Check out this excellent guest post article on management of fleas from our friends at GL Pest Control!
What To Do If You Have Fleas In Your House
Flea infestations can be more than just annoying. They can cause serious skin issues for you and your pets if fleas are left to run their course. If you find that your home is infested with these miniscule pests, what should you do first?
Getting a handle on a potential flea infestation requires some detective work and a lot of hard work for homeowners. Pets are often the most common reason for flea infestations, so it makes sense to look to them for fleas first. If you think that you might have fleas in your home, keep reading – we’ll explain how you can tell and what you should do:
How to Tell If You Have Fleas in Your Home
Pets are the most notorious reason that homes become infested with fleas. Their furry coats are often home to hordes of fleas that later become unwanted guests in your home. If you want to identify fleas early, you should pay close attention to your furry friends. They are typically your first clue that you have an infestation of fleas in your home.
The first thing you can do is check your pet for evidence of fleas. It is likely that they have fleas if you find them constantly scratching. Call your four-legged friend close and separate the hairs on their coat to see if you can spot any of the small insects. Keep in mind that they hop around from place to place, so you might have to look hard to spot them.
According to the owner of GL Pest Control, you might be better off to look for signs that fleas were present instead of the fleas themselves. Flea feces are commonly left on your pet. They might look like red or black specks on the skin, something that closely resembles small scabs.
If you have a hard time looking at your pet’s fur, the best thing to do is comb it with a fine-toothed comb. Run it through a section of the fur on the neck or around the tail and then check the comb for signs of flea feces or actual fleas.
There are two other hot spot areas where fleas tend to congregate within the home. The first area is pet beds or anywhere that your pet routinely lays down. This could mean the couch or even your own bed. Check these areas for little signs that look a lot like salt and pepper. This could be a symptom of a more serious infestation where the fleas have already laid eggs that are about to hatch. Alternatively, you might see fleas actively hopping around on pet bedding.
The second hot spot is in your carpet. They love to curl up and get comfortable deep within the fibers of your carpet. Unfortunately, there is only one good way to tell if they have already moved into your home this way. Put on a thick pair of white socks and move around the house. Chances are that some of the fleas will jump onto your socks if you have a real problem.
Treating Fleas on Your Dog or Cat
Before you can manage the flea infestation in your home, you have to eliminate the problem at its source. Figure out where your pet contracted the fleas, whether it was in your own backyard or at a doggy daycare. Once you know where the fleas came from, you can either treat them there or avoid going to those places in the future.
You have to treat the animal for fleas before you start cleaning up your home. Using a fine-toothed comb or a special flea comb purchased from the pet store, and start combing your pet’s fur. Each time you make a pass through their hair with the comb, rinse it in a bowl of hot soapy water to kill the fleas you removed. Pay attention to their neck and tail area for the best results. Do this with all of your pets and then shampoo them in a special flea bath.
If you live in an area where fleas are relatively common, then you should talk with your veterinarian about prevention. There are many different options for treating fleas in your pet before an infestation becomes an issue. You can usually choose between topical applications, oral supplements, spot treatments, shampoos, and more.
Keep in mind that you must treat all animals within the home the same way. For example, you may know that the dog goes outside and contracts fleas in the yard. Even though your indoor cat never comes into contact with those backyard pests, it still needs to be treated for fleas at the same time as a preventative measure.
Treating Fleas in the Home
Besides calling in a pest control company, there are a few things you can do to manage a flea infestation on your own. If the problem is relatively minor, then these simple actions might be the only thing that you need to do in order to get the issue under control.
Start by identifying the areas of your home that are most affected by the fleas. Vacuum them thoroughly including all upholstery, pet beds, carpets, rugs, and any other surface you can find. Pick everything up off the floor so you can get into every nook and cranny. This means clearing large items off the floors of your closet, clearing out underneath the beds, and more.
When you are finished, you must discard the accumulated debris. If your vacuum has a bag, pull it out and tie it shut immediately before placing it outside the house. A bagless vacuum should be emptied into a plastic bag and tied shut, immediately placing it outside. This should kill most of the fleas but it is far from the last step.
Doing this vacuuming step just once is not going to be enough to get rid of fleas and their larvae. You will need to do this type of vacuuming every other day for the next two to four weeks.
Don’t forget that you need to clean your hard surface floors too. Sweep and mop these as the manufacturer recommends to keep them clean and to prevent flea larvae from making their home here also.
The next thing you need to do is steam-clean or shampoo the carpets. You can purchase a nice quality cleaner for a couple hundred dollars or rent one from a big-box home improvement store for less. Alternatively, you could schedule a professional cleaning company to come in and do the heavy lifting for you.
Last but not least, you need to wash everything that you can. This includes all of your pet’s bedding, the fabric on your couch cushions, all of the blankets in the affected area, and even your own bedding if the cat or dog sleeps in this area. Hot water should be used to effectively kill the fleas, followed up by a long session in the dryer.
Harmful Chemicals and the Environment
If this approach does not work, you may want to bring in professionals who can apply insecticide to break the reproductive cycle of the fleas. They will be able to eliminate adult fleas and prevent the eggs from hatching and developing into full-grown fleas. It may not be safe for you to be in the home for a few hours after application. You will still have to routinely vacuum to suck up the fleas as they die.
When using chemicals to get rid of pests, you must always be aware of what you are using and what it is doing to the environment in your home and outside your home. Harmful chemicals affect the environment. One of the leading contaminants in commercial cleaners are volatile organic compounds, often abbreviated as VOCs. They are non-biodegradable and often make their way into the waterways, killing important sea life and organisms.
They are even released into the air which can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat almost immediately. As a more long-term problem, VOCs can cause ozone layer depletion and contribute to global warming. It should come as no surprise that more health problems accompany this issue including an increase in malignant melanoma.
If these issues were not enough to make you reconsider using harsh chemicals to treat for fleas, consider how many of these chemicals you might be eating. Chemicals that make it into the waterway are consumed by fish. This same water ends up in the soil where our crops are planted. The food you eat is literally filled with these harmful chemicals, so it makes sense that more diseases and cancers are prominent issues.
Getting Rid of Pests
Fleas can be quite a nuisance in your home, and getting rid of them is anything but easy. However, you can begin to tackle the challenge with a few of these simple tips and tricks. Remember that it may be necessary to call in the professionals if the infestation is rather advanced. It can be a quick way to kill off a large population of fleas that are really driving you crazy.
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