How to Get Rid of Fleas: Redux

With the record hot summer this year and there also being the Midwest drought, I figured to update the site on new ways to get rid of fleas.

How to Get Rid of Fleas – Organically

While I was speaking to someone at the dog park recently, they had a unique, organic way on how to get rid of fleas– Diatomaceous Earth. What? It is hard enough to say, and it seems like it could be a dangerous chemical; but Diatomaceous Earth is actually a food grade powder that is finely ground prehistoric algae. But wait, how does algae kill fleas? According to RichSoil.com, Diatomaceous Earth (I’m calling it DE from now on to save time) features a crystalline structure, similar to glass, that has razor sharp microscopic edges. When a flea, ant, or other insect walks, jumps, or crawls through the DE, it gets into their crevices and punctures their skin, causing them to dry up and die.

I bought a 20lb bag of DE at Tractor Supply for $13, and proceeded to treat the back yard with it. It is a very fine powder that is relatively easy to apply as long as it isn’t windy outside. I applied it rather liberally, coating bushes, trees, and the entire yard, roughly 800 square feet with one bag. I chose not to apply the DE to the interior of the house, but you can sprinkle it on the carpet and hardwood floors, allowing it to sit for an hour or so, then vacuum it up. Since there isn’t an issue with fleas in the carpet, I chose to address the flea situation outside. If you do use DE inside, don’t worry too much about the safety issue, as long as you get food grade DE, it won’t hurt you or your pets unless consumed in large quantities. This means if you have a known flea corridor located, you can simply put down some DE and leave it, and any pest that tries to cross that route, will get killed in the process. (From my research, it typically takes less than an hour from initial contact with DE for the flea/insect to die.)

DE does have its drawbacks, though. Because the fleas, or insects, must move/step in the DE powder, it is only effective on adult fleas, so it won’t kill flea larvae or pupae, or the eggs. You can get rid of fleas in those stages by bathing your pet with a recommended soap and vacuuming any suspect areas. In addition to the stage limitations, DE’s biggest drawback is the fact water renders it virtually useless. So in situations such as this summer, when there have been stretches of no rain for 2+ weeks, DE is a cost effective, SAFE way to eliminate not just fleas, but also other types of insects in your yard and house.

How to Get Rid of Fleas – For Free/Cheap?

I’m always weary of marketing claims and suspect of organizations’ profit motives, so I’m highly interested in free ways to get rid of fleas. There are a number of methods to test, but their efficacy may be limited, due to the size of your infestation or even the quality of the method.

Homemade Flea Trap: Fill a plate with soapy water, and put it directly underneath of a light bulb, ideally less than 18″ away. Fleas are drawn to light, so they will jump towards the light, and the soap in the water will prevent them from escaping, so they will drown.

Vacuuming: The easiest, and best way to get rid of fleas in all stages of their life. Vacuum, then change out the bag on the vacuum cleaner, so the flea eggs can’t hatch in the bag.

Citrus Treatment: I haven’t personally tested this method, but folklore says that mixing citrus, such as a lime or lemon, with boiling water, then using a spray bottle to treat the flea-friendly areas will eliminate fleas. While I love the smell of lemon, this seems like a messy way to get rid of fleas, not even factoring in its efficacy.

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