- FLEA LIFE CYCLE
- WHERE FLEAS LIVE
- FLEA TREATMENTS
- FLEA SPRAYS
- WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU TREAT
- YOU CAN’T KILL FLEA PUPAE
- DO NOT KEEP PETS OR PEOPLE OUT OF ANY ROOM
- DO NOT VACATE ROOMS
- USE FLEA TRAPS
- ONCE A YEAR FLEA TREATMENT
- HOW TO TREAT TILED OR HARDWOOD FLOORS
- HOW TO TREAT FLEAS IN GARAGE
- FLEA CONTROL FOR PETS
- PRODUCTS FOR PETS WITH SENSITIVE SKIN
- FLEA PRODUCTS FOR THE YARD
Fleas are persistent, nasty and tough to kill. Flea infestations can make people and pets miserable. If you’ve wondered why this creature is so “hard to kill”, read on. If you’ve wondered how any insect could survive after all the spraying, cleaning and aerosol “bombing” you did, keep reading. I will explain the flea in great detail and only then will you understand why they are so hard to rid a structure of them once they get a foothold in any structure.
FLEA LIFE CYCLE
Like most insect control, successful flea control must include a flea treatment that will stop the flea “cycle”. This cycle I am referring to includes the eggs, larva, pupa and adult stage. Here is a brief description of the cycle from start to finish.
1) An adult flea jumps onto you, your pet, your child, etc. and gets a meal. Fleas feed on blood and although their mouth is small, a flea bite can hurt and most certainly can become inflamed, itchy and swollen. Many people and many pets are allergic to flea bites. If you have flea bites and want to get some relief as well as promote healing, use some BITE OINTMENT. This product will take away the itch and discomfort. Furthermore, if you are in some line of work which constantly puts you in close proximity with fleas, consider using a flea repellent for people. We have three formulations which work very well at keeping them off you and your clothes. For the skin, treat with either our DEET LOTION or our BUG OFF AEROSOL. Though most deet products won’t list fleas on their label, we’ve seen good results with this lotion formulation and the Bug Off Flea Repellent is very effective. For a “one spray” product, it’s the best option if you want something to treat clothing and skin.
Now if you prefer a unique “scent” which is not offensive and highly effective, the VANILLA and SPORT Deet – both of which are in small pump sprayers – work well for direct skin treatments. Of course, the old stand by – 100% MAXIMUM DEET – is the only “low odor” deet formulation on the market today. For your clothing, use our PERMETHRIN which is completely odorless when applied. And if you have a lot of clothing to treat, get the PERMETHRIN 10 CONCENTRATE or the PERMETHRIN CLOTHING SOAK formulations. Both are odorless and can be used to impregnate clothing with Permethrin so treatments last longer when going afield.
2) Once fed, the flea will look to mate and immediately lay eggs. This can occur in the yard, the house, and on the pet.
3) In the next two to three weeks, the average life of a flea, hundreds and hundreds of eggs will be laid by this one flea. Some of these may fall in the yard, some in the house and some will remain on the pet.
4) When the eggs hatch, a small caterpillar like creature comes out to feed on anything organic. This includes dried blood, flea feces, animal hair and a variety of otherwise disgusting organic matter in the yard, in your carpet, on furniture, on your pet and basically anywhere in or outside the home.
5) These flea larva will then feed for days after which they’ll spin a cocoon and undergo metamorphosis in this stage. And it’s this third stage, the one called the flea pupa, which is the toughest thing about flea infestations. Clearly this is the worst stage of all because we can’t kill it !! That’s right! No spray will kill flea pupa consistently or completely. This is why you still have fleas following the most thorough treatment (spray or fog). And this is why you should know the flea cycle and how to break it.
6) The flea cycle will then complete once the flea pupa hatches out. But unlike most insects, fleas won’t randomly hatch. Instead, the “hatching” of pupa will only happen when it detects a hot blooded meal close at hand. Only then will the pupa risk coming out of its protective cocoon. And when it does, it will immediately bite, feed and look to breed. At that time the cycle will start all over again….
WHERE FLEAS LIVE
Now that you understand the flea cycle, let’s talk about where this flea cycle can occur. It’s in important to understand this process if you wish to do a good flea treatment. The flea cycle can occur almost anywhere. It will occur on the animal, in the yard, in a carpet, in a litter box, in a bed, in a garage, in a basement, in a crawl space, in an attic, in a doghouse, on furniture, etc. The rule is simple: any place a warm blooded animal spends time can become a flea infested location. And it’s important to understand that fleas can feed on most any animal that’s warm blooded. In other words, fleas do not discriminate. If you have blood, they can and will feed on you if given the opportunity and the food of preference is not readily available. This means they will readily bite people so yes, you can have a flea infestation AND NOT HAVE ANY PETS! It is true they prefer dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, rats, mice, and birds but if none are present, they turn their attention to the people of the house. Additionally, the most common flea found is the cat flea. But you could also have a dog flea, bird flea, rat flea, sand flea, human flea, sticktight flea, bat flea and many other species which have been named after the host where they were first discovered. The good news is that any flea treatment being done will work on any of the aforementioned flea species.
Now that you know where the flea cycle can occur, it will be easier to understand what must be done to treat the problem. Remember, it is important to understand that fleas will persist if you only address one or two locations where they are breeding. Don’t think that treating the pet will keep your home or yard flea free. The same is true about the yard. Although treating the yard before flea season starts is a good practice, only treating the yard and pet but failing to treat the home would be a big mistake. A good idea is to follow this general rule: if the pet is an inside animal, you must treat the home and the pet to insure no fleas. If the pet is an outside animal, you will need to treat the pet as well as the yard area the pet has access to. If the pet spends a lot of time both inside and out, then you will need to treat the pet, yard and the home. And if you are spraying two of the three areas but fleas are still persisting, then chances are that you need to treat the location where you are not treating. Always remember that FLEA CONTROL IS EGG CONTROL. IF YOU STOP THE EGGS FROM DEVELOPING ON THE PET, IN THE YARD AND IN THE HOME – YOU WILL ACHIEVE FLEA CONTROL! It really is that simple. Yet many homeowners will take a chance and not treat some key part of their property. They will wrongly believe their problem is “coming from my neighbor’s dogs and if I treat my yard that will stop them” or “the fleas came with my Mother-in-law when she visited with her pet and all of them stayed after she left!” These are old wives tales: the bottom line is simple – treat all areas which are subject to having flea eggs and you won’t have to worry about the eggs being able to develop. Again: flea control is egg control.
Once infested, a proper flea treatment will generally take 1-2 months to rid any structure of fleas. If done correctly, the cycle would be interrupted with the first flea treatment and once the flea pupae have all hatched out, the flea infestation will cease. Will this take a week, a month or two months? No one can say for sure because of one reason: it all depends on how many flea pupae are in your home and how long it takes for them to run their growth cycle and hatch out. It could be resolved with one flea treatment; it could take three to six weeks of flea spraying once a week for all the cycles to run their course.
What products are best to use when doing flea control? This will vary depending on where you are treating. Remember the cycle can be completed on the pet, in the house or apartment, and in the yard. This means you need to spray each area and thoroughly to get flea control. In the home, there are many materials available that work. Carpets can be sprayed using an adulticide and a growth regulator. The adulticide kills the adult stage; the growth regulator prevents the eggs from developing so they are effectively killed. A good adulticide would be ESFENVALERATE, SUSPEND or PERMETHRIN. They will all provide a good knockdown of adult fleas. As for growth regulators, go with PRECOR or FLEA FIX. These are two growth regulators which have been around for a long time and have proven to be a “must have” ingredient when one wants to achieve long-term flea control. The key here is by combining these flea products you will effectively break the flea cycle. Another good rule to follow is to rotate actives from year to year. So if you have been using Precor for some time, it is a good idea to change to the Flea Fix. You will need to use one of our SPRAYERS to do the treatment and though our smaller ones will work for apartment dwellers, the one gallon is the best investment for the long run. This short video shows the kind of “spraying” you’ll need to do.
As good as these products are, you may have to spray again within a few days of the first application. This will depend on how many flea pupae are left in the cycle following the initial treatment. One or two pupae hatching in the days following the first treatment will usually go unnoticed, but a mass hatching will be uncomfortable for those inhabiting the home and re-treatments at that point are suggested. Remember these important facts about flea pupae for a thorough understanding of what is happening in your home following a treatment.
WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU TREAT
YOU CAN’T KILL FLEA PUPAE
When you do a liquid treatment with an adulticide and a growth regulator, the adulticide kills the adult fleas which are out and about. It will also kill any larva crawling around. The growth regulator acts on the existing eggs and once they are exposed to the regulator, they will not be able to develop normally to adults. However, there will still be all the pupae which will be developing. These could take another 4-8 weeks to hatch out and sadly there is nothing that can be done to stop this from happening. The exact length of time will vary; it all depends on things like temperature, humidity, the species of flea, etc.
DO NOT KEEP PETS OR PEOPLE OUT OF ANY ROOM
Since pupae are motivated to hatch out when there is activity around them, be sure and keep people and pets active in the rooms where the flea problem is the worst. Typically, people do the all the wrong things when dealing with a flea problem. An old wives tale says that fleas are “coming from the pets”. This is far from the truth. Although the eggs may be falling from cats and dogs, the adult fleas are more than happy to live their whole life on the pet. They have no interest in people and will only feed on them when local pets aren’t accessible. This means the new fleas you are seeing are actually the pupae cocoons hatching out after completing their development. In other words, if you decide to remove a pet from the home or rooms where the flea problem was most prevalent, you will leave the pupae cocoons no choice but to seek the next available blood meal – PEOPLE! The best thing to do here is simple; leave the pet to roam just as you always have. Don’t keep it outside. It is much more comfortable for the people living in the home if the pet is inside picking up all the newly hatching fleas. This might sound cruel but clearly it’s a lot easier to treat the pet than it is to treat the people.
DO NOT VACATE ROOMS
Flea pupae are motivated by movement and body heat. They will not hatch out if a room is void of activity. In fact, one way of getting them to hatch out quicker is to use a vacuum as often as possible. Daily vacuuming will excite them and get them hatching out sooner rather than later. A vacuum with a beater-bar does a great job of getting them to hatch. An ordinary vacuum will do well too. In bad cases, customers have sped the hatching process up by walking around in long, white, tube socks. The white will reflect light and appears hot to a flea getting the coccoons to hatch. Immediately after walking around for awhile, vacuum. The effect of vacuuming and the spray in the carpet will knockdown that many more fleas which will not be able to bite. Additionally, the vacuum will actually pick up some that hatch as the vacuum passes by. Do this every day til you can do so without seeing any fleas. Although this step may sound like a lot of work, maybe this will help to motivate you to take action: FLEA COCOONS CAN LIVE OVER A FULL YEAR WAITING FOR A TARGET. Yes, a full year. This is why vacation homes that have been left vacant for 8-12 months have been found to have hundreds of fleas hatching out of the carpet when vacationers arrive. The flea pupae have been doing nothing but lying in wait for a target this whole time. This can happen in your home as well if you close a room up for a month or two expecting the fleas to simply die off. Don’t waste your time waiting; all that will happen is that when you finally go back in there the fleas will be extra aggressive!
USE FLEA TRAPS
Another way of getting the flea cocoons to hatch is the use of a HEATED FLEA TRAP. This trap is unique in that it uses heat to lure adult and pupae fleas. Look at these flea traps as a type of tool and not as a flea treatment. When placed in the middle of the infested room, it will attract fleas up to 15 feet away in both directions. This means it has an effective “reach” up to 30 feet. To the flea, the trap appears as a kitten or puppy sleeping. The following video provides more product details.
Although fleas do not like to hop, they will readily move toward the trap in hope of getting a blood meal. Once the fleas reach the trap, they will fall through a grid and land on a glue board which will catch them. Here is a picture of a flea pad from a trap that captured over 10,000 FLEAS in less than a month!
This was a bad infestation, but it did exist in a home and the people living there were unaware it had gotten to this point. Such an infestation confirms that fleas can breed to incredible density if given the chance. A more common level of infestation can be seen in the following video. In this sequence, we go to a vacated home which the owner is attempting to rent. Perspective tenants are being attacked by fleas while they view the home which is not a good way to show any property you want to rent or sell. Flea Traps are ideal for such locations as they can work 24 hours a day removing this persistent pest. Since fleas can remain dormant for so long, the use of a flea trap in this house is clearly one of the best options available for this landlord. And as the video shows, the traps will collect a bunch of fleas even when no one is present!!
ONCE A YEAR FLEA TREATMENT
Since spraying for fleas needs to be done every 3 months, some people have found the once a year FLEA GRANULES easier to use. These granules are raked into the carpet and provide control for the whole flea season. This video shows how this product looks and is applied.
Flea Granules in the carpet works great for several reasons. 1) The product is very safe; side by side safer than table salt. 2) The product is applied to the nap of the carpet which is where all the flea action and flea development is occurring. Unlike aerosols which spew their chemical all over the room, the granules seem to go where they are needed the most. 3) A good quality flea granule will last a whole year. It bonds with the carpet and ordinary vacuuming does not pick it up. Only one treatment is necessary. And the concept of NOT having to spray over and over all summer long is easy to embrace. Keep in mind, however, that the granules are a slower method of flea control. They work by dehydrating the flea eggs and larva. They generally will not kill adult fleas. If there is a large adult flea population, you may choose to put the granules out and spray with any of the adulticides listed above like the Permethrin. You would not need to use the growth regulator in the spray since the granules would be working on the eggs and larvae as the flea treatment. The adulticide will kill off any adults immediately but you still would expect to have cocoons hatching for several weeks. In general, you should expect to see fleas for up to 8 weeks if you use our flea granules only. If you use the granules and spray with an adulticide, expect the cycle to last 3-6 weeks. The same would be expected if you use the Once a Year Flea Treatment and the heated flea trap. As opposed to spraying after the cocoons have hatched, the use of several flea traps as a way to get the cocoons to hatch out quicker is proven and will do the job. As stated above, the use of the trap will motivate cocoons to hatch which in turn gets them caught so there are less flea bites experienced by those living in the structure.
HOW TO TREAT TILED OR HARDWOOD FLOORS
Another product worth mentioning is PRECOR 2000. This product is good to use on hardwood floors, tiled floors, cement or linoleum. Basically anyplace you couldn’t spray with a liquid or apply the Flea Granules. It’s applied from a can which directs a fine mist much like hair spray. When used right, it will go on dry, is odorless and won’t be noticeable. It works well on surfaces other than carpet and allows for a clean application without mess. It’s ideal to use where a liquid treatment would be too messy and the granules are not an option. It’s also much better to use on cement in basements or garages since liquid treatments are water based and tend to get absorbed. This leads to “residual loss” which in turn leaves you vulnerable to re-infestation.
HOW TO TREAT FLEAS IN GARAGE
If you have ever dealt with fleas in a garage or basement then you know how hard they can be to kill. And though Precor 2000 will prevent them from ever getting established in such locations, it’s not the best at knocking out a current, active infestation. A more permanent treatment for cement is DRIONE DUST. This desicant acting dust looks like baby powder but works great on dry cement, crawl spaces and other areas where liquid applications are not effective. Drione is a solid dust and unlike Precor, won’t break down in a week or two. Instead, a good application of Drione in a crawl space or cement floor can last 6+ months.
The only drawback is that there will be a light powdery residue over the areas which are treated, but it won’t hurt people or pets and can be deactivated at any time by just mopping it up with nothing more than water. When wet from water, the Drione is completely deactivated and is easy to clean up. It can also be removed with a good vacuum. If you don’t want to contend with the slight dust factor of the Drione, stick with the Precor 2000. Just understand you’ll probably have to treat a few times with the Precor.
Either will work a lot better then a liquid spray on porous surfaces and is really the best way to go when you get fleas in these areas and need to do a flea treatment. Of course, making sure you get a pet or person into these areas following the treatments will help break the cycle that much faster since the pupae need need movement and heat to come out of hibernation. And if no one will be in these areas, be sure to set out some FLEA TRAPS to get pupae activated and hatched.
FLEA CONTROL FOR PETS
Since the flea cycle can be completed on the pet, it is important to gain egg control in their fur and on their skin. To maintain the pet, shampoo will kill some adult fleas but probably do nothing for the flea eggs. What a good shampoo will do is remove the stuff on which flea larva feed. One of the best around is the TRIPLE PYRETHRUM SHAMPOO. It cleans the pet well, has a fresh smell and is concentrated. Following the shampoo, it is suggested that you brush the animal and then go over them carefully with a FLEA COMB. This fine tooth comb will remove hundreds if not thousands of eggs and pupae which will really help the process of getting the problem under control. If the pet is loaded with fleas, dip them first with a strong product like FLEA DIP. This product uses Permethrin as the active and works on Ticks, Fleas and the Mange. Plus it has no odor. Something else you should do is use a spray which sterilizes or kills flea eggs. It must clearly state on the label that it “kills fleas and prevents further infestations”. PETCOR not only kills adult fleas, but also kills flea eggs! For this reason you should accept no substitute. There are thousands of sprays which only kill adult fleas. These products must be sprayed on the pet over and over. This is not good for your pet nor is it convenient for you. If you have a pet which is sensitive to the Pet Spray which does have some alcohol in it, use WATER BASED PET SPRAY. Though this product does not have any flea egg killing material, it is gentle enough to use as frequently as needed since it is water based. It also has conditioners which will help to ease the discomfort of the pets fur and skin. Water Based Spray will do a good job of killing adults and larva but will need to be applied more frequently than the Petcor. The key factor which makes it different from other sprays that don’t have the egg killing material in them is that the Water Based Spray does have an active which lasts for a week or more. This means you won’t have to spray quite as much as sprays which only have Pyrethrin in them. And don’t think any of the dusts will work better then the sprays; dusts just don’t impact eggs or pupae like the sprays so they just don’t work as well. At this time, the only dust we recommend with confidence is PERMETHRIN DUST and you’ll need to apply it weekly to keep fleas in check. And don’t forget the pet resting areas and bedding. As stated earlier in our article, just treating the pet won’t work. Using one of the sprays mentioned above is imperative if you wish to break the flea cycle. And if your pet is continuing to bring in fleas from other sources, keep some spray on hand ready to apply as needed to their bedding and other rest areas. The Petcor can be be used for this as can the AQUACIDE AEROSOL. The Aquacide would be very quick acting, easy to use and very cost effective. Plus it covers a lot of area and can be used for a wide range of pests.
PRODUCTS FOR PETS WITH SENSITIVE SKIN
After a month or so of combating the fleas on the pet, pay particular attention to your pets skin. With all the spraying, you might start to notice they have developed “hot spots” where a lot of bites have occurred. These are where the pet might be continuously scratching and/or biting. It is not uncommon for these areas to become inflamed and sometimes infected if the biting and scratching won’t stop. If the pet has any such areas or just some nasty bites which are irritating it, use some of the MELALEUCA SHAMPOO and OXY MED ITCH RELIEF. The shampoo will help to clean off contaminates in the fur and on the skin at the same time providing relief from the itching and the Spray will provide immediate relief from the itch. Keep the spray close by so that you can use it as needed. Generally you will see immediate results and within a week or so all the biting and itching should stop. The Melaluca provides both relief from the discomfort the pet feels as well as promote healthy healing.
FLEA PRODUCTS FOR THE YARD
If you have a yard area outside where your pets spend a lot of time, you should definitely treat it. Over time, fleas will breed in these areas. Remember that your yard is vulnerable to every animal that walks through it and will require a good flea treatment. This includes animals like squirrels, raccoons, opossum, deer, dogs, cats, mice, rats, birds, chipmunks and people. Anyone of these animals could have fleas on them which are laying eggs. These eggs will be landing in your yard as these animals move about and will surely lead to a bad infestation if you don’t do something ahead of the development. To properly treat the outside, use a granule for long term control. Although CYFLUTHRIN G will work, its not the strongest or the longest lasting available. And products like DIATOMACEOUS EARTH aren’t practical to use either even though it does work. These type of materials have a good impact when first applied but all it takes is one light rain or watering of the yard and all the material applied will be washed away. The bottom line is if you are going to take the time to treat around the home, it makes sense to use the strongest and longest lasting product available. Right now, we have found that product to be BIFEN G. Apply them with one of our GRANULE SPREADERS. Expect to get 2-3 months of protection per application so most areas will need 2-3 treatments per year. Furthermore, like other granules, Bifen needs to be activated with water to start working on fleas and flea larva. They are designed to be time released so they break down slowly. This enables them to withstand the rain and sun. The trade off is that they are slow to kill adult fleas. For a quick knockdown of these adults, use a liquid concentrate and spray over the top of the granules. TEMPO works well for this application. It will control a bunch of pests and works particularly well for ticks, chiggers and fleas. Tempo is concentrated so you need to apply it with a bunch of water. The best way to do this application is with a HOSE END SPRAYER. Simply pour the concentrate into the sprayer, hook it to your hose, set the dial and spray away. This sprayer does a good job of applying the product properly and it’s easy to use. If you have a small area to treat, the CYONARA RTS comes with it’s own sprayer so all you have to do is hook it to your garden hose and you’re ready to start treating. For small jobs, the combo of sprayer and chemical all ready to go is handy.
Remember, flea season will be a long one if you don’t do preventive flea maintenance and flea treatments before the season starts. With fleas, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. Treat your yard with granules before fleas start to get active. If you already have fleas outside in the yard, apply granules and then liquid treat with some Tempo for a quick knockdown. Use the same approach inside. Apply the carpet granules before you get fleas and they’ll never have a chance to start an infestation. If you have a healthy population inside that you need to knock out, it will require an adulticide with a growth regulator. Several fleat treatments will probably be necessary to break the cycle. If you want the best there is then apply the granules and spray an adulticide for established flea infestations. This one – two combination will control even the toughest flea infestation if you remain constant and treat as often as needed. Since we know the flea cycle can be completed on the pet itself, be sure to treat your cat or dog with a material that will get the adults, the eggs and the pupae. Flea control is simple: stop the flea eggs and you’ll stop the fleas!