A DISCUSSION OF FLEA CONTROL FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
We have clients come into our office who indicate the flea treatment they are using on their pet is ineffective. There are usually several reasons for this ineffectiveness and we are going to cover some key points that are critical to flea control.
First, adult fleas are only 1% to 5% of any given flea population. For this reason, killing adult fleas on the pet with shampoos, powders, or sprays is useless as you are only attacking 1% to 5% of the problem. Effective flea control involves treating all pets on the premises, the home if pets are inside the home, and the yard.
Okay, let's talk about yard treatment. Any good yard spray, such as diazinon, that is approved for fleas in the yard is effective. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, consider using a granular instead. They tend to last in the environment a little longer than sprays. The key to treating the yard is it must be done weekly for 4 weeks to break the flea life cycle, then usually once a month for control. If you do not have a fenced yard, then control is more difficult, but you can still spray a radius of 200 feet around your house that will aid in control. Furthermore, do not let your animal lie in places that are breeding grounds for flea larvae, such as underneath decks or heavy bushes/brush. See below for active ingredients that are effective for yard treatment.
As far as the house is concerned, if your pet comes in the house, you do have some fleas in the house whether you see them or not, because all flea eggs are laid on the pet's coat and fall off in the environment. Therefore, if your pet comes in the house, the house must be treated with an insect growth regulator that not only kills adult fleas, but also prevents the hatching of eggs and growth of the larvae that are in the carpet.
What if your pet never goes outside? They should be safe, right? No!! You go outside, therefore you can track in flea eggs from your clothes and shoes. Yes, fleas, their larvae and eggs can hitchhike into the home from us.
Begin with vacuuming your house well: floors, under furniture, and especially in the corners of the rooms. Make sure to throw the vacuum bag away to prevent the little "buggers" from crawling back out. Don't add anything to the vacuum bag, like moth balls, as these release toxins when heated. Just throw the bag away. Then apply an insect growth regulator (see below for examples) to the floors, closets, and carpet. This product must also be applied to cloth furniture as flea eggs will also be in these areas. All bedding should be washed in hot water and pet bedding should be replaced. Non-carpeted areas can be wet mopped to pick up any additional flea eggs and non-cloth furniture wiped down. Again, make sure the product you choose says insect growth regulator on the label.
Remember, when you only kill the adult fleas, you are only treating 1% to 5% of the problem.
External Environmental Control Includes:
1) restriction of pet from good flea breeding areas
2) sanitation - mow/rake/remove debris
3) chemicals - carbamates, organophosphates, and insect growth regulators (like pyriproxifen, methoprene, and sodium polyborate [Borax])
4) using biopesticides that eat the flea pupae and larvae such as Steinernema carpocapsae
Inside Environment Control:
2) Treating the animal with Frontline or Advantage, etc
3) Insect Growth Regulators Sprayed on Environment (methoprene [degraded by sunlight], pyriproxifen [sunlight stable], sodium polyborate [Borax as an example]
There are insect growth regulator products that can be used in the household. A few good examples include Knockout (made by Virbac) and Nylar.