To successfully treat a flea infestation, it is important that your pets, your home and your garden are all treated at the same ti...
If you suspect that your property has fleas, the first thing to do is correctly identify and confirm your suspicions. The fastest way to do this is to comb or brush your pet. As you do, look for tiny dark dots or comma-shape objects. This is flea excrement, known as flea dirt. It's different from plain old dirt. You can tell the difference if you comb your pet over a damp paper towel as you'll see little red dots (from blood) where the dirt hits the towel.
Not seeing flea dirt? Bumps on your ankles and lower legs can also point to fleas. Bites typically turn into small red slightly raised hard spots. Each bite will have a single puncture point in its centre, which is how you can distinguish it from ant and spider bites (which have two punctures).
Pet owners can choose from several new products that are safer and more effective than older insecticide dusts and sprays. If you start using these products before flea season begins, you greatly reduce the odds of flea infestation. If you use them to combat an existing infestation, they can quickly help curb the problem.
For a flea-abatement effort to be effective, you need to treat your pets, home and garden. Adult fleas aren't your only problem, so killing the ones on your pets is only part of the solution. You also have to kill fleas in other stages of development. If you don't, you'll have an ongoing infestation that will never quite go away.
Spot-on insecticides (Advantage, Frontline, Revolution) are applied to a single spot on the animal's skin. The best products, available from veterinarians, contain insecticides that have been found safer than those in other flea-control products; some spot-on products sold at pet stores, garden centres and other retailers, which contain older insecticides, can have side effects in animals and humans such as numbness, tingling and burning sensations on the skin. Ask your vet's advice before buying or using flea-control products, and don't use products on cats that are designed for dogs (and vice versa).
Insect growth regulators (IGRs) interrupt fleas' life cycles by messing with their hormones. They make the eggs of female fleas sterile and prevent flea larvae that haven't entered pupae stage from maturing into adult fleas. But they won't kill fleas that are already on your pet or around your house. IGRs are available as sprays, spot-ons or in collars from veterinarians and through pest control operators for indoor and outdoor application.
Insect development inhibitors also disrupt egg and larval development. When adult fleas chomp down on your pet, they ingest a substance that acts as birth control. It won't stop you from seeing adult fleas, but it prevents new generations from being born. They're available from vets as a once-a-month treatment administered in pill or liquid form.
Shampoos and dips also get rid of fleas. Some contain insecticides that have been linked to health and toxicity concerns. They kill fleas on your pet, but most have no residual effect and could end up costing more over time than newer products do. Discuss their use with your vet.
Clean your pet's bedding and resting areas regularly with a multipurpose cleaner and by vacuuming. Toss washable bedding into your washer and use warm or hot water. When clean, dry it in the dryer. If the bedding isn't washable, vacuum it thoroughly. Clean hard surfaces where your pet sleeps or rests. Vacuum carpeted areas thoroughly. Clean other surfaces with all-purpose cleaner applied with rags or a mop. If you use a mop, discard the mop head after use. If your animals sleep on your bed, launder all bedding materials. Fleas can't survive the wash cycle.
Treat your home with an insecticide. You can do it yourself - use a bomb or fogger that contains an IGR - or hire a professional (specify that your home needs to be treated for fleas). Arrange for people and animals to be out of the house for at least two hours after treatment. Vacuum before you start – this will pick up about 60 percent of flea eggs, about 27 percent of flea larvae, some adult fleas and flea dirt. When you're done, take the vacuum cleaner outside and discard the bag. When you re-enter the house after treatment, vacuum again to remove any fleas that have hatched. They'll keep emerging for about two weeks after treatment, as the insecticide won't kill fleas in the pupal stage. Depending on the product, you might have to re-treat.
Cut down weeds and trim shrubs to better expose eggs and larvae to sun and water. Give your lawn and landscaping a good soaking, which will drown some of the fleas. Wash down hard surfaces with a mild detergent. If there is bedding outdoors, vacuum or wash it.
It's a good idea to spray the area surrounding your house. You might want to hire a professional exterminator, especially if you have a large garden or are battling a severe infestation. If you do it yourself, wear long trousers, a hat and a long-sleeve shirt to protect you from sprayback or drifting. Choose products that contain IGRs. Spray thoroughly everywhere, with particular emphasis on where your animals spend a lot of time as well as under porches, loft spaces, inside garages or sheds or under pet homes. A repeat treatment might be necessary in a few weeks.
Article provided by Dynamic Pest Control