So you’ve seen your cat scratching and rubbing himself to relieve a pesky itch. In a short time, you catch your dog doing the same thing. Allergies? Dry skin? Then you find it; the tiny black speck that jumps from your wall to the kitchen counter. Oh no. FLEAS. These annoying critters are good at showing up uninvited and, from experience you don’t want to wait too long after spotting your first flea to get rid of them. They’re not easy to kill, believe me I’ve tried. There’s something about their hard, flat-shaped bodies that make it impossible to die just by the press of a finger. That’s why we’ll tell you the most successful ways to solve your flea problem yourself, by saving money and holding off on using harsh chemical pesticides.
What are fleas?
Fleas are about the size of a pen tip and flourish in summer temps of 70-85 degree. A single flea can lay about 40 eggs a day! Flea eggs are smaller than a grain of sand and can easily fall off your pet’s body –depositing eggs throughout your living quarters. The only (somewhat) redeeming quality about these guys is that they don’t fly. Instead, they use their powerful tiny legs to jump from place to place. Unfortunately, fleas are known to bite and leave you and your pets itchy. However, unlike mosquito bites that are larger, fleabites are small red bumps that may cause hives and rashes around the area if you are sensitive to its saliva. That’s right, every time the flea bites, it injects a small amount of saliva that helps them finish their “meal” without you or your pets detecting them.
How can you get fleas?
Because fleas like feasting on warm-blooded mammals (like us), they are likely to find a home in your pet’s fur. This is because fleas thrive in dark, moist, and warm places like the furry bodies of cats, dogs, rats, and birds. If you see a flea in your home, chances are your pet carried them in from their outdoor excursion. And when there’s 1, there’s many. You may experience fleabites as well. For me, I was bit throughout the night and woke up with dozens of small little bumps on my ankles, shins, and feet. They started out skin colored and I itched them a few times until they turned redder. Don’t itch your bites though. Too much itching can result in a bacterial infection, or long-term scarring.
Warning signs of Fleas
- Excessively itchy pets
- Irritability or restlessness (can’t sit still or remain asleep)
- Black, brown, or white “peppery” deposits in your pet’s bedding, carpet, or fur (AKA flea poop)
- Small red bumps on humans (usually around the ankles as they can jump from grass and carpets)
- Hair loss in pets
How to Fight Fleas
- Vacuum = new best friend: make sure you vacuum everything from carpets to tiny crevices. The goal is to not only suck up adult fleas, but their eggs especially. Make sure that you remove the vacuum bag when you’re finished and dispose far away from your home! (Sealing the vacuum bag in a Ziploc can never hurt either!)
- Flea Tablets: Tablets are a fast way to treat your pets as they start killing fleas within 30 minutes of consumption. The catch: only kills adult fleas and can only be administered once a day.
- Flea Sprays: Sprays should be used along with all methods described above. You can spray walls, cracks, carpets, bedding, furniture, etc. Sprays can kill both adult fleas and eggs when contact is made.
- Laundry, Laundry, Laundry! You may have to do multiple loads, multiple times, depending on how many fleas have infested your home. Washing things such as pillows, bedding, toys, stuffed animals, clothes, and virtually anything you can fit in the washer and dryer is necessary. Wash and dry in high heat as fleas and their eggs cannot survive in extreme temperatures.
How to Fight Fleas: The Natural Way
- Essential Oils: When it comes to natural methods, it may be best to vacuum and clean beforehand. Oils such as Peppermint, Lemongrass, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Cedarwood will help repel (not kill) fleas. If you’re worried about your pet’s sensitivity to these oils, start small. You can always spray a few diluted drops on your pet’s collar. You can also spray about 6 or 7 drops (diluted with water) on furniture, carpets, and bedding too.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: you can use ACV the same way you’d use essential oils. Using a spray bottle, dilute the ACV with water, and spray on carpet, bedding, and your pet’s fur. This will repel fleas and it’s also good for your animal’s coat.
- Diatomaceous Earth: DE is a sedimentary deposit that is not poisonous to pets or humans if ingested. However, it’s important to note that DE should not be inhaled or put on your pet’s skin, as DE dries everything out and can cause irritation. Subsequently, if an insect lands on DE, the substance will actually dry them out and kill them, by “absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton”. Click here for more information.
- Homemade Flea Repelling Powders: You can use DE along with several herbs that are also known to repel fleas. These herbs include Catnip, Rosemary, Sage, and Yarrow. Just make sure to grind them up before putting them in with your DE!
Other Helpful Tips:
- Do NOT scratch your bites! If you scratch, you could cause a bacterial infection that will come in some form of blistering or rash.
- Check your socks! Since fleas are usually in dense areas such as grass, they also like to jump and hide in convenient places. Your socks are a prime area to nest and lay eggs, while feeding on your ankles and feet close by!
Well folks, there you have it! We hope this list of tips and tricks will be helpful when or if you find yourself staring at a jumping black speck on your counter! Have experience getting rid of fleas? Have any more suggestions for our readers? Comment below!!