Fleas, these little bloodsucking pests not only are irritating to man and beast alike, but can also cause severe skin problems in both dogs and cats. The adult dog flea is a wingless insect equipped with a set of powerful hind legs that enable it to jump nine inches straight up or five feet sideways. Adult fleas feed only on blood.
Today with all our modern pesticides, we live comparatively free of pests like fleas. But if we lose access to modern pesticides and have to take a step back in time, we would find life to be very different.
Today I had a talk with my parents about how they handled fleas on the farm he was raised on. Now my parents are in their 90s. I asked my father what they did for fleas and his answer was scratch. He said they kept the dogs out of the house, and would wipe the dogs and occasionally people with kerosene.
My mother brought up South Africa where I spent part of my childhood. When you got up in the morning the maid would fold your covers back while the bed was still warm and catch all the fleas they could. We used some flea powers that were available, but they did not work well.
The best way to get rid of fleas is to have a large stock of modern pesticides and flea colliers for our pets. But since most of us don’t stock enough pesticides for one reason or another, I will talk about alternate methods of killing fleas.
One of most important things to know about fleas is that the majority of its life is spent away from the host animal. Fleas invade our pets only when they are hungry. The female flea prefers to lay her eggs not on your pet, but in dark, damp places such as cracks in the floor or a corner of the basement.
Most flea eggs are laid when humidity is high and temperatures are moderate between 65° to 85° F. Eggs hatch in 2-6 days. The resulting larvae stay close to the site where they hatched, feeding on feces left behind by adults. The larvae avoid the sunlight. This is why larvae will be found in dark areas, such as under cushions, deep in carpet fibers, and behind or under furniture.
To get rid of fleas in your home in a emergency situation, I recommend that you keep all your dogs and cats outside. If you have fleas in your home, begin with a thorough cleaning. Pay special attention to dark, damp places where fleas may have deposited their eggs. If you have a working vacuum, the cleaner bag shouldn’t be left in the closet, since the flea eggs it contains can hatch and reinfect your house. Empty the bag and burn the contents, or seal the sweepings in a plastic trash bag and dispose of it properly.
There are a couple of methods that have been suggested to me by elderly people, they swear these work, but as of yet I have not had the chance to try them.
Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray on fleas.
Salt. Can be used effectively against large infestations of fleas? Salting and vacuuming your floors and furniture kills the flea’s eggs by dehydrating them. If you take this route, it takes some work and patients. Just remember in the past they normally had wood floors and took the carpet outside and beat them over the clothesline.
Use powdered herbs such as rosemary, rue, wormwood, pennyroyal, eucalyptus, or citronella, and sometimes tobacco powder. You can dust the powder, or just diatomaceous earth, in all the nooks and crannies you can’t reach by vacuuming
Keeping fleas off your pets.
Healthy pets get fewer fleas keep them well fed. Frequent grooming is essential to keep fleas away from your pet. Shampooing with a mild soap like Dawn will kill fleas by drowning. Afterward, a lemon rinse will leave a citrus odor that will help repel fleas for a while.
Many dogs and cats seem to benefit in the fight against fleas from the addition of garlic and brewer’s yeast to their diets. When these substances are metabolized, an odor (and flavor) that fleas find very unattractive develops in the skin.
Wash the animals bedding regularly. Ninety percent of fleas are found where the animal sleeps.” Make a bed for your dog that is filled with cedar chips.
In a real emergency the best thing is to keep your pets outside and have a good stock of pesticides, flea colliers and soaps.