TIPS FOR FLEA CONTROL
Flea control begins with good sanitation: the largest part of the flea population exists as eggs or larvae. These can be removed by thorough, frequent vacuuming indoors. If you have a severe flea problem, be sure to empty the vacuum bag each time, and place the contents in a plastic bag for disposal. Or, keep a little flea powder in the bag itself. Vacuuming can remove 30% to 40% of flea eggs at once. Proper cleaning also removes the larval flea's food supply. Replace or wash pets' beds frequently. Pay attention to all areas frequented by pets, as well as narrow spaces along walls and in closets.
The same holds true outdoors. Keep edge areas clear of debris. Sweep patios and garage corners regularly. Screen foundation vents to keep pets away from this breeding ground. Keep rodents away from the house by restacking woodpiles and clearing undergrowth. Fleas on rodents will quickly hop onto pets nearby. Get rid of any bird or rabbit nests near the home. Re-infestation happens easily.
Keep your pet well groomed. Combing or brushing your pet can remove not only flea eggs and larvae, but adult fleas as well. Bathing your pet with an ordinary soap will kill or remove most fleas. Shampoos, dips, and collars control adults on the pet, but do little to stop immature fleas that are living elsewhere. Consult your veterinarian for tips on how to handle dermatitis or more severe problems.
The best means of extra control may be Insect Growth Regulators or IGRs. These chemicals mimic flea hormones, and interrupt the growth of the egg or larvae. Some make female fleas sterile. These are very safe for use in the home since they are specific to the flea. Some are effective for up to 10 weeks-so you can remove the whole population.
IGRs usually have the ingredients methoprene or fenoxycarb. Methoprene, sold as Precor or vIGRen, is effective indoors, but breaks down in sunlight. Fenoxycarb, sold as Torus or Basus, is good for outdoor use near kennels or shrubbery and decks. For best results with any flea control product, always read and follow all label directions.
While the steps outlined above are most effective for long-term control, you may want to kill the adult fleas immediately. We suggest you use pesticides with lower toxicity near your family and pets. Many pets, especially longhaired cats and some dog breeds, are extremely sensitive to pesticides, even in flea collars.
There are many boron- or pyrethrum-based products that are safe for use in many situations. Consider treating with a pesticide product labeled for perimeter treatments for lawns. It's not necessary to treat the entire lawn, since fleas will only infest areas where pets rest. These products, together with the other steps outlined above, can provide long-term, safe flea control.
No matter which pesticide you choose, for your own safety, read and follow all label instructions. And please, keep pesticides away from all drains.
If you have a severe flea infestation, consult a veterinarian or specialist for more aggressive measures. Remember, killing the adult fleas will relieve the itching for a few days, but the fleas will return if no other steps are taken. Be patient and vigilant with fleas. Good flea control won't happen overnight, but it will work for a long time.