Homesteading Mama wrote:While the article I read had some informative material, I was disappointed by the amount of conjecture or the number of "statistics" that were the result of the author's speculation. I also believe he seriously downplays the potential severity of a flea problem and severely underestimates the number of fleas that are present when one is visible as well as how quickly they can multiply.
We have now, unfortunately, resorted to a pesticide spot-on treatment. I hate having to do that but I have to break the cycle and what we have been doing so far has not worked. The problem should be significantly improved by now if organic means were going to suffice but they have not.
Homesteading Mama, I agree with you wholeheartedly. The article this forum is based around states "Fleas are nothing more than a minor nuisance." Paul Wheaton... I generally respect your opinion, but in this scenario, I vehemently disagree. This suggests to me that you've never faced the severity of infestation that Homesteading Mama and I have faced.
This year, my two cats and I survived what I call the "Flea Fiasco of 2013". While I believe poor lawn maintenance (broken lawnmower) played a role in the severity of the my infestation, it arose seemingly overnight. Within a matter of days- before I was even able to realize what had happened- I had over 100 bites myself, so I have great empathy for your family. Knowing what I know about the flea life cycle, it actually didn't happen overnight. It happened over the course of several weeks or months, where my cats and I tracked in a small number of fleas, and the females laid hundreds of eggs and then they ALL HATCHED AT THE SAME TIME. When that happens, you have a full blown infestation.
For a month, I vacuumed and washed EVERYTHING, used DE everywhere I could put it (mattresses, rugs, couches, etc) and scrubbed my house from top to bottom for general cleanliness. I set soap-and-water flea traps. I bathed my cats and even rubbed them down them with DE. I put pillows and other things in the dryer in hopes that the high heat would kill the eggs. Organic solutions were NOT working.
I couldn't sleep because of the bites. I found I was scratching in my sleep, and I now have permanent flea-bite scars. My work (and my sanity, lol) were suffering. After a month of battle, I finally moved in with my parents and relegated my cats to the yard. I finally took the cats to the vet for conventional flea meds. (One tip... keep your cats separated for a day or two after using spot-on flea treatments so that they do not lick it off of one another. I know I was especially worried about that when I used the conventional treatments.) At my wits end, now after two months of fighting the fleas, I called out Terminex to spray my house. After 3 visits (and more DE, vacuuming etc), and two rounds of deep cleaning EVERYTHING because of the poisons I ended up using, I finally reclaimed my home.
I do use vacuuming and DE as part of my flea prevention efforts, and believe that it is effective for that. I'm exceptionally glad to have found out about DE, as I believe it does have it's place. It works great on fire ants too! But as the end all and be all of flea treatment during a massive infestation? NO! For me, keeping your pets treated and your yard well tended is your first line of defense in the War Against the Fleas.