Ewww Ughh Fleas!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by meowbunny, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I truly don't mind bugs all that much, except for two -- flies of any kind and fleas. Those two creep me out and I want them dead, dead, DEAD.

    Well, it turns out that in Florida when you get a lot of rain, the bugs head for lanais and garages. Sadly, my lanai has stupid outdoor carpeting. I can no longer step out there without seeing little black hopping disgusting fleas on my feet. I HATE FLEAS!!

    So, any suggestions how to get rid of them? I can't imagine that bombing a screened-in room would work and I do have to protect the kitties. HELP!!!
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    7 dust. Works in grass, it guess it would work on carpet.
  3. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I got stuff from the vet called Knockout E.S. made by Virback Animal Health. It's made for area treatment and it works wonderfully. And it wasn't horribly expensive.

    Says on the back of the can:

    Just keep your kitties off it until it dries.
  4. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    If you want to shampoo the carpet use dawn dish soap instead of any other kind and that will zap them.

  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Vacuum with mothballs in the vacuum bag.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'm taking notes. :D

    I'm still battling them myself. Although not quite as bad as before. Seems to be a bad year for fleas. argh
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Fleas. They love the chance to breed in various materials. I remember that seagrass matting could almost guarantee you would have flea problems. My father was house-sitting for the people next door, and they had seagrass matting on the floor. He walked in the house after it had been empty for two weeks, and had to rush out quickly; he was covered in fleas. Mum said his lower legs were black up to the knees, with fleas. I remember seeing him dancing in the backyard, while my mother sprayed his legs with fly spray. She wouldn't let him back in the house until every flea was gone.

    I later found out, in my studies, that what had happened was that the fleas had developed to the pupa stage some time before, maybe even before the owners left their house. Seagrass matting is porous, it allows flea eggs, dirt, dust etc to fall through and sit undisturbed underneath. Similar products that seem to encourage fleas are ones which allow debris etc to stay undisturbed either underneath, or deep in the pile.

    Fleas can remain in the pupae phase almost indefinitely. If my father had not gone into the house next door, the owners would have been the ones to trigger the next phase - pupal hatching. It really doesn't take much - a change in temperature or humidity can do it. Or, in the case of my father, his footfalls in the house after a period of quiet was enough to trigger the flea pupae to emerge form their cases and immediately look for a blood meal.

    It's a very effective adaptation - if the fleas emerge too soon and there is no animal to feed on, they will starve. So by only emerging when there is vibration (as from a footfall) then they can be fairly sure of having something nearby to latch onto. Adult fleas prefer to live on their host for that handy blood meal, so necessary to give them the resources they need to breed.

    Back when I was studying at uni there was some exciting research - they had developed a new pesticide which worked in a different way. Instead of being a toxic poison, this worked by interfering with the physical development of the insect. It basically prevented the flea from forming the pupal stage properly. At the time the research was working on three insect groups - flies, cockroaches and fleas. The general description of the pesticides back then was "juvenile hormone" - because when affected by this pesticide, the insects were unable to live beyond the juvenile stage. If they cannot moult properly, they die. These days there are many new developments and pesticides that can work on different stages of the life cycle. You REALLY want something that will kill the eggs - what's the point of spraying, if new fleas hatch out in a week's time?

    So now we have the benefits of this research - we use cockroach bombs every few months and the result is a residual poison with a high toxicity for cockroaches but low toxicity for us (we don't develop through various moult stages). Use one of these and you notice (after a few weeks) the appearance of some very deformed-looking cockroaches.

    These pesticides are specific to the creature - cockroach sprays won't work on fleas, unless the manufacturer has combined the two chemicals. Mind you, manufacturers do mix chemicals together often. When you use the more modern sprays they usually contain a juvenile hormone plus a fast knock-down pyrethrin-based conventional pesticide and sometimes a residual one as well. After all, you are going to really appreciate fast results. There is no value to the manufacturer, in making a very good juvenile hormone spray that will do a brilliant long-term job but which will still leave you so frustrated at the flea problems still continuing for a couple of weeks, that you go out and buy another spray. The customer would give the credit to the wrong spray, and the manufacturer would lose future sales.

    So I recommend you get your hands on a combination pesticide that contains a juvenile hormone. You will also want something for a fast knock-down so either get a combination spray, or use a short-term spray as well. Check the ingredients label to see what is in it and how it will work.

    There are some wonderful products that will wipe out the majority of the current flea population as well as leave a residual poison around to break the life cycle. If you can successfully eliminate all fleas in the area, you next need to prevent reinfestation. This can happen wither because you didn't kill every single flea, or because new fleas have moved in. You have to work on tat also.

    Another thing you need to work on - eradicating conditions favourable to flea breeding. I would be looking at putting in a smooth flooring of some sort. A smooth floor which can be easily swept clean will not be kind to flea eggs or pupae.

    Treat your pets, especially if they regularly leave the premises. Keep your property quarantined from visiting pets.

    And treat as soon as you know you have a problem. Leaving it to build up is not good, it means you have a bigger population to eradicate.

    If you have a flea on you - my mother's trick was to go stand in a full bathtub, as fully clothed as possible. Take your clothes off item by item and shake them over the water. A flea landing in water is trapped and can't get away. If there is any detergent (ie bubble bath) in the water, it breaks the surface tension and the flea is even more likely to drown. You only need a few drops of detergent.
    Once you have stripped off everything you're wearing, check your clothing for blood spots - when a flea bites you, it leaves a tiny speck of blood on the fabric that was in contact with your skin at that point.

    A flea bite generally looks a little different to a mozzie bite - a flea bite often has a tiny mark at the centre.

    Sometimes you can get flea epidemics in some areas, especially when conditions are favourable. That's when you really need to understand how flea life cycles work, so you can do your best to disrupt them.

    Good luck!

  8. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Marguerite, please don't take this too personally, but you give way too much information. Tell me how to get rid of them. I don't care about their history, ability to wait in a house until food arrives, etc. (Actually, I already knew that.)
  9. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Ugh, we had them EVERY August growing up on LI. There was a sandy easement behind our home (own by the electric company) and between that and our myriad of animals, we were infested in no time. Every year.

    My Mom was a friend to any insecticide at anytime and had no problem sprinkling, no HEAPING, flea powder on everything, including the animals, and then setting off bombs all over the house while we went out for the day. Then the cleanup - ugh.

    I love the closer to nature ideas below. I hope you are able to zap them ASAP. Nasty little things. I remember squishing them, when I could catch one, between my nails. How gross is that?
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Apologies. I was trying to explain which type of pesticide would be best, to try to get rid of them as thoroughly and permanently as possible.

    From my own experience (extrapolated from cockroaches) - the newer hormonal-type pesticides are far more effective at really stopping a big pest problem than any of the older methods. Safer, too, since the pesticide is far more specific to the particular pest.

    The drawbacks - they put in other pesticides too, to make the results seem even more immediately effective. THESE ones are the riskier ones - you were worrying about your cats?

    I did suggest (medium to long-term) planning (if you can) to switch to a smooth floor in that area so it can be swept. But an alternative would be to get your hands on a vacuum cleaner that beats the floor thoroughly, one of those power head ones.

    I do think you're going to have to use some type of pesticide. Sorry. Bomb the place and keep the cats out of it for a while, although they shouldn't be in any more danger than humans, around those sprays. Fish are more at risk (from pyrethrins). And birds.

    Jo, believe it or not, I also don't like using pesticides. I've got my neighbours primed to warn me whenever they're having their place sprayed. When I know it's happening, I batten down the hatches and avoid any picnics for a few days!

    The only really effective pesticide-free method I know, is the "stand over a bathtub of water" routine. That's only for treating the individual, and only if the rest of the place is flea-free.

    Sorry about the too much information. Still, I could have been MUCH worse. I will not go into details on HOW much worse!

    A paper I read once on parasites was subtitled, "You can dress a biologist up, but you can't take them out to dinner!"

    I hope the problem gets sorted fast.

  11. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Leaf blower?

    (thought you had some good suggestions and could use some humor)

    Actually if you want you can set a white dish with some DAWN detergent in it and add water - point a lamp at it - and they will JUMP for the white light reflected in the plate/light and land in the Dawn and die.

    This is also Non - toxic to kittehs. Unless of course you have a cat that is a freak for Dawn...then this suggestion will not help.