If you have ever had flea problems, you probably know that getting rid of fleas seems to be practically impossible. You’ve tried different insecticides, sprays, and all sorts of natural solutions, but nothing seemed to work. Fleas can infect humans and pets alike, and can develop in various environments. In other words, fleas are strong insects that have this miraculous capacity to be re-born out of their own ash, just like the Phoenix. You are probably wondering: ok, fleas are strong, but there has to be a way to get rid of them. How do I get rid of fleas? Read further and you will find an answer.
Why people do not manage to get rid of fleas?
Most people have a hard time getting rid of fleas because they make one big mistake: they do not take into consideration the flea life cycle. Fleas have different developmental stages, and the substances that are used to kill, for example, adult fleas, have little or no effect at all on, let’s say, eggs. So, even though you manage to kill all the adult fleas in your house, you will realize that, after some time, fleas reappear. And that is because, in the meantime, the eggs you didn’t manage to kill have become adults, and are now thriving.
A few things about fleas and their life cycle
Fleas are scientifically called Siphonaptera, and the most common type of flea is the cat flea. You might not have a cat, and still be infested with cat fleas. The reason is that cat fleas infest not only cats, but also dogs and humans. The fleas feed with mammalian blood. Their saliva is irritating, and that is what causes the itchy sensation of flea bites.
The four stages of a flea’s life are: egg, larva, pupa and adult flea. Their life cycle can be as short as a few weeks or as long as several months. Fleas thrive in moist and warm environments.
Let’s find out how to get rid of fleas in house.
Getting rid of fleas step 1 – the environmental approach
Once you realize you have fleas in house, the first thing you have to do is to quarantine your pets and remove all the eggs, larvae and pupae that live in the environment. Fleas leave their eggs on the host, or in the environment, so there is a great chance there are hundreds of eggs in your bed, and on your carpets. A flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day! Therefore, getting rid of fleas means getting rid of their eggs, first.
Wash carpets and bedding with a strong detergent. This should eliminate the eggs. Vacuum the entire house. In order to kill larvae, you could wash your carpets with an insecticide, or have them steam-washed. Some flea-removal companies offer an infra-red treatment for carpets that kills all the flea stages.
A good idea would be to look for an insecticide with an insect growth regulator that prevents early developmental stages from turning into adult fleas. You can find some more suggestions of good insecticides that can be used to kill the fleas on Wikipedia.
Finally, because fleas love moist environments, try to dehumidify your house by vacuum it and turning air conditioning on. Keep a low temperature inside your house, because fleas cannot live in cold environments.
Getting rid of fleas step 2 – kill animal fleas
Then, use the Integrated Pest management approach that suggests using different substances in order to kill different flea stages. Use an insecticide to kill adult fleas, and a growth inhibitor substance that prevents larvae and pupae from turning into adults. Whatever substance you choose, you have to use it for at least half a year, to make sure you kill all the fleas, eggs, larvae and pupae that live in your pet’s fur.
You have to be very careful when choosing insecticides, because the substances can harm not only the fleas, but also your pet. You can also use a flea collar, although it might not prove to be very effective.
Take good care of your pet, and comb its fur with a fine toothed comb that can eliminate flea eggs. Also, try to limit your pet’s time spent outdoors, at least for a short period of time.
Getting rid of fleas step 3 – kill human fleas
If you have been infested with fleas, it is very important to maintain perfect hygiene. Bathe regularly with soap and shampoo. Wash your clothes as frequently as possible. There are some insecticide shampoos that you could try, but they are quite strong and might irritate your skin.
Most people are not interested only in getting rid of fleas, but on getting rid of the itchy sensation their bites causes, as well. There are some soothing creams you could try, like hydrocortisone. Avoid scratching the affected area, because the risk of intensifying the itchy sensation is high.
Getting rid of fleas step 4 – flea control
If you manage to get rid of fleas, you have to take all the precautions that they will not return. By following a few simple rules, you could prevent a future flea infestation:
- Bathe your pets regularly, and use a flea comb daily to remove any dirt or possible flea eggs.
- Restrict their access to the yard or other possibly contaminated areas (garage, basement).
- Vacuum you house every day and maintain a low humidity level and a low temperature inside.
- Wash the bedding and carpets regularly. Keep the place where you pet sleeps perfectly clean.
- Steam-clean the carpets as frequently as possible.
Finding the best way to get rid of fleas is difficult. Getting rid of fleas forever implies a complex approach, and a combination of different solutions, depending on the degree of infestation, the host’s characteristics and the life stage of the fleas.