Getting rid of unwanted guests in your house!

This is a great article concerning Fleas in your home.  Our OSU Horticulture Educator George Driever shared this information with me and thought it would be great to offer on the News Star Blog for home owners to see.

The most common fleas that are found in homes are cat fleas.  They more often bite cats, dogs and humans than do dog fleas and human fleas. Both cat fleas and dog fleas can carry tapeworms, but they do not carry human diseases.  Fleas reproduce rapidly and the adult female may lay 20 eggs per day and 600 in a life time.  The female flea must have a blood meal to lay eggs and they live only one week if a blood meal is not obtained. Eggs are usually laid where pets frequent.  This can be in areas of a carpet, on or under furniture, around pet bedding or places in the yard where a pet may lay.  The eggs hatch in about a week and the larva feed on debris in the carpet, the dried blood in adult flea feces, bits of dead skin or other organic debris.  After three molts (shedding of skin) fleas become pupae. Flea emergence from pupal cocoons is triggered by heat (of people or pets), carbon dioxide (breath) or pressure (of pets or people walking or lying on them). New adult fleas then target warm or carbon dioxide sources to find a blood meal (pets or humans).  To test whether you have fleas in the home, you can use sticky traps in the area where your pet lays or you can place a shallow bowl of soapy water with a light shining on it in an area where your pet cannot get access to it.

There are several methods of controlling fleas in the home. Perhaps the most effective method is to vacuum frequently and place the vacuum bag in a plastic bag and dispose of outside. Diatomaceous earth can also be thinly scattered on carpets and furniture to kill the larva and adults. This fine, white powder is not toxic to humans or pets and is not a poison. It cuts the body of the insect and they basically bleed to death. It should remain in the carpet for a week or so before vacuuming.

Pesticide applications are not recommended for entire carpets and furniture due to toxicity concerns. Insect growth regulators (IGRs) are a less toxic choice that is effective, but only prevents the larva from maturing into adults. When pesticides are used, remember to remove ALL pets from the area while treating. Treating your pet with a prescription or over the counter treatment can also reduce fleas brought into the home. Products with fipronil or Imidacloprid are relatively low toxicity for pets. Be sure to treat areas in the yard where your pet frequents. Permethrins are effective outside. Remember to wash pet bedding weekly.