If you are a pet owner (sometimes even if you’re not), you’ll likely have had to combat a flea infestation at one point or another. Hopefully it was a minor one and you managed to solve it without too much issue, but if you’ve dealt with it then you know that even getting rid of a minor infestation can be a major pain. And with so many types of flea products on the market today, which ones should you use, and when do you use them? Worry not because this article outlines all the steps you need to take to make your flea problem a thing of the past. And if you are an aspiring pet owner, or just a lucky pet owner who hasn’t had the misfortune of having to fight off fleas yet, then this article is for you as well.
Step 1: Confirm Their Presence
By the time the fleas start biting you, the infestation has already become major. If you can spot the following signs of flea infestation before the ‘symptoms’, it’ll be much easier to fight at the early stages.
Flea Dirt: Despite the word dirt, flea dirt is not really dirt at all, rather it is the dried feces and blood of adult fleas. Flea dirt looks like tiny black specks and are the main food source for flea larvae.
Adult Fleas: They look like tiny reddish brown specks. While they are hard to spot, their movement often catches the eye. If you notice a speck that appears noticeably bigger, it means that the flea has just fed. For your information, adult fleas only make up 10% of the total flea population.
Step 2: Combat
Once you have confirmed the presence of fleas in your home, do the following steps immediately. Do not wait, as a flea can lay as many as 500 eggs over its short lifespan of 2 to 3 months. This is going to be the most effort and time intensive step in getting rid of fleas
Treat your Pets: Your pets are the reason the fleas are there in the first place. Treat them first, using a flea comb with a hot soapy bath nearby to deposit the fleas. This is the first and most important step, as also mentioned in this guide on how to get rid of fleas. Sometimes a flea comb may not be enough and you can use a topical flea treatment, available at most stores or from your vet. Important: these products are insecticidal chemicals and should be treated with caution. Read the labels carefully; if the treatment is for canines, don’t use it for felines as it might be harmful, even fatal, to them.
Launder: Your pets’ bedding is the number one priority here, but if you have found fleas on your bed or sofa etc. you may want to launder those too, where possible. Use the hottest water possible in order to kill the adults and the eggs as well.
Vacuum: Not many people know how effective and important vacuuming really is in fighting fleas. The suction action of a vacuum will kill adult fleas and larvae while sucking up eggs and pupae (which are insecticide resistant). Fleas are hard to combat because of its pupal stage, which resists chemicals and fleas can reside in pupae for months at a time, leading to surprise reemergence of the infestation weeks and months after you thought it was eradicated. Even if the vacuum doesn’t get all the pupae, the pressure it generates will cause the adult fleas to emerge from the pupae. Also, vacuuming raises the carpet fibers making it more accessible for other treatments. Vacuum thoroughly once every two days until the problem is over, paying extra attention to your carpets and areas where your pets travel.
Poison: The more thoroughly you vacuum your houses, the less pesticides you have to use. So make sure you get your vacuuming on point before busting out the chemicals. While flea bombs are a popular option, we absolutely do not recommend them as they are the most hazardous to you and your pet’s health. If you must use them, do so only if you can find another place to stay with your pets for a few days. We recommend using aerosol flea sprays, which are convenient and easy to use and contain both insecticides and insect growth regulators (which prevent larvae from developing into adults) mixed together. Important: You need at least TWO pesticide treatments, spaced a few weeks apart in order to account for pupae in the first application. Keep up the vacuuming in the intervening period.
Step 3: Control and Maintenance
After going through all that trouble, the last thing you want is the problem to recur. Keep treating your pet routinely to prevent fleas, and treat your lawn as well. For the lawn we recommend diatomaceous earth (non-toxic so you can sprinkle it everywhere) to get rid of fleas. And the moment you see the first sign of a recurrence, take action early and nip it in the bud.