I don't have electricity in every room in my house, though I'm sure other people do, but this trick can work for closets, basements, etc. To do the water traps without electricity, put an unscented floating candle in a shallow bowl of water.
I work at a no-kill cat shelter, and of course trying to keep the flea population under control is always a battle.
Do you still suggest the DE for a shelter. Our building is an old motel that was converted over so the areas are large. Of course from your article it seems that the dehumidfier wouldn't be a good choice, and as for airconditioners, we pretty much only have 3 window units to try and deal with the whole building and many fans! One area all we have to use are fans. Being in Northern Indiana by the lake we deal with high humidty on a constant basis.
Besides DE, do you have any other thoughts or suggestions? We are a not for profit organization and can't afford to spend large amounts of money. We've periodically done Frontline, but again that is a poison and costly (a couple of thousand dollars for roughly 350-375 cats). We've also used SevenDust 5% in the past, but again...poison.
Joined: Jun 27, 2008
Location: Western NC
Has anyone used SENTRY Natural Defense? It uses natural active ingredients such as peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil and thyme oil. I've been researching it & thinking about giving it a try. Using a spot on product would be easier with 2 dogs & 7 cats!
Has anyone had any success with Neem Oil?
"Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them."
I'm going to guess that you are dealing with floors, and not carpet, is this correct?
I think DE is gonna become your best friend in the world. You should buy it by the 50 pound sack.
If you just use DE along the edges of everything, I think you will, over time, see your flea populations dwindle down to nothing over a month or so. Then just leave the DE there and it will act as a preventative.
I wished I lived in your area. I would really like to take your worst rooms and conduct some experiments.
If you have a room that is really bad, I would be powerfully curious to try the dehumidifier trick. Maybe with two or three dehumidifiers and no DE. Really see if it works (which I think it will). After a day or two of this, the room should be flea free. If you do this, please, please, please tell me the results!
Here is some background: I have never had a flea problem with my cat until this summer. Lots of rain and we moved into the high density university area. About two days ago I noticed some little fleas performing circus acts near and around the window ledge where I was sitting. I looked around at all the window ledges where our cat likes to sit with a flashlight at night and noticed more.
I have all hard wood or brick floors and live in Albuquerque, NM. I have been using DE along the edges and vacuuming. Also I have been combing my cat with a flea comb and we will bathe her today (she is going to freak!). I set flea traps each night. 3 nights running in each trap I have been seeing 5 to 20 tiny fleas. I have seen 1 or 2 bigger fleas in some traps but usually no bigger ones. Are these the adults? Are the others babies and haven't laid eggs yet (Hope! Hope!) Is there a distinction between smaller fully formed fleas and the bigger ones? My understanding was that they spring from the pupa as adults. Paul mentioned in his article that there were probably not more than 30 adults in living any one typical household at one time. I'm trying to make an accurate assessment of how close I am to shutting down the flea circus in my house. (Hey they didn't come to me and get the proper permits!!) We don't have alot of bites on us - very few in fact. And I don't see them hopping anymore where I first noticed them.
thanks!! mom of Kattikiss
Joined: Jul 28, 2008
I will let my director know what you suggested. If she and the board members agree to the investment of both items (DE and Dehumidifiers) I will be sure to let you know the results!
The little fleas and the big fleas are all adults. I would speculate that the bigger fleas have been around a while. If you are doing all the stuff I suggest, i suspect that you probably won't see any more big fleas - only little fleas.
You should continue to see little fleas for four weeks. This is from the eggs that were laid by your jumbo fleas a few days ago that will take four weeks to turn into fleas that will KILL! (ARG, DIE, DIE, DIE YOU BLOOD SUCKING VERMIN!)
Because you have hard wood floors instead of carpet, you will eliminate the fleas faster than the rest of us. Just don't skimp on the DE!
I have recently found out that I have fleas in my apartment. I have two strictly indoor cats, and noticed one of them scratching incessantly and in an uncomfortable state all the time. I combed her with a wet paper towel to see what was on her and it was salt and pepper like particles. Then I started seeing the fleas themselves on the floor and my socks. I FREAKED OUT! I hate bugs of all kinds and can't stand the thought of invaders in my home. I am a bit of a control freak, and this seemed out of my control. I brought my cat to the vet for a diagnosis and sure enough it was flea dust, though he found no fleas on her. He prescribed ADVANTAGE for both my cats. I then proceeded to spray my house with home flea control sprays, threw out all my area rugs, and washed everything within my reach on the hottest water and dryer settings. There was a small decrease, but then it seemed like it went back to being the same. There were never many, maybe 4-6 a day found on socks or the floor. This, however is 4-6 per day TOO MANY!! We decided to flea bomb which was so stressful to get everyone out of the house and remove toys(I have a 16 month old son). We waited longer than the suggested period of time to return with the cats, then I kept my son out for the rest of the day. This brings me to today. I read your article about DE and immediately went out to purchase it. We put it in corners, and under all the furniture, in the bathroom and in the kitchen. Since yesterday, we have found a total of 3 fleas. I now have no rugs in the house and I am praying this stuff will work. I don't think I have a bad infestation. We tried the lamp/soapy water traps but only found 1 or 2, sometimes none in the traps. My biggest concern is my son, as he is closer to the ground than my husband and I are. Sometimes they jump on him and I freak out! He is very fair and blonde so they are easily visible. My other concern is my cat. One cat is doing fine, the other cat which we took to the vet initially is still dropping dead or dying fleas off her when she sits on my kitchen counter. She has been treated for over a week now. She is also sneezing a lot and spraying a blood tinged spray when she does. She also seems a little lethargic. A few days after treatment, she was her old self again, but now seems to have the symptoms of a cold or something similar. I know you are against Advantage and Frontline and the like, but I came into this with ignorance and my biggest concern was ridding my home of intruders taking my son into consideration. It is a holiday weekend and will call the vet as soon as he returns. We have been vacuuming the furniture daily and keeping the air running to lower the humidity. After all this, my question is: can I sprinkle DE on hardwood floors then vacuum that up after a short period of time? Would that be effective? And also, with DE down in the areas I mentioned above, will this affect the fleas already on my cat? Like I said before, the vet didn't find any on her, and the ones I find are near death, but if the DE works in the rooms, will the amount on my cat decrease? Thanks for any help. Fingers crossed that the DE will work.
I hope all you have tried works for you. It may take awhile for the stuff from the vet to completely eradicate the problem. All the existing eggs will have to hatch out and then they won't be able to preproduce and the population will eventually die out. when and if they go away it will likely be the delayed effect of the advantage. unfortuanatly if you live in an apartment you likely have neighbors with fleas that aren't taking care of the problem and then there is not much you can do. The fleas will continue to make there way into your house no matter what you do. People have the same problem in neighborhoods with next door dogs and their fleas. What a pain.
Sorry for the delay in my response, I was out of town.
First, and most important:
Fleas are icky and creepy, but the reality is that they are nothing more than a minor nuisance. The flea bomb did more damage to your child than a thousand fleas.
If I were in your home I would probably hire some service to come and scrub every surface and everything in the house to get all of the flea bomb residue off of everything. I wouldn't be able to bear the thought of living in a house that had a flea bomb in it. (shudder)
Okay, moving past my own issues ...
The more DE you use, the more effective it will be. The good news is that if you have hardwood floors, getting rid of the fleas will be about 10 times easier than if you had carpets.
I would just lay the DE on thick in all the nooks and crannies. I would flea comb the cats daily. And I would vacuum daily (and vacuum up a little DE along the way). I would set flea traps in all the rooms every night. From all of this, I know that I would have complete confidence that I have the situation completely under control, as the flea traps will verify in about four weeks.
Leah makes and excellent point. I would check with neighboring apartments to find out if they have any flea issues. After all, it would be pretty annoying to never get rid of the fleas because there is a perpetual flea fest next door. I might even offer to help them get rid of their own fleas.
If you want more instant results, it might be worthwhile to look into the dehumidifier trick. Perhaps rent some super-duper dehumidifier for a few days.
As for the cat sneezing blood. DE is a dust and when airborn can cause sneezing or coughing - just as any dust would. If the cat is sneezing blood, then I would say there is something else going terribly wrong and I would suggest that you get this animal to a vet. Preferably to a vet that is DE aware so that the vet will not errantly blame the DE.
Joined: Aug 31, 2008
I put the DE down in the areas where my son cannot reach it. We vacuum the furniture daily. I combed both cats and neither had a flea on them. I occasionally see a dead or dying one near them, presumably from the Advantage doing its thing. I also put it under the cushions of the couch, then flip the cushions in a couple of days, vacuum the exposed side, and let the other side get exposed to the DE. Today has been a good day and have not seen any, while yesterday I killed about 10 in the course of cleaning the house. It was a particularly hot and humid day here in NJ. I have been keeping the central AC running to dehumidify as much as possible. It looks like all of our efforts were working except yesterday when we had that bad day and felt so defeated. The light traps were never very effective for us, catching only one or two here and there when we know we saw many more alive during the course of the day. The ones we've been seeing the past couple of days have been small in comparison to the previous ones. Could this mean they are the newly hatched ones and it could signal the end is near?!?!?!
I figure the small ones are newly hatched. I could be wrong.
About the flea traps: Are you keeping the light near the water? If the light is too high, it just lights up the whole room. You want the light to be concentrated in one spot.
Joined: Aug 31, 2008
Yes the light is right above the water, so close that I thought it would fall in. I think my situation is getting better. Do you think the DE on the couch cushions and flipping them is a good game plan?
I noticed that Hunting Supply stores have Cedar chip filled beds for dogs that are supposed to be unappealing to fleas. In fact, many insects do not like Cedar. I have a ritual in early summer where I'll get two giant bags of hampster bedding and walk around my yard hand casting it all over. after a couple of good rains it will work its way down and you cant see it anymore. I cant guarantee that it will totally flea proof your yard but it does seem to stop re-infestation. The smell is'nt bad either.
Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Thats a good idea! If you were in a situation where they neigbors problem was over flowing into your yard maybe a cedar mulch perimeter would help.
I wanted to thank you for the article about not panicking about fleas. I was beginning to do just that. I have never had fleas in my home and now I do. I will order diam earth right now. I use that in my garden for slugs but didn't think to use it in the house. The part of your article about plague was a bit hard as my 6 year old son died of plague when he was bit by a flea. Your information on the plaque is entirely accurate. We lived in a remote place in Nevada. Thank you for accurate balanced information. Karen W
Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Karen-I'm so sorry about your son. I can't imagine how painful for you that was.
With your first hand knowledge, could you help us to better understand the issue?
My reading suggests that there are less than 20 people that get the plague in north america each year. And something like 2 to 4 die each year. Apparently, plague is easy to treat with stuff like penicillin provided that it is caught within the first few days. Of course, with the way our medical stuff is these days, we generally are of a space where we just want to shake off most illness and not see a doctor. And my understanding is that the symptoms of plague are a lot like the flu.
Further, nearly all of the people that get the plague are actually studying the rodents with the plague and are pretty savvy to watching for signs of it and properly treating it. There are probably even more people that get it, treat it, and never report it.
There is a lot of great information in this post. However, I wanted to set the record straight about boric acid toxicity. I am a chemist by training and so I have some experience interpreting MSDS and toxicity data.
Boric acid is about as toxic as sodium chloride - table salt! If you look at the MSDS of NaCl you will find that it has similar warnings, a similar LD50, and similar high-dose chronic effects. The only difference is the testicular atrophy seen in dogs at high chronic doses. In dogs this was seen at ~32mg/kg, which translates to several grams per day for humans. If you carefully spread the boric acid with a N95 dust mask (available at drug stores) and then work it into carpet and vacuum >24 h later, you will have minimal exposure and in all likelihood, no health issues related to the boric acid. Basically, it does have some toxicity associated with it, but it is similar to other chemicals that we all use and eat. For instance, water is toxic at high doses and there are several documented cases of people dying after drinking too much of it.
DE on the other hand can be extremely hazardous if it is inhaled chronically. As you all know, DE is essentially finely ground silica (this is why it works for flea control!), but those particles can get lodged in your lungs. Over time they build up and can cause lung cancer. Now, this is MUCH more likely to happen in an industrial setting where exposure is high, but if you rub it all over your carpets and bedding, you create small plumes of it whenever you move. These airborne particles can then be inhaled.
The point I'm making is that DE is a great solution, but is not without risks. I would say that the same is true for boric acid. In either case, a dust mask should be used for application and care should be taken to clean up excess powder. Also, just because something has a scary sounding MSDS does not make it dangerous. I hope everyone who reads this goes and reads the MSDS of table salt (sodium chloride), or DE for that matter.
Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Excellent post chemist! Its easy to get sucked into believing "all natural" means all good. and it is also easy to get carried away with paranoia surrounding things with chemical sounding names when they are really about as inert as you can get!
Granted, the borates have a low toxicity, slightly worse than table salt .... and, I wouldn't be putting table salt all over the house willy nilly either.
Granted, chronic exposure to DE would be bad: bot not as bad as chronic exposure to borate powder. Nor as bad as chronic exposure to, say, vacuum cleaner dust (of course, this depends on what is in that dust).
I would go so far as to say that I actually own a box of borax, and I do use it (sparingly) for some things.
So, I guess this is me, setting the record straight on you setting the record straight.
What a great article this is! We had a pest control company come into our home twice to spray - Ultracide - something I could have purchased online myself at a much cheaper rate, and we're still itching. I'm neurotic enough to "daily" vacuum, launder bedding and clothes, bathe twice in lavender-mineral soap, and wash non-carpeted floors...did I say "daily"?
I love the attitude behind this article, but most of all, I love the data! I'll keep you posted on our battle once I buy food grade DE. Gotta go, got an itch.
Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Location: Western WA
A new thought: If you are cleaning well, applying Diatomaceous Earth and are still itching, you might have your doctor check you for scabies.
From an online article:
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* « Previous * 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * Next »
* Scabies Index * Glossary
In this Article
* What is scabies? * How do you get scabies? * Can you catch scabies from a dog or cat? * What does scabies look like? What are the signs and symptoms of scabies? * What does scabies feel like? * What is the treatment for a scabies infestation? * Are cases of scabies often misdiagnosed? * In what special situations can scabies be more easily spread? * Bad Bugs - Slideshow View Bad Bugs Slideshow * Patient Discussions: Scabies - Effective Treatments * Scabies Glossary * Scabies Index
What does scabies look like? What are the signs and symptoms of scabies?
Scabies produces small red bumps and blisters and affects specific areas of the body. Scabies may involve the webs between the fingers, the wrists and the backs of the elbows, the knees, around the waist and umbilicus, the axillary folds, the areas around the nipples, the sides and backs of the feet, the genital area, and the buttocks. The bumps (medically termed papules) may contain blood crusts. It is helpful to know that not every bump is a bug. In most cases of scabies affecting otherwise healthy adults, there are no more than 10 or 15 live mites even if there are hundreds of bumps and pimples.
Textbook descriptions of scabies always mention "burrows" or "tunnels." These are tiny threadlike projections, ranging from 2 mm-15 mm long, that appear as thin gray, brown, or red lines in affected areas. The burrows can be very difficult to see. Often mistaken for burrows are linear scratch marks that are large and dramatic and appear in people with any itchy condition. Scratching actually destroys burrows.
What does scabies feel like?
"Itching is the most common symptom of scabies. The itch of scabies is insidious and relentless. The itch is usually worse at night. For the first weeks, the itch is subtle. It then gradually becomes more intense until, after a month or two, sleep becomes almost impossible."
For info online google 'human scabies" as there is an animal version.
I just had a FANTASTIC idea! .... I should probably mash this into the article RIGHT AWAY!!
I have all of this information rattling around in my head about what temperature and what relative humidity kills fleas. And now I have three cases where people simply turn their thermostat up to full blast, leave for a day, come home and there are no more fleas. And I have tried it myself TWICE and failed.
And now I think I know why.
It has to do with the dewpoint, temperature and relative humidity (RH).
In both cases where I tried to do this, I think it was about 65 degrees and raining outside. And now, in hindsight, I see why that would not work.
If it is 65 and raining, that means that the dewpoint has to be 65 or higher. In other words, at 65 degrees, RH is 100%. If I raise the temperature in the house to, say, 85, that will make the inside RH about 50%. That will make the fleas kinda miserable, but not dead.
Today, my weather forecast says I have a dewpoint of 37. If I were to try the same experiment today, that would make the RH inside 18% - it would utterly kill all fleas in a very short time.
Well, the first thing one needs is a place that has fleas. While I am currently flea free, I do know somebody that has a few fleas in her home.
This was tried once last week. I bought a relative humidity / thermometer combo. The temp got up to about 87 but the RH only got down to 47% (or so). Not low enough. I suspect that it involved showers and cooking that morning. I think that if the air has been aired out really well first, it might work.
Since then it has been raining to beat the band. Gotta wait.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE or diatomite), when inhaled can cause silicosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicosis) because it contains mostly silica. "Crystalline silica poses a serious inhalation hazard because it can cause silicosis. Amorphous silica can cause dusty lungs, but does not carry the same degree of risk as crystalline silica. Food-grade diatomite generally contains very low percentages of crystalline silica" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_earth), however, the risks should be understood before use.
It seems likely to me that if food-grade DE is used and precautions are taken to avoid over exposure, it is safer than poisons. However, anyone considering using it, especially a person already suffering from lung ailments, should consider the information below before use. The body can deal with poisons if not overexposed, but once you develop silicosis, it will only get worse for the rest of your life. Silicosis is an irreversible condition with no cure.
Silicosis can take 10 years or more to develop after inhalation exposure to crystalline silica (which means it really doesn't hurt live stock since they are generally consumed before they reach that age...assuming they develop silicosis at the same rate as humans). Therefore, regular use over many years with no noticeable effect does not mean silicosis is not developing.
Wearing a mask will help cut down exposure, but not all masks will filter out very small particles of silica. In addition, if it is in your carpets and around your home it will get kicked up into the air and you will inhale it.
"When small silica dust particles are inhaled, they can embed themselves deeply into the tiny alveolar sacs and ducts in the lungs, where oxygen and carbon dioxide gases are exchanged. There, the lungs cannot clear out the dust by mucous or coughing.
"When fine particles of silica dust are deposited in the lungs, macrophages that ingest the dust particles will set off an inflammation response by releasing tumor necrosis factors. In turn, these stimulate fibroblasts to proliferate and produce collagen around the silica particle, thus resulting in fibrosis and the formation of the nodular lesions.
"Classification of silicosis is made according to the disease's severity, onset, and rapidity of progression. These include:
* Chronic silicosis
Occurs after 15–20 years of exposure to moderate to low levels of silica dust. Chronic silicosis itself is further subdivided into simple and complicated silicosis. This is the most common type of silicosis. Patients with this type of silicosis may not have obvious symptoms, so a chest X-ray is necessary to determine if there is lung damage.
* Asymptomatic silicosis
Early cases of the disease do not present any symptoms
* Accelerated silicosis
Silicosis that develops 5–10 years after high exposure to silica dust. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss.
* Acute silicosis
Silicosis that develops a few months to 2 years after exposure to very high concentrations of silica dust. Symptoms of acute silicosis include severe disabling shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss, often leading to death" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicosis).
The danger of silicosis may be small when food-grade DE is used carefully in the home, but it is not without risk. This should be understood before use and explained when it is recommended.
Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Location: North Central Michigan
i apologize I didn't read the entire thread.
last year we had a real infestation of fleas..went to pet smart and bought some "organic" products and they made us all sick..a friend recommended that we use 20 mule team borax..and so i followed her instructions and honestly it worked 100 % immediately..
you have to be ready for a dirty house though..first vacuum and toss out the bag..and then sprinkle20 mule team borax very very liberally on everything..upholstery, carpet, floors..etc..and don't vacuum it up..leave it as long as you can stand it..not fun to sit on..and then vacuum it up and put some more down immediately..and leave it as long as you can stand it..
the reason to go without vacuuming is that the vibrations of the movement encourage eggs to hatch..the borax kills the fleas and the egss..but it takes a little time for the egss..that is why not to vacuum..but when you do put more down to kill any eggs you missed.
then you are done..vacuum it all up and throw out the bags..in the garbage.
fleas also winter over in bark mulch, so if you have it near your house ..oops..not good.
Bloom where you are planted.
Joined: Jun 26, 2008
well. after having no real flea problem since moving out of my trailer 8 years ago my dogs are now infested with fleas. the new house must be the source. I'm thinking of shaving them all bald
Now you know why you got a good price on the house!
Does the new house have carpets?
Joined: Jun 26, 2008
there is carpet in the bedrooms I hate carpet, its disgusting. it will be out of there eventually but that is sort of low on the priority list right now. it was obvious that a cat had been spraying and was probably living under the porch. I think my dogs have elimnated that problem but I imagine that it was a flea factory.
I will never live in a house again with carpet. Getting rid of our carpet was the best thing that ever happened to my house.
Joined: Jun 26, 2008
I need to go read the article again it has been a while, hopefully when I get home today the house will have dsl and I won't be so short on my paid library internet time and can take a few to read it brush up on my flea knowledge. a series of complications has postponed the activation. the dogs aren't allowed in the bedrooms with the carpet which should help.
Carpet does make fighting fleas much more difficult. So does fabric on furniture. However, tile floors like I have and hardwood floors are difficult surfaces for large dogs and older dogs to get traction on and they can slip and hurt themselves. I watch my older German Shepherd get up from laying down on the tile floors and it scares me sometimes. Even her bed slips around when she's getting up and down. I'm wrestling with the idea of putting the carpet back down so she won't hurt herself. I'll probably dose it with DE and vacuum regularly to keep it clean.
John Meshna (owner)
Green State Hydroponics
1195 Dog Team Road
New Haven, Vt 05472