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Flea Control


Summary: Flea control is fairly easy if you follow some basic steps, careful not to skip over any of preparation details. There is some work involved in flea control, but it is not impossible.

Jenni C asks:

How do you get rid of the fleas in a home with hardwood floors? No matter what we do, they are not going away. After 2 professional sprayings we just found more adult fleas last night! We vacuum every single day. The pros are coming to spray today for a third time.

Dear Jenni:

There's nothing worse than having a persistent case of fleas. This is especially so when you think you are doing all the right things to get rid of them, only to discover you still are being bitten.

Here's the deal regarding effective flea control. Success is dependent upon pre-treatment preparation. Too many times people tell me they have set off lots of flea œbombs and they still have fleas. Sometimes I am amazed at how people are taken in by advertising. œBuy this product and say goodbye to fleas forever shouts the label on a flea aerosol product. But, fact is, no pesticide is designed to filter into every crack and crevice to ferret out hiding insects.

The treatment must include an insect growth regulator, also known as an IGR, plus a flea adulticide. One product that combines the two is Precor 2000 Plus. If you have large spaces to treat you might want to mix your own insect growth regulator and adulticide in a  compressed air sprayer.

All pest control treatments start with eliminating clutter. A messy or crowded room is an insect's friend. Every little space provides protective cover for the insect. Protection from the insect œbombs you continue to set off. And, each time you put one of those œbombs to work, the offending insect crawls deeper and deeper into better and more untouchable hiding places.

Pick up all clothing from the floor and furniture and hang it up or put it through the wash. Take everything out from under the bed or other furniture. Nothing should be touching the floor other than the legs of pieces of furniture.

Get rid of cardboard boxes. Why are you living out of cardboard boxes in the first place? You live in a house or apartment. Cardboard has all of those tight little corrugated spaces where insects love to lay their eggs. Throw them to the curb.

If you have a pet it is time to determine to which rooms the pet as access. If your pet follows you into every room try to determine if the pet has a favorite spot where it likes to rest. What pieces of furniture does your pet favor. If you own a cat you may have to look higher, such as on top of the refrigerator or on a book shelf.

By the way, get your pet to the vet for a flea bath and, perhaps, some medication to fight flea reinfestation like Advantage Flea Control or Frontline Flea Control. The vet has lots of flea products from which to choose. There are pros and cons to these meds, so make sure you work with your vet to get the type that best suits your pet. Keep your pet out of your home until all these preparations and treatments have been completed.

Once you have cleaned up the clutter and you have a clear understanding about your pet's favorite spots, drag out the vacuum cleaner. It is essential that you vacuum with a beater-bar-type vac. Canister vacs just don't beat a carpet enough to dislodge sticky flea eggs. Nor does a canister vac have enough power to pull adult fleas out of tangled carpet fibers. Keep in mind, fleas are often found hiding at the base of carpet fibers. I also recommend using a vac with a throw-away collection bag. It's really hard to clean out tiny fleas from bag-free vacs.

Vacuum every inch of carpeted and non-carpeted flooring. Even hardwood floors can provide great hiding places for fleas. The tiny space between hardwood planks provides plenty of room for tiny fleas to lay their eggs.  It you have throw-rugs you will have to vacuum both sides of the rug. Using a crevice tool, vacuum the baseboards and spaces under wall mounted heaters.

Now get to work on all the fabrics and upholstery. Any place or thing where the pet sleeps has to be cleaned. If you allow your pet on your bed, strip the bed and wash everything in hot water, followed by a time in a hot dryer. If your pet sleeps on an upholstered piece of furniture you will need to thoroughly vacuum the pillows and deep crevices of the couch or chair. Don't forget the hit the underside, as well. Don't be gentle. A rough rake using the vac tools will help to dislodge the eggs and adults.

Even if you do not own a pet you can still get fleas from someone who carries the fleas into your home. You can also get fleas from an animal making its home under your floor in a crawl space. Try to track down the source before you begin your effort.

Read the product labels completely and carefully. The instructions will tell you how much material to apply to a certain square footage. The instructions will also tell you where to spray and, very specifically, where to avoid spraying.

Detailed cleaning and treatment are the key elements to good flea control. If you do not have the skills to read and follow the instructions on a pesticide label, call a pest professional to do the work. The best pros will provide you with a written pre-treatment instruction sheet. Ask if they do this before hiring a pro. If they don't provide this document, move on to the next company until you find someone qualified to treat your problem.



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