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
Of all four stages of the flea (egg,
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
Flea Prevention Products Wildlife
Pets Outdoor Problems
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 sanitation.
Outdoor 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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
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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