When we notice fleas in our houses, the first response is to get rid of them as fast as possible. Fumigating and using insecticides will work, but filling your home chemicals might not be the best option. First, look into some natural flea control solutions. Natural methods are much safer for you and your family.
Here we will go over the negative effects of using chemicals, and then go over a variety of all natural flea control methods.
Common Insecticidal Chemicals Used for Flea Control
By fumigating you will be filling your home with poisonous chemicals. These toxic chemicals can either be naturally derived or completely synthetic. They will efficiently work to kill all fleas and other insects in your house. The problem is they might also be affecting you, your children, and your pets. While some of these treatments are thought of to be safe, we do not know all of the long lasting effects of these insecticides. Furthermore, over time insects may start to become resistant to pesticides if we over use them. Below we will discuss some of the most common insecticides used for flea control.
If you get your home professionally fumigated, chances are organophosphates will be used as the active insecticidal ingredient. This compound is highly toxic to all kinds of wild life, including humans. In fact, it is even used in the manufacturing of nerve gas. Even in extremely low levels of exposure, it is believed that it can cause developmental problems in the fetuses and children. Organophosphate works to kill fleas by attacking their nervous system. The damage done to the nerves cannot be undone, and it will affect any animal it comes in contact with. The only upside to using this insecticide is it degrades rapidly.
Permethrin & Pyrethrin
Peremethrin (or pyrethrin) is commonly found in a variety of over-the-counter insect repellents and insecticides. It works by affecting the nervous system and binding sodium channels. The upside to this chemical is that it is not known to be toxic to human or most other animals, and cannot be absorbed well through the skin. It is however toxic to cats as well as fish. So, if you have these pets, it is not recommended to use peremethrin based products.
Another chemical found in over-the-counter flea control products is pyriproxyfen, also branded Nylar. The way it works is by affecting the hormonal responses of fleas. It is known as a juvenile hormone analogue, which means it stops insect larvae from pupating in adults. With no new generation of adults the infestation cannot continue. Pyriproxyfen is believed to be safe for all mammals, and is even used in a variety of topical treatment for pets (Bayer).
Choosing a Natural Flea Control Method
Sometimes choosing a chemical insecticide is the only way to go if the problem is too severe, or if you have tried everything else. First though, try some natural methods. If you are lucky, these all natural solutions will do the trick in halting a flea infestation. A variety of these methods will be described below.
Vacuuming, Laundry, and Cleaning
If you are looking for an easy, chemical free way to control a flea problem, look no further than keeping a cleaner house. Start vacuuming, doing laundry, and cleaning pet areas more often. Does this seem too simple? Well, it might be simple, but it is effective. In fact, it is probably the most important thing you can do.
Most fleas will lay their eggs in the carpet. The eggs then hatch and larvae will stay in the carpeting until they pupate into adults. By vacuuming frequently you will being sucking up the majority of eggs, larvae, and cocoons. This puts a huge kink in the flea reproduction cycle, and an infestation will degrade rapidly. Clothes and bedding can also hold flea offspring, so try to do laundry more often. Pet bedding and kennels can also be prime breeding grounds for fleas, and should be cleaned regularly.
If you are looking for a completely safe, natural product to kill fleas and other insects, this is it! Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic to humans and pets, but will kill insects. All it is is powdered sedimentary rock. When the powdered diatomaceous earth contacts an insect, it will cut into their exoskeleton. The powder will then absorb the fleas’ lipids and fluids, and they will die from dehydration. This is safe for humans and animals, but try to breathe it in since it is abrasive to lungs. For more information check out our article on diatomaceous earth
Utilizing flea traps is an effective way to capture and kill adult fleas in your house. These traps work by attracting fleas in with light and warmth from a light bulb. Then underneath the light is a replaceable sticky pad. The fleas jump on thinking they are getting a warm blood meal, and then are trapped. Keep in mind this will only kill adults. Larvae, eggs, and cocoons still need to be dealt with. Place the traps in places where you see a lot of fleas. For more information read our article on flea traps.
Essential oils work well as a repellent for many insects, including fleas. These oils are naturally produced by various different plants. The plants used this oil as a natural protection against insects that might eat them. This is why the oil works so well to repel insects, it is what mother nature intended it to do. Common essential oils for insect control are citronella, eucalyptus, and lavender. While these oils do not kill fleas, you can use them to protect you and your pets from flea bites. Try to put some of these essential oils on clothing or dog collars.
If you are looking for an all natural solution to remove fleas from your pets, flea combs are the way to go. These combs have very fine teeth that are closely spaced. The teeth of the comb will pull out any fleas that may be present on your pet. Make sure you are thorough when combing your pet, and check the tail as well as behind the ears. To make the comb glide more smoothly through your pet’s fur, you can add some shampoo and water to your pet. Make sure you have a bucket ready for the fleas that you remove. Read our article on how to use a flea comb.
Salt? Really? Yes, salt is a great all natural way to treat your carpets for fleas. With salt in the carpet, it will remove moisture from the area. This will effect the flea eggs and larvae by causing them to quickly dehydrate. The salt crystals will cut into adult fleas’ exoskeletons. This is a completely non-toxic and safe way to kill fleas, which is great for you and your pets. Give your carpet a light dusting. After waiting a around 24 hours, you can then vacuum it up and reapply if needed. Read more about using salt for fleas control.