Fleas In House
What To Do About Fleas In The House
It's interesting to read about people's experiences with fleas in the house. There are a number of novel remedies to the flea problem, short of calling in an exterminator, which in the final analysis, is sometimes necessary. The curious thing is, what works great in one household, has little or no effect in another. Some methods get rid of fleas, only to have them return later, sometimes with a vengeance. Some households have fleas and pets, others have no pets, but still there are fleas in the house.
A common belief, which is also a misconception, is that if there are no pets (or humans) in the house for a certain period of time, the fleas will die off, since they cannot live for more than a few days without a host. Yet people can return to their home following a long vacation and find it full of fleas, or while looking at a home to rent or buy, can enter a house that has been vacant for months, only to find fleas everywhere. Fleas it would seem, more properly belong to the realm of science fiction, monsters that cannot be killed, or if killed, somehow manage to spring back to life.
There are several things you can try if there are fleas in the house, and, as others have experienced, some approaches may work better than others. You may get rid of the fleas on the first try, or you may try any number of things with only marginal success. The bottom line is this. The flea has a secret, one that few of us are aware of. It's called the life cycle, and it explains why they are so resilient, and difficult to get rid of.
The Life Cycle Matters - In the first place, the individual adult flea is a pretty hardy creature to begin with. It has a hard shell, making it difficult to crush. It can jump 3 to 6 feet in a single bound, making it difficult to catch. And it is good at hiding. The flea is basically a survivor. What we don't realize is that if we have a flea infestation in our house, they aren't all biting adults, in fact on the average, only about 5% of the population are biting adults. The rest are either eggs, larvae, or pupae, none of which bite, or for that matter move around much. When we go after fleas, we usually go after the adults, and if we are successful at killing them off, we've managed to wipe out 5 % of the population. The remaining 95% are biding their time, waiting to mature and start biting. A successful flea killing expedition has to get rid of the adults, and the larvae, and the pupae, and the eggs. Only then can a house be declared a flea free zone.
A One Year Wait? - There is some truth to the belief that fleas cannot survive if there is no host. That is true of newly emerging adult fleas, who can only live for a few days without a blood meal, that is unless they choose to hibernate, in which case they may live a month or more. Eggs, while difficult to kill though some sprays are effective, usually hatch within from one to four weeks. If the eggs aren't killed, a second treatment is sometimes necessary. Larvae on the other hand spend much of their time safely tucked away in cocoons, and can stay in those cocoons for a year if need be before morphing into adults. The cocoons are where most fleas stay to survive the winter in colder climates.
The life cycle of the flea then is somewhat variable, and the different stages can be triggered by the presence of warm blooded animals. If you are close by, they will hatch, if not, they may stay in their cocoons awhile longer.
Don't Forget Rats And Mice - Finally, one doesn't have to have pets to have fleas, many people experiencing flea problems don't. Fleas can come in from the outside quite easily, and lacking a pet or human, can find a mouse, rat, bat, or a bird as a host. Often as a part of exterminating fleas in a house, a professional exterminator will look for the presence of rodents, or other potential hosts, and exterminate them as well.
Home Remedies - Some home remedies include sprinkling borax, garden lime, or Diatomaceous Earth in the carpets, letting it sit a few days, then vacuuming it, and the dead fleas, up. Others use various sprays and bombs. Sevin works well, but is not recommended for use indoors, especially if you have pets, as it is highly toxic. A novel approach, used when fleas infest a basement, where they can be hard to get at, is to hang a light bulb over a small wading pool filled with water. The fleas jump towards the heat source, fall into the water, and drown. Obviously this works only on adult fleas, but over a period of time could substantially reduce the flea population as a whole.
At the very least, being aware of the life cycle of the flea may give you a better understanding as to what you're dealing with, and why fleas can sometimes be such tough customers to get rid of.