedding (but not his toys).
Taking action when fleas are discovered
As soon as you realise you pet has a flea problem, jump into action immediately by following these steps (if you don't have a pet, you get to skip trying to wash your pet!):
  1. Wash your pet starting by pouring water over the neck area (never submerge your pets face in water or use any soap near the eyes, mouths and ears). Move down from the neck area using lots of water at a luke warm temperature. This along with shampooing and rinsing should at least drown most of the fleas.
  2. Wash all your pets bedding, collars, toys etc on a warm wash cycle.
  3. Sprinkle salt on all soft furnishings and carpets or rugs where your pet frequents, and wash all removable fabric covers from pillows.
  4. Before you vacuum any surfaces, add cornflour to the vacuum bag as this will help to suffocate any fleas caught in the vacuum bag. Now vacuum all carpeting and furnishings thoroughly and empty the vacuum bag immediately into a plastic bag, seal the bag and place in an outdoor bin.
  5. Check your dog or cat again for fleas after he or she is dry from their bath - the best way to do this is by using a flea comb. If you feel that most of the fleas have gone, your pet may return to their bedded area.
  6. Repeat step 4 once a day for 10 days.

Now you'll know how to deal with fleas if you ever have the problem. I remember the fright I got when I first discovered our dog had fleas. I felt so bad that I hadn't done anything to prevent it. But I was quickly put at ease when I read that all pet owners have to deal with fleas at some point. So keep vacuuming and washing your pet's bedding, remember the lemons and hopefully you'll never be frightened of those litter critters again!

Next post will be about tidying that under the sink cupboard! You know the one I mean - and yes, I will be revealing my before and after shots of this.

8 comments:

Iris Overseas|Dog Rugs said...

Keep your house clean regularly and use all out mosquito/insects killer sprays to avoid the diseases for your pet.

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

I sure missed you!
I know how difficult it is to divide your life,with work, housework, blogging, family and a bit of leisure in between!
The last few days, I have been a busy bee... I would "expect" (I think I spell it wrong. Ohhps, Sorry!LOL...things to calm down a bit, now that my Treasures are back at school... but its been the completly opposite!
I`m off now, to go and pick them up!
Thanks for the information about fleas... and for my bathroom flooring suggestions!
They were very much apprecciated!
I have been wanting to email you for a chat, but at the moment, never seem to find the time!LOL
I will speak to you soon!
Kisses & Hugs
The "MOSSES" Family

Ivy said...

This blog makes me paranoid-like bugs are everywhere. AAAAAA!

Judy said...

Oh Cool I can hardly wait to see under your sink!!! I hope it's not as bad as mine. Actually I don't think mine is too bad but I'm sure after reading your post I'll change my mind. My cat had fleas while I was living in Dallas and after having him dipped, spending the day/night at the vets while I washed everything, vacuumed, sprayed, shampooed and whatever else I could think of while he was away was a total nightmare. I don't wish those little critters on anyone. YUCK!!

LaundryBasketCase said...

Ha ha, I know - reading about the type of pests that can come into our homes is a bit scary. But luckily they are all easy enough to get rid of. My pet hate is not actually a pest - it' spiders! I can deal with snakes, mice rats, fleas even cockroaches, but spiders terrify me!
Judy, I'm sure your under the sink cupboard isn't too bad. I bet you though that in 6 months time I'll have to re-tidy mine. Home keeping really is never ending, but I'm learning so much by doing these posts and I can even report that after my 'how to dry laundry' post I really am hanging my laundry differently. Thanks so much to all of you that leave comments and read my posts - it's encouraging! xxx

MelMel said...

Yuk fleas!!!!
Men never get the joy of a program like Lost in Austen...do they?

I feel really rubbish today....but i battle on!
the little girl i look after is also ill....but she is going home soon....well to the doc's first!
bless her!

xxx

lenno_cornish said...

Luckily I have never had flees at home. But once my mother and I go to our relatives. When she get up in the morning she had her legs in red spots all itching. That was awful.

The Vintage Kitten said...

Oh Ive been waiting for this post, so glad you did it. I have four cats and a dog so it can be a problem for us. We dont have any carpets anywhere in the house only rugs so that helps abit. I get stuff from the vets that lasts a month and we havnt had any fleas recently, but I dont like using chemicals on my 'babies' so I will try your alternatives as a matter of course and put a stop to them returning. Cornflour in the vaccum is something Ive never tried and anything with lemons I love. Ive been meaning to do a post on lemons uses, I will get round to it eventually. Really informative post again. Thankyou for taking time and doing the research and posting, Mandy

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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