How to Get Rid of Fleas
Fleas are parasites that feed on humans and other warm-blooded animals. Fleas prefer to feed on nonhumans. They will feed on humans when infestations are heavy or when other hosts are not available. Fleas usually require warm and humid conditions to develop. A flea can jump 7 to 8 inches vertically and 14 to 16 inches horizontally and consume up to 10-15 times their body weight in blood per day.
The best time to start a flea control program is in the late spring before you get adult fleas. Since most of the adult flea population live on your pets, start your flea control program with flea control pet treatments and an IGR for your premises for the duration of the warm months.
If you have a full blown flea infestation, fleas must be controlled at every stage of their life cycle. Adult fleas comprise only 5% of the total flea population, so use flea control products that attack both the adults and larvae.. Understanding their life cycle will help you get rid of fleas.Combination flea kits (Liquids-to be mixed in a pump sprayer ) contain flea control products to get rid of fleas both inside and outside your home, targeting every stage. They contain both a liquid insecticide to kill the adult stages and an IGR to stop the flea cycle.
Flea Contol Aerosols combine an insecticide and an IGR in a pressurized insecticide. Without needing to mix chemicals, flea control aerosols are a convenient way to get rid of fleas inside that works on all floor surfaces.
A skin reaction to a flea bite appears as a slightly raised and red itchy spot. Sometimes these sores bleed. Many people don't realize they have a flea infestation until they are away from their house for an extended period. When they return home, they discover a flea problem. When you return, they become active because they are looking for a blood meal to lay eggs. People tend to think to put the pet outside will solve the flea problem, but that typically makes the fleas turn to human hosts instead.
In the pet's environment, these various life cycle stages occur, but these stages are concentrated in the areas that the pet spends most of its time, such as the pet's bed area. Remember, when the adult flea lays an egg on the pet, it will fall off the hairs in just a few minutes onto areas the pet moves. These flea eggs become very small larvae (worm-like). The larvae seek protection deep in carpet fibers, under cushions, and cracks and crevices. After the larvae stage, they move into the cocoon stage with pupae inside, which may remaim up to six weeks.
If the pet usually walks through certain paths (either indoors or outdoors), there will also be a substantial amount of eggs scattered in those areas; similar to sowing seeds in a garden. What this means is that flea control must be spread over the pet's entire environment, focusing on the areas the pet spends the majority of its time. The sleeping areas and walking paths are the most important areas both indoors and outdoors.
Steps To Get Rid of Fleas Inside
- Inside your home prepare the floor surfaces by dusting, sweeping, vacuuming and mopping all surfaces where pets have been frequently. Eggs are laid on the pet and drop off as it moves. All affected pets should be treated and removed from the premises for 4 to 6 hours. Remove birds from the home before treatments with liquid insecticides or aerosols. Cover or remove fish, and turn off the tank pump.
- C hoose from one of the two methods outlined below as flea control treatment options..
- We suggest using the liquid/IGR method or our recommended flea control aerosols with IGRs on area on all floor surfaces, paying attention to where your pet spends its time. If your pet is on the couch, treat it as well (after testing a small inconspicuous spot for staining).
- You should keep covered shoes on until all treated areas have dried (4-6 hours).
Two Control Treatment Methods To Use:
Liquid Residual Insecticides and IGR (Insect Growth Regulators) combinations: FenvaStar EcoCap or FenvaStar Plus are liquid insecticide residual treatments. Using a residual insecticide concentrate controls the adult flea and combining it with an insect
growth regulators (IGR) such as Martin's IGR Insect Growth Regulator or Tekko Pro IGR prevent the larvae from developing into the cocoon stage, stopping the cycle. This flea control treatment lasts 4-6 months. To get rid of fleas, it is essential to stop the flea cycle with an IGR, which may take up to six weeks. You may apply the IGR by itself if you start before the cycle begins. Flea season starts in the spring time and lasts thru tfall months. Unfortunately, some IGRs do not work well outside, since the sunshine will break them down.
We recommend Tekko Pro IGR for the outside
- Carpets/Rugs surfaces: If you have mainly carpets and rugs, use the FenvaStar Plus and Martin's IGR or Tekko IGR combination mixed with water in a pump sprayer (see mixture below).
- Hard floor surfaces: If you have mainly hard floor surfaces, use the FenvaStar EcoCap and Tekko IGR or Martin's IGR combination mixed with water in a pump sprayer (see mixture below) The EcoCap formulation adhears better to hard surfaces than the FenvaStar Plus. You may also use our recommended flea control aerosols. However, if you have real hardwood floors, you may not want a water based product on your floors. If that is the case, choose a Flea Control Aerosol that has the insecticide and IGR combined.
- Fenvastar Plus- 16 oz yields 20 gallons at the recommended concentration (good only on carpet and rugs; has an odor)
- FenvaStar EcoCap-8 oz yields 4 gallons, gallon yields 64 gallons at the recommended concentration (good on all floor surfaces: carpet, rugs and hard surfaces, has a low odor)
Mix the residual insecticide and growth inhibitor in a pressure lawn and garden sprayer according to directions.
For every 1,000 square feet of carpeted surface, mix:
- Cover fish aquariums and pets' food and water dishes before spraying and remove pets. Keep all people off the treated wet surface. Restrict these areas until the floor surfaces dry.
- 2.0 oz - FenvaStar Eco Cap + 1 oz of your choice of an IGR (Tekko Pro IGR or Martin's IGR or Precor) + 1 gallon of water (Recommended for concrete surfaces, carpets, rugs, and hard floor surfaces)
- 0.83 oz.- FenvaStar Plus +. 1 oz of your choice of IGR (Tekko Pro IGR or Martin's IGR or Precor) + 1 gallon of water (Recommended for rugs and carpets)
- Recommended rates above are for maximum strength and effectiveness.
- NOTE: For hardwood or tile, these formulations will cover 1,500 sq, however the FenvaStar Plus doesn't work as well as the FenvaStar EcoCap on hard floor surfaces.
- Use all mixed solution the same day you mix it, because it does not store well.
- Expect to continue seeing fleas the first month. These are pupa that continue to emerge. Results from the growth inhibitor cannot be judged for about four -six weeks after initial treatment. Re-treatment with the residual insecticide will probably be necessary during the first 30 days.
- The IGR will last on average about 4 months, and can last 6 to 7 months.
- ( Recommended flea control aerosols may be used on all types of floor surfaces (except concrete), which most people choose for convenience.)
Flea Control Aerosols: Alpine Flea and Bedbug IGR Spray , FLEE Plus IGR Carpet Spray, or Pivot Ultra Plus are complete aerosol products for flea treatments because they have insecticides and IGRs combined with active ingredients to provide quick knockdowns. Many people find that these aerosols are the most convenient choices to get rid of fleas because you don't have to mix any products in your tank sprayer.
Pivot Ultra Flea/Tick IGR, FLEE Plus IGR, and PT Alpine Flea and Bedbug aerosols are our recommended aerosol products because they have a newer chemistry with better results than many of the current flea control aerosols on the market. Using an aerosol instead of a liquid insecticide/IGR combination is advantageous because you don't have to mix anything in a pump sprayer. This method lasts 4-6 months.
Aerosols : Best Choice for Hard Surfaces Inside (May be used on carpets and rugs)
Pivot Ultra Aerosols, or Alpine Flea Aerosols are the best choices for hard floor surfaces, such as laminate, tile, and hardwood flooring ( and may be used on carpets or rugs). Aerosols do not work as well on concrete surfaces.These aerosols adhere to the surface more readily than other liquid insecticides. They contain the IGRs and adult insecticides in one formultation, no mixing needed. They have a slight odor. In most cases, you will need to spray twice. The first time to get the flea cycle cut and kill adult fleas and the second time in about 10-14 days as you wait for the complete cycle to stop and you need immediate relief (fleas are still emerging from the cocoon stages).
Get Rid of Fleas Outside
- Recommended Outside Flea Control Treatment Products
- An exterior flea problem can be caused by your pets and/or other animals in the area. Exterior treatment is most effective in a contained area that is kept mowed and free of debris.
- Liquid concentrates for flea control would be faster, but would require frequent retreatments(once a month)
- For short term results (but faster results), a recommended insecticide to kill the adult fleas is Bifen IT. Mix at the rate of 1 oz. per gallon of water. Use about 2 gallons of water per 1,500 -3000 sq. feet. Repeat once a month. To enhance the Bifen IT, add an insect growth regulator to cut the flea cycle. Apply Tekko Pro IGR with the Bifen IT for the first two sprayings. Spray where the pets frequent or where the fleas are prevalent. Use a hand pump sprayer or a hose end sprayer. We have Indoor/Outdoor Kits with Bifen IT and Tekko Pro IGR combined.
- For long term results (but slower results), a recommended granulated insecticide to kill the adult fleas would be Bifen LP Granulars. This should be repeated every 2-3 months. For every 1,0000 sq. ft. of ground use: Bifen LP- Granules-25 lbs. This should be repeated at least once every two -three months during the flea season.
- Bifen LP and Bifen IT will work on ticks as well at the same rate of dosage.
Get Rid Of Fleas On Your Pet
If possible,consult your vet about the health and skin condition of your pet prior to treatment. Begin flea control treatmentson the pet by using a mild shampoo and a sponge-type flea dip, flea spray, or flea shampoo.
- Flee Trigger Spray-Same active ingredient as Frontline's Fipronil, but in a spray form
- Petcor Flea Spray: Kills fleas, ticks, lice and mosquitoes and prevents further infestations for up to 63 days. May be used on dogs, puppies, cats and kittens.
- Davis D'Limonene Shampoo: Davis's D' Limonene Shampoo contains 5% D' Limonene ( an orange peel extract) to provide an insecticide-free, all natural shampoo that may be used on puppies, kittens, dogs and cats (over 12 weeks old).
- Pure Planet Natural Flea and Tick Spray On Shampoo: Contains all natural ingredients to kill fleas and ticks
- Invade Bio Zap : Contains enzymes to break down and eliminate bad odors caused from urine, feces, vomit or decaying organic matter environmentally friendly in a ready to use formula.
Understanding Fleas: Identification and Biology
The two most common fleas in the USA are the cat and dog fleas. Cat and dog fleas closely resemble each other. Cat fleas are more common and, most often, found in and around homes.
Cat fleas can host tapeworms, a parasite of dogs and cats.
When a flea bites, it contains flea saliva that stimulates an immune response that causes itching. It may produce an allergic reaction in pets.
Fleas are parasites that feed on humans and other warm-blooded animals. Fleas prefer to feed on nonhumans. They will feed on humans when infestations are heavy or when other hosts are not available. Fleas usually require warm and humid conditions to develop. A flea can jump 7 to 8 inches vertically and 14 to 16 inches horizontally. A skin reaction to a flea bite appears as a slightly raised and red itchy spot. Sometimes these sores bleed.
- When a flea infestation is discovered, putting the pet outside is not a solution. The hungry fleas will direct all of their attention to the human hosts.
- The cat flea is the most common type of flea. It feeds on dogs and humans also.
- Fleas are attracted to body head, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide.
- Fleas are small and wingless insects that average 1/12 to 1/6 inch long but can be smaller in size. The adult flea's body is narrow from side to side when viewed head-on. This slim body allows it to move between an animal's fur or on the nap of carpets and rugs.
- Spines: They are covered with spines to facilitate the movement in the fur as well. These spines make it difficult to remove the flea by just shaking or scratching.
- Mouthparts: Fleas have piercing-sucking mouthparts to penetrate the skin and suck blood.
- Legs: The legs on fleas are powerful, which permit them to jump as high as 7-8 inches vertically and 14-16 inches horizontally.
Adult fleas feed on blood and the larvae eat "flea diet" consisting of dried blood.
Habits and Biology of Fleas
Fleas require warm (70-85 degrees F) and humid (greater than 50% relative humidity) conditions to develop flea infestations.
The larvae are very sensitive to humid conditions, so flea problems seem to peak in the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Fleas have a hard time surviving outside under dry conditions.
Fleas go through a complete metamorphosis. There are four distinct stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult. Flea eggs are laid on the host or are deposited on the floor or ground. These eggs do not remain attached to the host but fall to the ground such as pet's bedding or floor surface. They are often found in upholstery or pet's bedding.
A female flea lays a few eggs every day until she has yielded up to 200 to 400 eggs. These eggs develop into flea larvae within two days to several weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity. Flea larvae are active and look like maggots. The larvae feed on organic debris, but particularly like to feed on feces of the adult fleas. This "flea diet" contains undigested blood. The flea larvae are hard to spot and are found deep in the carpets or the cracks and crevices of floors and upholstery. They are very difficult to vacuum because they get entwined in the carpet fibers.
The pupae or cocoon stage are also hard to spot. Under warm/moist conditions many adult fleas emerge from this protective cocoon within 7 to 14 days, longer under less favorable conditions.
Whenever you see adult fleas crawling on your pet, it is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Current studies indicate that adult fleas account for only 5% of the total flea population. Eggs account for 50%, larvae account for about 35%, and the remaining 10% are the pupa cocoons. That means that for every single adult flea living on your dog or cat, there are ten eggs, seven larvae, and two cocoons.
In the pet's environment, these various life cycle stages occur, but concentrated in the areas that the pet spends most of its time, such as the pet's bed area. Remember, when the adult flea lays an egg on the pet, it will fall off the hairs in just a few minutes onto areas the pet moves. These flea eggs become very small larvae (worm-like). The larvae seek protection deep in carpet fibers, under cushions, and cracks and crevices. After the larvae stage, they move into the cocoon stage with pupae inside, which may remaim up to six weeks.
If the pet usually walks through certain paths (either indoors or outdoors), there will also be a substantial amount of eggs scattered in those areas; similar to sowing seeds in a garden. What this means is that environmental flea control must be spread over the pet's entire environment, focusing on the areas the pet spends the majority of its time. The sleeping areas and walking paths are the most important areas both indoors and outdoors.
Q: I sprayed for fleas last week and now they are back. Why didn't the spray work?
A: Even sprays that contain insecticides and growth inhibitors have difficulty penetrating the pupae cocoon. Flea larva that have entered a cocoon state will require follow up applications of the insecticides after they hatch. This is usually a 3 or 4 week process.