I am thankful for your article on fleas.... I too believed Borax was only harmful to fleas - yikes!
I used to use half salt half borax sprinkled on my carpets and left for days to completely rid my carpets of the fleas. What's sad is that except for my dog scratching I never saw a flea in my house....
But the thing I discovered for my dog (long thick fur) was to bath him using castle soap and peppermint oil. I put the oil and soap on him heavy then work it into his fur while he is in the tub.... shortly I see dead fleas (single digits) floating in the water. After he isn't scratching any more. I rinse him by holding him under the water as we rub the soap mix out (except his head of course) The smell lasts on him and it seems to keep new fleas from jumping on board!
In between baths we will run the diluted oil on him directly should he scratching.
This peppermint oil has been the BEST discovery for us. I use DE, but do not like to because of the dusting - it can be a pain, while the oil is EASIER to use on the animal.
A wonderful site with a great deal of valuable information. Thank you, Paul!
I've been researching intensively for a month on flea control for my apartment. I live by the beach in Southern CA where the fleas are rampant. Our dog got the flea infestation and we were worried on several fronts: 1) for our dog, 2) for my pregnant wife and 3) for the baby to be (now born, present and accounted for).
We did not go the strictly organic route for the dog, but I did exhaustive research on COMFORTIS aka SPINOSAD. This has been used for over a decade in organic farming. The short story about this compound is that it was discovered by a scientist who was vacationing in the Carribbean. He noticed that on one stretch of the beach there were no fleas, while there were rampant fleas everywhere else. He soon tracked down the source to an abandoned whisky mill where there was a bacterium that produced a compound that puts the fleas' metabolism on hyperdrive till they keel over and die. Lilly is the company which produces this compound and it was initally used as a pesticide in organic farming and then later as an alternative to (yuck) Frontline and company for our furry little friends. Right now, new trials have been completed in it being used as a cream for killing head lice (it is 2x as effective as the next best treatement out there). So, it is very safe for dogs, but the problem is that the flea has to bite your pet to die. So, I am interested probably going the vitamin b/peppermint oil/yeast in food route to augment her protection.
In addition, I have been lucky enough to discover that my fanatical 1x a day vacuuming of my house apparently is agitating my little baby fleas to come out of their hiding places! My bites are coming down a whole lot. Also, I am going to try some of the different flea trap ideas: combining the watermelon juice that woman said worked great for her and putting a floating candle in it, as well as buying the flea trap with the sticky paper on it, too.
As to the point about using DE, I am going to buy it from a pet supply store in town which carries it. I read somewhere else that someone used an old nylon to spread it out. Sounds like a good way to do it. Also someone else mentioned buying those empty ketchup squeezers as a way to spread it out helps avoid a big amount of dust.
A few questions for you: If I'm making a paper thin coating doesn't a 50 lb bag sound like overkill? 2) If I am going to spread it on the periphery of my living space, can I augment it by using some of the D-limonene, red cedar oil or some of the other natural oils around that are being touted as being a big flea killers? Also, I am concerned that the fine dust will eventually get into my vacuum cleaner's motor, eventually killing it. I'm going to use an old crappy one so I don't destroy my ultra-expensive Miele!
Love to hear what you think
Thin Tie Guy
PS: something is not working well on the message board: if when you type and your message gets a bit long, it automatically scrolls up to the top, making it impossible to see what you are typing!
Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Location: North Central Michigan
when we had a serious flea infestation we used 20 mule team borax (as i got sick from the chemical and supposed natural herbal things we bought)
sprinkled it liberally everywhere (putting flea collars on animals first)..left it..didn't vacuum for as long as we could stand..then vacuumed and sprinkled it again.
it killed them all ..all the eggs..everything..worked better than anything you could imagine.
never had another problem again..that was years ago.
Bloom where you are planted.
Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Because of the baby I would change my tactics in this fight.
No borax, it is toxic - that's why it works so well And easy on the DE, do not use where baby crawls or in high traffic areas where people will stir up the dust. Consider laying it down under furniture and behind things where it won't be disturbed or a problem.
I killed a vacuum once buy vacuuming up ashes, but my new one has no problem with this - so it depends on the vacuum design and not it's cost.
As for 50lbs of DE - do as you like, but it is much more cost effective, and it doesn't 'go bad', and it has more than one use. For example, when the ants find your dog's food just put a bit of DE in it and shake the food so it gets lightly coated. Dog will eat this with no problems, but the ants will vanish!
Essential Oils - this would be great, the best way to go in your situation. Cut with water and use a sprayer to cover a lot of the area. Baby can crawl and breath the this treatment. Make sure you treat the dog every time you treat the floors. You don't want the dog being their life-raft. Misting yourselves wouldn't hurt either.
As I've written, a dog bath isn't complete without peppermint oil! We all tingle while sudzing him up, and the fleas just fall off into the tub water. Logan doesn't love it (tingling and all) but his coat shines, he smells great and NO fleas. Boarder collies have very sensitive skin, but this treatment doesn't cause rashes, itching or scratching. So the slight tingling during bathing is the only downside.
Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Location: Oakland, CA
I just read that fennel repels fleas. Might be OK mixed with mint.
"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men. They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Location: Colchester, CT
Folks in Appalachia have been using mountain mint for fleas for a long time. Easy to grow, excellent nectar and pollen source for many beneficial insects as well... mint and fennel are good thoughts too...
but beneficials ain't the issue here...
Fleas are as Paul noted, opportunists that move onto a creature (pets, us) and truck inside to set up shop. SO elimination out of doors seems the best place to start...
As also noted by Paul, nematodes are the natural predatory control on fleas. But we kill these little micro worms in droves with poor gardening practices like chemical fertilizers and pesticides, overtilling, compaction, etc. (well maybe not permies so much, but a lot of folks...)
So populations in most soils are low, and as Paul said it IS a specific family of nematode (Rhabtibidae) that predates on larvae. BUT the good news is, this family is available in several different species, and is easy to handle, and when done correctly, about the most effective way to kill fleas (All the borax and DE suggestions are great, but don't create another generation of killers when they hit a big population of fleas).
First of all, this IS for outside. Indoor nematodes stand the same chance as the proverbial snowball in hell. Don't bother.
Secondly, these guys move through and need moist soil. Watering before soil application is HIGHLY recommended.
Third, nematodes have almost pure silicate exoskeletons, so they FRY in high UV and sun situations. If you can't apply on a rainy day, very early morning or evening applications are best...
Fourth, don't order on Thursday of Friday; these guys die in a post office over the weekend. Early ordering, and steady refrigeration are key to a healthy innoculation of worms...
Finally, we want Steinernema as our preferential 'tode for fleas; this genus has shown the best effect as they share the soil surface (top few inches) with flea larvae. As they inject their own larvae en vivo into the flea larvae (a worm at this soil borne instar), they injest a paralyzing chemical. The still living flea larvae becomes an incubator for hundreds even thousands of 'todes. As these hatch, they inturn go forth to repeat this cycle themselves. The control for nematode population is food sourcing, so you can see this exponential increase of 'todes makes pretty short work of your out of door population, making indoor control even easier.
Lots of sources online; northern gardeners should use S. carpocapsae (it will overwinter) and southern gardeners should use S. feltiae (also better for hot weather application up north).
Oh, and ladies, mention to the hubby that this takes out grubs in the lawn at the same time, and I bet you can get him to do the whole thing himself...
Indoors, carpeting is the issue. We went back to hardwood (carpets are ok) and it makes any outbreak really easy to see and treat. Ditch the carpeting... got to listen to pros and chemists note about borax is reassuring; that said, kids are in what we call a "window of vulnerability" and absorb low level toxins at twice the rate of adults, with less body mass to spread it around in, so if kids are in the picture, borax should probably not...
Cedar oils are very effective, but actually a build-up toxin in cats, despite the inclusion in all sort of pet products that claim "cat friendly" ingredients. It is a good point to remember that there is NO mandated oversight on pet pesticides, so they can claim what they like. It ain't necessarily so... this extends to rosemary, and sage oils as well, also sometimes recommended. As noted with pyrethrins, natural does not automatically denote safety...
Connecticut Accredited Nurseryperson Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (NOFA)
Any suggestions for people with cats that have fleas? I know that they quickly get tired of the combing, bathing and dusting with DE. When they have carpets, it will take four weeks to beat the fleas, but folks lose patience.
I feel like I would like to rig up a collection of electric heaters that will raise the temp to 110 in the house and drop the humidity to 20% or less for eight hours. And then just leave the pets inside. I would think this would wipe out all of the fleas in the house and even on the pets.
I would really like to hear your thoughts on this path.
Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
paul wheaton wrote: This thread is for discussing this article
From your article.....
One strange thing about diatomaceous earth is that for it to work, you have to keep it dry. Even morning dew can make diatomaceous earth ineffective.
How can this then help for internal parasites as is being claimed? Lots of moisture inside us. I have been reading that people eat it. Won't it just jam up the works?
Application? Just sprinkle little bits over ... say ... aphids or mites etc .... when see them... and then daily until problem gone? If moisture makes it ineffective it can't really be used on a broad scale because by next morning there is dew .... can it?
You can fix all the world's problems in a garden
Joined: May 09, 2009
How can this then help for internal parasites as is being claimed? Lots of moisture inside us. I have been reading that people eat it. Won't it just jam up the works? What chelle says makes sense. If its outdoor diatomaceuose earth then maybe wet powder works again when it gets dry though i imagine chalk is pretty easy to dissolve and it might lose its sharp edges in wet weather. You could use it out doors in a dry season. In a slightley pasionate too and throw with Emerson White about hre worth of homopathy, as representative of fringe healing and such i felt, on another thread, I ended up remembering that i had seen a report on the use of hoeopatic stuff for, i can't eremember what fleas or mites: A question that seems a bit of magic of give them a tiny bit of flea very diluted as my distant memory remembers it to cure them of fleas but the interesting thing was that farmers in some south american country i think it was but factory type farmers, not crazy hippy folk were using it in quantities because it works they said, so if your concerned with using insectacides that does not hurt the enviroment, you could try a homeopatatic vet. It is worth trying, if it works all well and good can't do much harm. If you are very poor its hard to try anything but still some people have enough to experiment a bit. rose macaskie.
Chelle Lewis wrote: From your article..... How can this then help for internal parasites as is being claimed? Lots of moisture inside us. I have been reading that people eat it. Won't it just jam up the works?
I have to admit that I have no clue. I have heard folks explain all sorts of stuff and none of their explanations manage to stick inside of my brain. I do get the impression that a lot of people swear that it works great. So I always chalk it up as an anecdotal mystery.
Joined: May 09, 2009
May be the internal parasites get clogged up on the chalk , if so so any old chalk would do . When my dog eats bones, then the fecal package turns to something like concrete. rose .
Diatomaceous Earth is a mineral that doesn't dissolve in water. It retains it's shape no matter what. It absorbs moisture and makes the animal stool more firm and easy to pick up and less smelly too. It's also negatively charged and acts as an antioxidant attracting toxins from the body so they can be flushed out with the waste. You're all welcome to go to my web site and read all about it and download the free information we provide. http://www.dirtworks.net/Diatomaceous-Earth.html
John Meshna (owner)
Green State Hydroponics
1195 Dog Team Road
New Haven, Vt 05472
We had lots of sand fleas where I grew up, we used eucalyptus, mint & geranium essential oils to repel fleas from our dogs bedding once it & the dog had been cleaned & we had vacuumed.
I have even mixed it with alcohol & spritzed my legs to keep the fleas off. It was not flawless but it helped.
I can remember at night my grandmother would put out a pie pan full of water with a candle in the center to trap the fleas in here basement.
We had a lot of carpeted area to vacuum everyday. Finally we got rid of the carpets. When they pulled our carpets out there was about an inch of sand under there, it was a perfect habitat for fleas, once we got rid of the "carpet habitat" there were a lot less fleas.
Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Location: Colchester, CT
once we got rid of the "carpet habitat" there were a lot less fleas
Still the best advice here...
Joined: Oct 23, 2011
So what would happen if you purposely put DE under the carpet when you install it? Would it be a preventative against fleas or would it irritate humans & deteriorate the carpet??
Joined: May 23, 2010
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
Dianne Keast wrote: Yes, when I think about it, the human desires to always plant lawns & always carpet everything are kind of silly. Must be some kind of subconscious emotional stuff going on there.
My (japanese) wife says that you westerners have eaten so much beef and dairy in your lives that it has caused you to develop a weird lawn fetish, subconsciously expressing the consciousness of the cow. The lawn-carpet connection does makes sense as well.
Joined: Apr 09, 2009
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
yukkuri_kame wrote: My (japanese) wife says that you westerners have eaten so much beef and dairy in your lives that it has caused you to develop a weird lawn fetish, subconsciously expressing the consciousness of the cow. The lawn-carpet connection does makes sense as well.
Thats very funny but it doesn't answer what fetish is in response to our massive de-forestation just to create french fries.
Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Hmmm, yukkuri_kame you may have a point there, some Natuve Americans also believe this sort of thing to be true. "You are what you eat".
This has been a most informative forum. I would like to know what is the best non toxic(preferable) repellent for fleas. We have done the inside of our home and seem to have less fleas,but we have not taken the dog for a walk in a week. We have an 18lb bichon/poo who constantly licks. I have been using cedarcide dabbed directly on the flea on her and it seems to work, of course I am not getting all the fleas at one time. I found getting some of the cedar oil inhaled caused my Parkinsons symptoms to flare up even with my meds. Neem oil also bothers me. I found the Diatomaceous Earth at Armstrongs Garden CEnter in Carlsbad Ca. a 4lb bag is a lot of product .I used goggles and a mask to lay it down in the carpet and some on the indoor outdoor carpet on our patio. Indoors I am concerned that it may cause irritation from being walked on and disbursing in the air. The humidity here is up with grey sky, June Gloom late LOL I used my steamer on carpeting and throw rugs let it dry then vacuumed good. Overall things have improved, just that going out I know will bring home critters.Thanks for any input
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Joined: May 23, 2010
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
trubrit wrote: I found the Diatomaceous Earth at Armstrongs Garden CEnter in Carlsbad Ca. a 4lb bag is a lot of product .I used goggles and a mask to lay it down in the carpet and some on the indoor outdoor carpet on our patio. Indoors I am concerned that it may cause irritation from being walked on and disbursing in the air.
I find the DE is not particularly irritating except during initial application. Hope yours is food grade.
Joined: Oct 23, 2011
trubrit wrote: This has been a most informative forum. I would like to know what is the best non toxic(preferable) repellent for fleas.
Hi trubrit ,
I have heard that eucalyptus leaves can repel fleas & perhaps the essential oil but I do not know if it works or if it is safe for you to use.
Does anyone know anything more about the nematodes? I'm reluctant to put DE where the cats sleep in the yard because it will kill all the other bugs back there too. Are the nematodes bad for the garden?
Joined: Aug 29, 2009
There are different types of Nematodes. The ones sold in the garden section are great for fleas, grubs of beetles and other such bad-bugs in your lawn and garden. I haven't come across anyone selling the un-helpful nematodes so you don't need to worry.
Has anyone tried sulfur for flea elimination? I use Pat Coleby's mineral mix for my goats so I buy 50 lbs of sulfur at a time, and have found that dusting sulfur on the goats will eliminated lice just that fast. One year my daughter had spilled a good amount of it on the back porch and realized after the fact that we'd had nary a flea problem that summer. Evidently the dogs dusted themselves by walking through it everyday, or they tracked enough of it into the house that it eliminated the fleas. We haven't noticed any sensitivities to it even though we get it all over our hands as we dust the goats and we don't wear any dust masks. I think I like it better than DE.
Hello, I recently read your article on DE and need to ask you just a few questions about the procedure. Unfortunately, we've been living with fleas for a few months and all of our attempts to get rid of them have failed. We had an exterminator, done all of our laundry, and mopped our floors but nothing worked and we are very upset. We know for sure that they are fleas because we find dead ones all of the time and sometimes we even find them on ourselves or our baby as they are biting. I am having someone get me DE soon (it isn't available where I live) and would like to know: Is DE harmful to skin? For example, if I put it on our clothes and beddings and then wore them, could anything happen like developing a rash or something? Also when putting DE on clothes and beddings, do I need to get all of the surface covered with DT or would it be enough say to put everything in a bag, pour DE into it and just shaked the bag? In short,what's the best way to use DE to get fleas out of my clothes and beddings? Also, Is the "Safer" brand sold at Home Depot good enough for killing fleas? It doesn't say "food grade" on it. TThank you for your time and help!
Joined: Jan 18, 2011
paul, do you think its good idea to put DE on the beddings before i wash them in order to avoid coming in contact with it? will it do the job? will washing it in the machine with regular detergent then get rid of it? i have a 2 month old baby in the house and im very scared of it getting in his lungs or on his skin. thanks...
I don't remember ever hearing a report that DE is harmful to the skin. I know that I have put it on my skin many times. I know that I have dusted cats and dogs with it. I know that I have heard many reports of people putting it on themselves and lots of different animals.
Bedding can be a little tricky with DE. I think putting some on the mattress while the sheets and stuff go through the wash could be wise.
Get the stuff in the diatomaceous earth article. That stuff is food grade and the best I have found.
I would not put DE in the washer. That's just gonna make a mud.
Joined: Aug 29, 2009
benl wrote: Is DE harmful to skin? For example, if I put it on our clothes and beddings and then wore them, could anything happen like developing a rash or something?
Also when putting DE on clothes and bedding's, do I need to get all of the surface covered with DT or would it be enough say to put everything in a bag, pour DE into it and just shaked the bag?
In short,what's the best way to use DE to get fleas out of my clothes and beddings?
Also, Is the "Safer" brand sold at Home Depot good enough for killing fleas? It doesn't say "food grade" on it.
1. Skin: No, as a matter of fact DE is great to heal and prevent chaffing, good for dipper rash, and mites (things that cause skin rashes). It is so drying, and forms a barrier to stop irritation from skin to skin rubbing. However, like talcum powder you don't want you or your pets to breath it, so watch dusting. Best to put some in your hand and rub.
Try eating raw garlic chopped and place in honey and swallowed like a pill. This not only builds your immune system it will change the tastes of your skin and blood. Flea's have smell and taste so using smells and tastes they fine aversive will stop them from bothering you and your family. Worry about killing them second.
2. Bed and Bedding: Best to only use it on your mattress, under your bed and other places where you won't be kicking it up into dust. Better: use EO (essential oils) use tea tree, eucalyptus, (strong smelling ones) for your wash, along with very hot water. Then use peppermint on hankie's under your covers, at the foot and under your pillows. This doesn't kill them, but the smell keeps them from jumping up back onto your clean bedding. Also rub some EO along the metal box spring rail.
3. Floor: in traffic areas it's better to use cheap (bulk) salt, to which you add a smell of your choice - like clove oil, peppermint, etc. Use several cups of salt with several drops of oil - mix well, sit and mix again 3 or 4 times then smell. When you have it potent smelling sprinkle it lightly over traffic areas and let it sit for a couple of days before vacuuming. When your flea problem is under control use baking soda instead of salt for a nice carpet fresher. Use the salt/EO in pets bed. Use DE under furniture, on pet food and in cracks around doors. Leave the DE as long as possible.
4. On property: Best to stop this run on fleas at it's source. Buy and apply beneficial nematodes in the spring to your property around the house and where the dogs and cats hang out. They take care of pests at the soil level.
5. Where to buy: Food grade DE can be found on amazon.com and shipped out fast. Nematodes can be purchased at local garden stores - I get mine at Fred Meyers, along with lady bugs in the early spring. Salt in bulk at my local grocery store's bulk section. And EO's from Rose Mountain Herbs.com or Amazon.com
There you go, and long version ~ blessings
Joined: Jan 18, 2011
Thank you for the replies.
Unfortunately, the person who was supposed to bring us the DE didn't come through and it'll be a while before we can get any. We live in outside of the US and it isn't available here. Of course neither are nemotodes.
I bought a couple of essential oils and put drops on our beds and stuff but it only seems to keep them away for a day. Putting salt on our floor sounds dangerous because it can be slippery.
About the laundry: how much oil should I put in? Essential oils here come in very small bottles and it comes out in drops. Should I put a whole bottle in with the soap or maybe a few drops? I'm willing to put in as much I need.
Would you recommend citrus spray? I heard it makes the floor very slippery. Is there any difference between the kind you buy and the kind you make?
New here and purused this thread and didn't see any mention of it so if Im being redundit please forgive. This is the best, completly non toxic flea, tick, bedbug, etc etc killer on the market and I use on my two babys and they are always flea free. I spray it on thier beds and all around the house. I will spray heavy if I let things get out of hand, and leave the house for a bit then come back and air it out and voila, no more fleas and it smells like a cedar chest. Its called cedarcide. completely non toxic to animals and humans. good old solomon knew what he was doing when he built the Temple out of cedar timbers. http://www.cedarcidestore.com/catalog/item/3571008/5094558.htm Oh yeah I forgot include that is great for chickens and their coops and sheds, etc.. I forgot they also have an outdoor wood sealer .
i didnt read through the thread so sorry if someone mentioned this.
At night time put a candle onto something sturdy in a shallow pan of oil. So that the candle is in the middle. Put this in the middle of a room. Some have told me water works also, but it didnt do as well for us.....
either way the fleas jump at the light, and end up stuck in the oil. my family did this when I was a kid and it works well.