Isabel Garrison

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since Nov 09, 2013
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Recent posts by Isabel Garrison

I try to live and let live when i can. Black ants are useful and aren't really much of a pest, so I leave them alone as long as they don't move in too close to the garden.

Fire ants like to bite me, so they get the Diatomaceous Earth treatment, usually dispensed when I'm cutting grass. I carry a container of it on the lawnmower. Take a stick to stir up the hill a bit and expose the egg chambers just under the surface. Then BAM! Dump on the DE and be generous! Ants will feel compelled to save the eggs and end up getting sliced up by the DE. It doesn't kill them all, but it makes a pretty good dent and disrupts their life cycle.
7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

Bethanny Parker wrote:Is it enough to do flea control in the house if the dog is going outside every day? Are there plants I can use to deter fleas outdoors in the area where the dog hangs out during the day? I am more worried about the fleas on the dog than the fleas in the house. We have not had fleas in here that were bad enough to bother anyone. I just feel bad for the dog, seeing him scratch all the time.

Hi Bethany... I had a survived a severe flea infestation this year and I can say with confidence that NO, inside flea control is not enough. I have indoor/outdoor cats and this year the fleas were worse than any year before. I am CONVINCED that my broken lawnmower had something to do with it. I wasn't able to cut my lawn for several weeks early this summer. So until I was able to get it repaired, I had my own little backyard jungle. It was awful! Unbeknownst to me, fleas were happily hiding out in the grasses, waiting to hitch a ride into my house on my cats and me. It took months to get the fleas out of my house.

My own research and experience suggests that proper yard maintenance plays a huge role in mitigating fleas. Keep your grass cut regularly (no shorter than 3 inches or it will impact lawn health). Remove any weeds, brambles or plant overgrowth near your home and where your pets spend time. This will reduce the places that fleas and other pests can safely hide out. It may take a bit of manual labor, but all this can be done without the use of pesticides or herbicides.

I read a lot about plants that supposedly deterred fleas, but have not tried these myself yet. The common theme seems to be that it is plants with the stronger scents are supposed to be the most effective. Mint, lavender, lemon grasses, and catnip are just a few examples... (Catnip will attract the neighborhood kitties. Be careful where you plant this, as they like to roll around in this and may end up rolling around in other nearby plants as well. It's kind of fun to watch actually.)

Marigolds are also a staple for deterring garden pests, though I've not heard of it being used specifically for fleas.

Citronella plants, fleabane, fleawort, geraniums and eucalyptus are also effective insect deterrents, but are said to have a TOXIC effect on pets. BE CAREFUL!

7 years ago

John Polk wrote:Perhaps you can find some of these flowers that do well in your area.
Though "fleabane" hasn't been proven, it couldn't hurt anything.


I was considering this plant and did a little research. I see that this plant is toxic to dogs, cats and horses, so please be careful!

7 years ago