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Flea Prevention

How to Prevent Fleas From Invading Your Home

Once fleas have invaded your home it is too late for most preventative measures.  Huge numbers of aggravating fleas must be dealt with and the tools used are more aggressive than those used to prevent flea infestations.

Of all four stages of the flea (egg, larva, pupa, adult) the eggs and larvae make up about 80% of the total flea population in an infested home.  Approximately 2% of the population is made up of adults.  The best pest management programs center on the prevention of immature fleas rather than the adults.  There are two basic ways to address the problem: try to prevent any stage of the pest from entering the home and keep immature stages from maturing into adults.

Areas to Address for Flea Prevention Program

Sanitation    Flea Prevention Products    Wildlife    Pets    Outdoor Problems    

Integrated pest management is an over-all picture that includes possible causes of problems and not just spraying chemicals or throwing money at a problem.  Knowing how a pest reproduces, what it eats, how it enters your home and other such details will give you a better idea on what the pest's ideal living conditions are so that you can take away enough conditions to limit the success of the pest in your home.  This article will provide details to help prevent fleas from becoming a major indoor problem.  A summary of indoor flea prevention is also provided.
An important tool in elimination and prevention of fleas is sanitationOutdoor flea problems are often caused by or aggravated by a lack of simple lawn maintenance (sanitation,) the presence of flea infested wildlife, fleas on pets and often by stray cats and dogs.  Poor sanitation does not create fleas but it does increase the risk of inviting animals which carry fleas or ticks.  This, in turn, affects you, your family, your pets and the interior of your home.  Even with proper sanitation procedures you might have fleas transmitted to your property by your neighbor's stray pets or other animals that visit your property.  A sound flea control program (to prevent fleas inside your home) addresses possible wildlife problems, domestic animals that belong to you and those that do not, regular lawn sanitation as well as flea prevention products.  In other words, look at the entire picture to get the complete story.  Do not assume that you have perfect exterior conditions.  Inspect your property and follow integrated pest management (IPM) guidelines for flea prevention.  Flea control products which target the prevention of flea infestations are important and valuable tools but should be included in a planned program - not just used alone.

Sanitation  

Preventing fleas through sound sanitation practices is not as far fetched as many people believe.  Most people know that vacuuming their home regularly will help pick up fleas.  This vacuuming also takes away vital elements of a flea's life cycle and development: debris and "flea dirt."  Debris (tiny particles of dirt, human hair, pet hair, fibers from carpets, rugs and furniture, etc.) is the protection and camouflage of the flea pupae.  As discussed in the Flea Pupae information section, the larval stage of the flea will use the debris in your home to build its water-tight and almost invisible cocoon or pupae casing.
Flea dirt is a term sometimes used to describe dried feces of the flea.  Adult fleas (especially females) consume a tremendous amount of blood as they feed.  During the feeding process, the flea leaves behind droppings that are made up almost entirely of blood they have drained from their host.  These droppings dry out quickly and are left behind for another immature stage of the pest: flea larvae.
To inhibit the survival and development of fleas in your home, reduce the debris needed for their camouflaged cocoon and adult flea droppings that are necessary for the larvae to survive.
Thorough cleaning of a home on a regular basis (especially areas where your pets sleep, play, eat or just lounge around) will greatly reduce the materials needed for the immature flea to continue its development.
Another type of sanitation involves the areas surrounding your home.  As will be discussed in the wildlife section of flea prevention, any warm-blooded nesting animal can visit or live on your property - and these animals will re-infest your property with their parasitic fleas.  Keep grass mowed and vegetative litter raked and disposed of to reduce hiding places and possible food sources of stray pets and wildlife.  Fence rows need to be kept neat and free of tall weeds, grasses.
Tall or messy vegetation offers hiding places for many animals and makes them feel secure about crossing your property or living on your property.  Your back yard make look peaceful and serene during daylight hours but you would be surprised if you knew how much of a busy animal playground it becomes after nightfall.
Tall grasses and weeds go to seed, providing an important food source for flea carrying rats, mice, squirrels and other grain feeding animals.  The food chain continues on with fox, coyote, stray cats, etc. that feed on the smaller grain feeding rodents.  All of the animals mentioned are usually found infested with fleas.

Wildlife and Stray Pets

Your pets are not the only culprits to collect fleas on your property.  Stray dogs and cats as well as naturally occurring wildlife are major sources of fleas.  The outdoor sanitation procedures outlined above will help discourage many animals from feeling comfortable on your property.  If stray pets or nuisance wildlife persist, they can be a major source of fleas that will be tracked into your home.  (Just because you do not have any pets does not mean that you cannot get fleas inside your home!)
Animals that you might have to discourage or eliminate can be as small as mice and as large as raccoons, dogs or coyote.  If traps or baits are needed to eliminate rodents from your property you should place them in tamper resistant stations to protect pets and non-target animals.  Eliminating rats and mice is discussed in more detail on the rat elimination page and rodent removal page.
Larger nuisance animals that live under your home, in your attic, garage, shed or barn should be removed.  Nuisance animals can include stray cats or dogs as well as skunks, raccoons, coyote, fox.  These flea bearing animals can be safely captured and released with a humane live animal trap.  These box traps are designed for easy setup for capturing animals as well as releasing the animals at another location.  Once the animals have been removed it is often suggested that areas where they nest or frequent be treated for fleas.  A combination of IGR and an insecticide is best for this type of problem.  By eliminating fleas from these outdoor hot spots you reduce the chances that you or your pets will carry unwanted fleas into your home.

Outdoor Problems

Even if you have no pets inside your home or on your property, fleas can easily be carried into your home by humans.  Adult fleas respond to movement, vibrations and exhaled breath.  The simple action of walking across a flea infested area (your lawn, a public park, etc.) sets off the natural jumping action of adult fleas.  They then can easily hitch-hike into your home, once they cling to your skin, shoes, socks, pants or other articles of clothing.  It is in this manner that people with no pets can have their home invaded by fleas.
If you ignore outdoor flea problems you are at great risk of transferring fleas into your home.  The fleas will be carried inside by obliging hosts such as your pets, children or adults.
Outdoor problems can be addressed with approved insecticides, insect growth regulators containing Nylar and regular yard work or sanitation.  For details on the subject, read the outdoor flea control information page.
There are many products to choose from when treating your lawn for fleas, whether it be for prevention or elimination.  You must decide what means of control is best for you, your family, pets and any possible impact on the surrounding environment.  A combination that is gaining popularity in areas where fleas are a constant threat is to use Talstar Granules and Nylar IGR.  Talstar Granules control insects without using a high amount of active ingredients.  Nylar IGR prevents flea eggs and flea larvae from developing into adult fleas.  Broadcast Talstar Granules over the entire lawn.  Immediately after broadcasting insecticide granules, irrigate the area.  Using a hose-end sprayer (do not use a pump type sprayer), apply Nylar to the same area.  In other words, water in the granules with your IGR.  In this manner you have broadcast the lawn with granules and activated them with a solution of insect growth regulator.  This combination kills ants (and other bugs), helps prevent adult fleas from establishing themselves as pests and inhibits the growth and development of immature fleas.  Many customers report that the combination of Talstar Granules and Nylar IGR keeps their lawns flea free for almost three months - all with one application.  For this combination,
Archer is suggested as Nylar IGR.  Using small containers of Nylar becomes too costly for this type of application.  Archer is an full pint of insect growth inhibitor, saving money when treating large areas and treating area more than once.

  • Spread 1 bag Talstar Granules over area (1 bag per 10,000 square feet is best.)

  • Pour 10 ounces Archer (Nylar) into Dial Sprayer.  (10 ounces will cover 10,000 square feet)  Set dial to no more than 1 ounce.

  • Connect Dial Sprayer to garden hose.

  • Spray area (and granules) with Archer solution.  Keep spraying until contents of sprayer have been emptied.  (Do not spray toys, food and water dishes)

  • Keep pets and children off treated area until treated surfaces have been allowed to dry.

  • Repeat Archer application in 30 to 60 days.

For severe outdoor problems and prevention of future infestations, use the same procedure outlined above.  Add 1.5 ounces Dragnet (Permethrin) per 1,000 square feet to Archer.  Spray Archer and Dragnet at the same time with your Dial Sprayer.  Dragnet (Permethrin) provides quick knock-down of adult fleas; Talstar works slower but lasts longer, preventing flea and tick adults; Archer inhibits growth of flea eggs and flea larvae for up to a month.
This combination is popular in areas where the presence of squirrels, stray cats and other animals is a constant threat for infesting lawns with fleas and ticks.

Pets

Controlling fleas on pets is just as important as the other aspects of flea prevention.  If your pets have fleas, these fleas are bound to fall off of the pet.  There are a multitude of flea control products for pets available.  Choose the shampoo, topical treatment or spray that best suits you and your pet.  Even pets that never go outside deserve a frequent inspection that will tell you if they have been attacked by fleas or ticks.
Dogs that are allowed to roam large areas and cats that are allowed inside and outside of the home should be treated with either Frontline or Advantage during the peak flea season.
Pets that do not belong to anyone in your household but constantly wander into your yard should be taken care of.  Besides fleas and ticks, these animals can also transit diseases to you and your pets.  If talking to their owners does not improve the situation, talk with your local authorities about the situation.  (In certain areas you can report cases of animal cruelty anonymously.  A pet that cannot access shelter from heat or rain and a pet that does not have ready access to food and drink is being mistreated.)

Flea Prevention Products    

Besides eliminating outdoor infestations before the fleas invade your home, flea prevention products do not always include the use of pesticides.  If you live in an area that is prone to flea problems, begin your flea prevention program as early as March.  After thorough cleaning and vacuuming, apply a product that will keep flea eggs and flea larvae from growing up or a product that kills eggs and larvae.  These types of products are generally safer to handle than insecticides, last longer than insecticides and attack fleas in their most vulnerable and numerous stages: eggs and larvae.
For homes with carpets and rugs, Flea Stoppers is one of the best products to use for flea prevention in your home.  Once applied to carpeted areas the material remains in the fibers where it kills eggs and larvae - for a full year.
Flooring that is not covered with rugs or carpets can be sprayed with an odorless insect growth regulator (IGR) that attacks the eggs and larvae of fleas.  An IGR usually lasts between three and six months indoors and up to one month outdoors.
Use your flea prevention products before flea season is in full swing.

Indoor Flea Prevention Summary

  • Maintain lawns: This provides fewer hiding places and possible food sources for unwanted flea infested wildlife or rodents.

  • Regularly vacuum indoors, concentrating on areas where pets sleep, play or might otherwise transmit fleas to your floors and furniture - especially beneath furniture!

  • Remove nuisance animals that transmit fleas or ticks to your property and pets.  A cat trap or raccoon trap will be the correct size for most nuisance animals.  Live rodent traps or pet safe rodent bait boxes can also be used to prevent or eliminate rats and mice from the area.  Bait boxes provide a safer means for baiting outdoors (for rodents) but you should continue to monitor the area.  Bait can be dropped by rodents that hoard food.

  • Control stray pets that are not leashed or penned.

  • Use some means to eliminate fleas from your pets.  Flea sprays, topical flea treatments (Frontline Topspot, Advantage) and flea shampoos are available for the job.

  • Eliminate or control fleas in your lawn.  Fleas will hitchhike into your home, using pets or people as their ride inside.

  • Use the best flea control products available for preventing an outbreak before it happens.  Exterminating an existing infestation is more costly and time consuming than simply preventing fleas from becoming a problem in your home.  Use Flea Stoppers in carpets and rugs.  Flea Stoppers has a one year guarantee.  Treat furniture and non-carpeted flooring with Nylar, Precor 2000 or Precor.  Do not obsess over an occasional flea. Instead, worry about the hundreds of flea eggs that a single female flea will lay in your home.

  • Know your enemy!  Understanding a pest (how does it reproduce, feed, travel, etc.) will put you in the position to make your home as uninviting to the targeted pest as possible.

Flea elimination is more costly, time consuming and invasive than flea prevention!

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