Tag Archives: pests

A house infested with fleas! What to do?

My friend Jory is having problems with a flea infestation in his new house. Here’s what he has to say:

So, I moved into a new place a week ago Sunday. The woman there before me got two kittens about 3 weeks before she moved out. And there are friggin’ fleas.

So far, I’ve tried the following:

* I bombed the place with foggers TWICE. Within 20 minutes, the fleas were jumping around in the kitchen again!

* I put flea powder on the carpets

* I had the carpets steam-cleaned

* I have put diatomaceus earth around the kitchen and other places I’ve seen the fleas.

* I’ve got a flea collar in the vacuum and have been vacuuming about 6 times each day. (Pretty much every time I need to walk into a room or leave it again.)

I’m not even sure where the hell the fleas are coming from anymore, but it seems to me they’re living in the kitchen, which doesn’t even make sense. The kitchen has a linoleum/vinyl floor. The edges curl up to the kitchen cabinets, so I’m theorizing that they’re living/laying eggs under the lino, which is protecting them from the foggers and allows them to jump out moments later and appear under the kitchen cabinets from seemingly nowhere.

What do you think? Ever heard of fleas living under lino?

Thanks for your help!


Ah, the never ending battle against blood sucking insects. Fleas have got to be some of the most annoying, because they seemingly appear out of nowhere and last for ages! Well, onto the questions.

First off, a little bit about fleas. Fleas are a wingless, blood sucking insect that feed on animals (and therefore humans). There are good number of different flea species, but the most common flea causing problems in a household is the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis.  The good news with this flea is that it doesn’t transmit plague (unlike the rat flea which spreads bubonic plague). Since I don’t have a specimen to identify, I’m going to assume that Jory has C. felis.  The bad news is it is still a blood sucker, and therefore still really annoying to anyone unlucky enough to get infested.

Most fleas spend their time on animals, blood feeding for several days or until they are groomed or knocked off. The cat flea doesn’t infest humans (i.e., doesn’t stay on humans for long periods) but can and will bite humans for a blood meal. Flea bites present as small, round, red marks, usually on the ankles or lower legs. People who are sensitive may see raised bumps and experience intense itching and rashes. Sever allergic reactions take approximately 12-24 hours to develop, and can last over 7 days. In the case of a bad reaction, a topical antihistamine cream, and an oral antihistamine may be used to treat the symptoms.

Fleas have a relatively simple life cycle, which makes interrupting said life cycle easy. The female flea must take a blood meal in order to produce eggs. She then lays her eggs within 2 days of her first blood meal. The eggs are found in pet bedding, carpet, upholstery–that sort of place. The eggs are tiny (1/50th of an inch), white, and generally round. They are rather delicate, and can be dried out by many products. A single female flea can lay up to 27 eggs per day for around 9 days.

The female flea also excretes what she doesn’t use of the blood meal as feces, often termed “flea dirt” which serves as food for her young. The feces looks just like dirt, and can most easily be seen in the fur of infested animals. FYI–if you were to place this dirt in water, it would rehydrate and turn the water bright red. Science is fun AND interesting!

The eggs hatch between 2 days and 2 weeks after being laid (depending on temperature–optimum temperature for this species seems to be between 80 and 90 F, with a relative humidity of 70%. They will hatch at lower and higher temperatures, just not as quickly or readily. They don’t seem to hatch below 50 F) into a small, worm-like larvae. These larvae are the most vulnerable stage. The larvae live in the carpet, bedding, or upholstery, feeding on flea feces in those same areas. The larvae go through several stages, or instars, in this form, and stay as larvae for as few as 6 days, to well beyond 2 weeks, once again depending on temperature.

Once the larvae have finished their instars, they begin to collect debris in their immediate area–things like hair, dust, dirt, fibers, etc. They use these debris and a silky material produced by their saliva to construct a hard casing around their entire body. This casing is almost impossible to see, because it is to completely camouflaged with its surroundings. The flea undergoes a complete metamorphosis inside the casing, where it breaks down its body into its basic components and reforms it into the adult flea form. This stage is very hardy–it can take a lot of stress and abuse without dying. In fact, most insects use the pupal form to survive adverse conditions, such as winter or drought. Fleas are no exception, and it is very, very hard to kill the pupal stage.

Pupae take between 7 and 10 days to emerge into adults. However, if conditions are adverse, they newly formed flea may stay in the pupal casing until it is all but guaranteed a blood meal after emergence. This is why an empty home can suddenly have a flea infestation right after you move in. Fleas can stay dormant in the pupal stage for months at a time, waiting to sense a blood meal. Vibrations caused by walking and moving appear to trigger the dormant insects into emerging all at the same time. Fun for all involved!

Newly emerged adults must have a blood meal to survive. They will attach to any animal that happens to be in the area, feed, mate, and repeat the cycle.

So, in an indoor habitat, let’s assume that the average temperature is 75 F most of the time. This would put the life cycle at 1 week for the egg stage, 10 days for the larvae, and 10 days for the pupae (approximately). That’s about 27 days for a flea to go from egg to adult. Assuming Jory moved into his home and didn’t notice any adult fleas when he went to look at the place, then all the fleas he’s dealing with now were in the earlier stages of development–egg, larvae, or pupae. So what should he do?

Provided you don’t have a pet that is re-infesting the house, fleas are rather easy to control. The simplest thing to do is vacuum. A recent study showed that vacuuming up any stage other than pupae kills the flea (so eggs, larvae, and adults are all killed by the vacuum) so the first step to control is to vacuum any and all areas that are infested. Make sure you include upholstery, beneath furniture, and along edges. Jory mentioned that he thought there may be some fleas beneath the linoleum. Remember that all an immature flea needs to survive is flea dirt, so it’s very possible for fleas to live in all kinds of habitats. Vacuum wherever fleas are suspected.

Flea bombs are a way to quickly kill adult fleas, but they present their problems. They must be used in a tightly closed area, and are designed for specific square footage. If you attempt to use a bomb incorrectly, it will not kill the adults at all. Secondly, there are really only a few pesticides licensed for indoor use. Fleas have this annoying ability to evolve, and the more they are exposed to a pesticide, the more likely they will become immune from it. Jory has tried the flea bombs, and says they fleas come jumping out right afterwards. This tells me they have been exposed before, and are now immune to whatever is in the bomb. I suggest finding another type of bomb with a different pesticide in it, or simply physically remove the fleas with a vacuum.

Diatomaceous earth is a great way to kill eggs and larvae. The fossilized diatoms act as razor blades, cutting the integument of the fleas to ribbons, and causing the fleas to dehydrate or bleed to death. This doesn’t work as well on adults, but works a bit. Spread the DE around any areas where fleas are found, wait a bit, then vacuum it up.

The biggest thing to do is wait. Remember the life cycle–you can easily kill the eggs and larvae, but the pupae are a pain. You may have to wait them out for up to 2 weeks. Vacuum at least twice a day, wash bedding, and clean upholstery, and within a month you should have interrupted the life cycle. Good luck!

Update: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about outdoor habitats, so I thought I’d add what I do whenever I move to a new place.

I have dogs and cats. These dogs and cats love going outside and bringing back whatever critters they find (the least of which is fleas!). Fleas are often found in the yard, especially in areas where an animal sleeps on a regular basis. This is a very common place to find flea larvae, in fact. As your pet sleeps outside, he will allow the adult fleas to drop flea dirt into the soil, and feed the flea larvae. If you don’t treat the outdoors as well as the indoors, you will end up reinfesting your house every time your pet walks outside.

When I move into a new place with a yard, the very first thing I do is treat the yard. Since I have pets and a garden, I HATE using chemical sprays outdoors (besides, I don’t want to kill off the fireflies and other awesome things I have back there!). So, I instead rely on flea nematodes–a microscopic worm-like organism that feeds on the flea larvae and lives in the soil. I buy mine from Amazon, and sprinkle the entire back yard, focusing on the areas where my dogs and cats sleep.

Now, keep in mind that this is a long-term treatment, and won’t completely eliminate the fleas in your yard right away. Instead, the nematodes will reproduce from year-to-year, providing long-term control. Bonus: these nematodes also feed on other undesirable plant pests like plant-eating beetles and some flies. Excellent!

Once you have treated the entire back yard, you can keep an eye out for where your animals sleep. After my pets have settled on an area, I buy another box of nematodes and heavily treat the preferred areas. I repeat this step every two years or so (depending on the flea infestation I notice each spring and summer). I tend to have no fleas in the back yard by the end of year three, and only have to spot check every once in a while. Good luck again!

Update 2015:
For those of you who don’t know, I live in Texas. Over the past few months we’ve been having epic rain storms, and the moisture, coupled with the warm weather, has been a boon for fleas around here. We’ve also had an influx of stray cats and other warm-blooded animals trying to get out of the rain, which means our domestic animals have been fighting a flea epidemic the like of which I haven’t seen in a long time.

This epidemic prompted me to start looking for new flea treatments. You see, with my normal maintenance, we haven’t had to deal with a bad flea season in a long time. This one took me by surprise! Luckily, in the years since I’ve had to do emergency flea treatments, there have been some new developments in the flea control market.

The one that I found that has worked the absolute best is Nitenpyram, sold under the brand name CapStar, or its generic name CapGuard. The chemical binds to the neural system of insects, and causes death within a few minutes or so. It comes in pill form, which is administered to cats and dogs over a certain body weight. The chemical is ingested by ectoparasites (like fleas) through blood feeding, and the fleas die 30 minutes after the animal takes the pill.

I was a little skeptical about this treatment, but I must say it worked beautifully. One of our cats was especially heavily infested (he’s awfully friendly with the neighborhood cats), and he spent about an hour scratching and running around as the fleas began to die off. They didn’t go quietly–I could see the suckers running around his fur, and I can only imagine how much that itched! By about 2 hours post pill, however, he was completely flea free for the first time in two months.

This pill is supposed to continue to kill off fleas for about 48 hours before the chemical is completely eliminated from the animal’s system, so it needs to be used in conjunction with a repellent (like Advantage or Frontline) to ensure the fleas don’t reinfest. It’s a great way to remove the fleas from animals, though, so you can get that population knocked down!

Public Health Significance of Urban Pests

The World Health Orginazation has just released a comprehensive report, written by various pest athorities, about the status of urban pests. This report is meant to be a basis for public policy. The orgination asked leading experts on various pests to put together as much information about each pest as possible. The pests covered in the report include cockroaches, dust mites, bedbugs, fleas, pharaoh ants, fire ants, flies, body lice, ticks, and mosquitos. There’s also information about vertebrate pests, as well as a section on allergic asthmas.

The best part, though, is it is published on the web for free:


Although if you’d rather have the bound, hard copy version, you can purchase it from WHO for $120 plus $12 shipping.




Bed Bugs! (How do we control these bastards?)


I received an email earlier this evening–my cousin living in New York, in a beautiful old building. Apparently, his building is experiencing an infestation of bed bugs. Here’s his email:

I’m sorry to “bug” you about this, but i have some entomology related questions and i really need the help of an expert. there has been a huge bed bug problem in brooklyn and everyone i know is getting them. there is a lot of hysteria and misinformation, which is why i thought i would ask an expert. bed bugs is like the new AIDS in nyc.

here’s the deal: my apartment seems fine, but i have close friends in the adjacent building (which is owned by same landlord) who have bed bugs. we live in 100-year-old tenement style buildings that are cheap and beautiful but very poorly maintained. there is a lot of back and forth traffic between the two buildings. their apt has been exterminated twice, but the problem persists. other tenants in their building also have had them for quite a while. worse, mutual friends who live outside of our buildings have recently discovered bed bugs. and nobody knows if it has been spread around from visiting. i’m really worried that i’m going to have them soon, since i constantly hang out with the same people. i really don’t want to move or see my neighbors move since this would mean moving somewhere really ghetto or taking on a huge increase in rent.

Now, what good is having an entomologist in the family if she can’t help with insect infestations? So I spent several hours writing up a comprehensive inspection and treatment plant for him, then thought “hey, this would be perfect for my blog!” So here it is. Enjoy!

At the moment, bed bugs have made a huge come back in the US. They are extremely common in big cities (such as New York, SF, Chicago and LA) and have infested many upscale hotels and apartment complexes, which, as you might imagine, has caused no end of media coverage.

The good news is bed bugs have not been linked to the spread of any disease at all, and are therefore less dangerous than more common things like fleas. The even better news is that if you have an infestation it can be managed relatively easily so you won’t have to move or get rid of all your stuff.

The bad news is the management can be time consuming, and bed bugs can be really annoying. You can develop allergies to bed bug bites pretty easily, so prevention and treatment are important.

Basic Bed Bug Information

Bed bugs are extremely small (about 1/16th inch), blood-feeding insects that live in very tiny places and tend to emerge at night. (To give you an idea about the size, fully grown adult bugs have been found in picture frames between the glass and the frame itself). The females need a blood meal to produce eggs, and lay those eggs in small, protected areas such as crevices in beds, behind loose wallpaper, or cracks in the base boards. The eggs are laid in a sticky substance that allows the eggs to stick tightly wherever they are placed. Adults lay a stand of eggs every 15 days or so. Once the eggs hatch, the larval or baby bed bug needs a blood meal to grow. Bed bugs can live for around a year without a blood meal, which is one reason they are so tough to get rid of. They thrive in areas that are climate controlled, which is why they are so prevalent inside apartments and hotels.

Bed bugs can be easily spread. Since they are so small, they can crawl into clothing, luggage, animals, etc. and happily move to new places whenever they can. Most infestations start when someone travels to an area with an infestation and the bugs infest their luggage, or when an infested piece of furniture is brought into the home.

If you have a reaction to the bed bugs (most commonly a welt and itching around the bite) you can treat it with topical cortisone to reduce the itching and Benadryl or other oral antihistamine to control the reaction.
Now onto the good stuff: treatment. First step is making sure you’re infested by bed bugs. You don’t want to treat for them if you don’t actually have them. Bed bugs are found in small areas, and while they are commonly in the bedroom (since that’s where people are sleeping and easy meals) they can also be found everywhere else. You need to do a thorough inspection of the apartment to both identify if you have an infestation and where the bugs are. You don’t want to miss a group of bugs, since just a few adults can spark a full blown infestation within 2 weeks.

Step 1: Inspection

Inspection tools:

  • A quality flashlight
  • Thin blade spatula for looking behind wallpaper and under carpets
  • Screwdrivers and wrenches for dismantling bed frames, removing switch plates, etc.
  • 10x magnifying glass, just to make sure the bugs are alive when you find them
  • Garbage bags (for containing infested items as soon as you find them)
  • Packing tape (to seal garbage bags)
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Steam machine (recommended but not necessary)
  • Carpet adhesive (available at any hardware store)

Start your inspection where you’ve seen the bugs or where you think the infestation started. Look along all edges, crack, seams, and fold. Screw holes are very important and can house huge populations. The bed itself should be carefully inspected, and the frame taken apart. Favored areas for the insects are where the head and shoulders of people rest. However, fully and carefully inspect the entire bed and frame.

As soon as a bed bug is discovered, stop your inspection and treat the insect. Bed bugs are easily disturbed, and may scatter once discovered. Don’t give them the chance to find new hiding places. Once those bugs are taken care of, continue your inspection where you left off.


  1. Remove any mattress pads. Start with the edging/piping of the mattress, and look along all stitching lines.
  2. Check along the sides and edges of the mattress first, then continue to the top and bottom, following the stitching lines as a guide.
  3. Finish by giving special attention to labels, tags, air screens or buttons that may be present. Also closely inspect any holes or tears in the mattress, as these will allow easy access to the center of the mattress and could indicate a fully infested mattress.

Box spring

  1. Start with the edging and piping on the box spring.
  2. As you lift the box spring from the bed frame, pay special attention to the frame itself. Bugs on the frame will scatter seconds after being exposed to light, so check the frame immediately after lifting the box spring.
  3. Look under any plastic guards, if present. If there is a bad infestation, remove the plastic guards to check for bugs, then reattach with a staple gun.
  4. Double check any folds and attachments, and remove if necessary. (If there is no evidence of infestation in the box spring–i.e. fecal matter, bugs themselves or blood spots, then don’t rip it apart just to check thoroughly. I’ll give you some treatment advice in a bit).
  5. Check any countersunk screws, depressions, cracks, or dings.
  6. Finally, check the joints and corners of the spring itself.

Bed Frame

  1. Remove mattress and box spring and start with the rails, paying special attention to joints, welds, end caps, cracks, holes, seams, countersunk areas, damage, and dents. Bed bugs will hide in both metal and wood frames.
  2. Inspect all cross bracing, paying attention to areas listed above.
  3. Inspect the legs, wheels, and casters (if present).
  4. Remove head and foot boards, and pay special attention to features mentioned in #1.
  5. If bugs were present on mattress or box spring, you need to take the bed frame apart for an adequate inspection. If bugs were not found during your other inspections, you can adequately inspect the frame without dismantling. However, if you don’t dismantle it, be very careful during your inspection to not overlook possible cracks and seams.

Bed Area

  1. Move the bed frame and inspect area where the bed met the floor, paying special attention to dents or depressions in the carpet or floor.
  2. Inspect the baseboards, checking in cracks, depressions, peeling paint, peeling wallpaper, under plugs and phone jacks, and under carpets.
  3. If carpeting butts up against the baseboards, or is affixed to the wall, carefully peel it back a few inches to check for bugs. Carpet can be replaced using carpet adhesive. Use carpet adhesive sparingly.
  4. Remove any area rugs that were near the bed and inspect the area beneath the rug, and the underside/edges of the rug itself. If bedroom has wall-to-wall carpeting, peel back several inches starting from the baseboards and inspect the floor beneath, tack strip, and the underside of the carpet. Replace carpet with carpet adhesive.
  5. Use spatula to scrape or scoop the underside of the baseboard. Angle spatula so leading edge rests on floor and trailing edge scrapes the bottom portion of the board. Inspect debris. This may crush any insects present, so pay attention to blood spots or fecal matter present.

Once you finish the bed area inspection, move to the next piece of furniture and inspect using the same guidelines. Don’t gloss over any area, especially if there is a known infestation, since these bugs are so tenacious.

For small electrical appliances or toys, hold item over a plastic sheet and briskly shake or tap the item. Inspect any debris that falls from the item for insects.

Step 2: Control

As soon as you find a bed bug, or evidence of bed bugs, start control measures to treat present bugs before moving on to next inspection area. Work efficiently and quickly–you only want to move objects once if possible to discourage insect scatter.

Set up a “clean” area. Inspect and treat a single area of the apartment, and once this is finished, you can put each inspected and treated item in that area. This will open up other areas for inspection and allow you to keep track of what you have inspected and treated. Make sure you don’t introduce any untreated/inspected items to this area, especially if a confirmed infestation is present.


1. Vacuum. As soon as you see a bug, vacuum it up. Once you have finished your inspection and treatments of the whole apartment, or the vacuum is full, empty it outside, preferably far from the building. Make sure you don’t let the contents touch your clothing or person, or you may carry bed bugs back into your home. If the vacuum has bags, seal the bag with packing tape and place it in the freezer for 24 hours. This will kill all the bugs in the bag. You can then dispose of the bag in the dumpster.

2. Steam machine. Steam is very effective as a treatment, and kills all stages of the insect. Once you have vacuumed the bugs up, thoroughly steam the area where the bugs were found. Make sure the area can dry completely, though, or you risk introducing mold and dust mites into the area (which are more dangerous than bed bugs in terms of allergies). For large items such as mattresses, put the item in front of a large fan. Steam kills the bugs instantly, but once the steam is removed the object is subject to re-infestation, so make sure to place the item in the clean area immediately.

3. Washing/drying. Clothing, bedding, and other washable items can be treated using the washer and dryer. Wash items at the hottest setting possible. The insects all die at approximately 120º F (48º C), so wash them on the “hot” setting, and dry them for at least 45 minutes on the highest heat setting. Any items that are near an infestation should be washed and dried (several times if it makes you feel better, although once should be enough). Items in other rooms or in dressers/closets away from the infestation may be ok, but to be safe wash everything in the apartment.

Items that cannot go through the washer (or you don’t want to wash) but can tolerate the dryer may be placed in the dryer for at least 45 minutes on the highest heat setting (at least 1200 F).

4. Freezing. Items that cannot be easily washed may be frozen. Cushions, pillows, stuffed animals, etc. should experience a core temperature of at least 230 F (-50 C) for 5 days to ensure total insect control. If you have access to a super freezer, instant death occurs at -150 F (-260 C). The lower the temperature, the shorter you have to leave the item in the cold.

5. Dry Cleaning. For items that cannot be washed, dried or frozen, you can take to the dry cleaner. However, the cleaner must be informed of the possibility of bed bugs so the owners can take proper precautions. This gives them the opportunity to charge you a lot more, so use this as a last resort (and for your very best clothing).

6. Mattress Covers. If there are holes or tears in the mattress, or you suspect for any reason there may be bugs inside the mattress or box spring itself, cover the mattress and box spring with a plastic, bug-proof cover. These can be found online at the Bed and Bath Store, the Natural Allergy Store, or Allergy Solution.

If you suspect living insects inside the mattress, make sure you use the vinyl covers. If you are simply preventing a possible infestation, you can use the cotton-feel covers. Seal the covers with packing tape along the sipper and seams, and leave in place for at least one year. (Remember that adult bugs can survive for at least a year without a blood meal, so a minimum of 12 months is recommended to starve any living adults). Use this same technique to cover the box spring.

7. Washing. Use a stiff-bristled brush and soap and water to thoroughly scrub any areas where bugs are found. The eggs can be hard to dislodge, so hard scrubbing is necessary. Wash several inches around the infested area, and use a stiff toothbrush to get into nooks and crannies. Use the hottest water you can stand, and scrub for several minutes.

8. Insecticides. Certain insecticides can be used to control bed bugs. However, only a few are rated to put on mattresses. Make sure you carefully read the label on any chemical you buy.

Recommended insecticides:

Diatomaceous earth: this is a natural, dusty substance that wears away the waxy cuticle on the outside of insect bodies. This causes the insects to dehydrate and die (imagine crawling through a bunch of razor blades–that’s what happens to the bugs). However, it’s safe for human exposure and consumption, so can be used on mattress, clothing, etc. Dust any areas you find bugs. Reapply as necessary. Incidentally, diatomaceous earth is effective for killing most insects, including cockroaches, ants, aphids, and fleas, so it’s really a useful substance to have around the house.

Raid, Hot Shot: This stuff is nasty, but contains several different chemicals rated to kill bed bugs. This is not at all safe for humans, though, so you need to keep it away from anything that will come in contact with you or your family. Use the spray stuff to spot treat infested areas, and get a full house or room bomb to treat an entire room. Remove any food and clothing before treating the room, and do not use on the bed. Wash all dishes after you treat the kitchen. You should be able to get either of these products at hardware stores.

9. Seal cracks and holes. As you inspect each room, seal up any cracks, crevices, holes, or dings that you may find. Bugs can move from apartment to apartment in a building along wiring and pipes, so seal everything you can find. Also tighten down plugs, phone jacks, and light switch plates.

10. Professional Pest Control. Many pest control companies have specialists certified to treat bed bug infestations. This can be costly, however, and will introduce hard core chemicals into your house (which you may not want). If you have a bad infestation, this may be your best option. Double check that the company you choose has bed bug expertise, and get references and recommendations. Also make sure the company thoroughly inspects your property and offers follow up inspections.

11. Surveillance. Once you have finished all the inspection and treatment steps, spend the next two weeks on the look out for more bugs. Remember that adults lay eggs in 15 day cycles, so you may experience another surge two weeks after your initial treatment. If you see more adults, treat the area as stated above.

Step 3: Prevention

Once you have erradicated the bugs, or if you don’t have an infestation yet, you should take steps to prevent a new infestation.

1.Create a “clean” island out of your bed
. Move the frame away from the wall (to prevent access to the bed from the wall) and keep all bedding off the floor. Wrap your mattress and box spring in a mattress cover (if your just trying to prevent an infestation, you don’t have to use the vinyl ones, which may be uncomfortable. Try Natural Allergy mattress covers. They are made to feel like cotton and move with you) to keep bugs from getting in there. Place the legs of your bed in small bowls of mineral oil to prevent access via the legs. Wash your sheets and blankets in hot water and dry in a hot dryer at least weekly.

2.Vacuum frequently
–at least every other day if you fear an infestation. A few times a week is fine if there are no bugs in the building. Incidentally, frequent vacuuming also controls fleas.

3.If you have visitors that may have been exposed to bed bugs, have them wash their clothes and luggage
(remember you can freeze luggage or put it in the dryer instead of washing it. You can also dust it with diatomaceous earth). Have them keep the luggage in their room, preferably away from the bed, and wash their bedding daily. Vacuum their room daily as well. Once they leave, do a general cleaning of the room, including a thorough vacuum of the floor, mattress, and drapes. Wash all fabrics, and dust base boards and any cracks with diatomaceous earth. If you happen to find adult bugs, treat it as a full blown infestation and follow the steps outlined above.


Got Fleas? Vacuum!


Entomologists at Ohio State University have discovered an easy weapon in the fight against fleas: the household vacuum. General wisdom tells us that an important step to de-flea your house involves vacuuming the carpet and pet areas regularly. Now scientists have proven that fleas that get sucked up don’t come back out (at least, don’t come back out 98% of the time if they are adults, and 100% of the time if they are larvae).

The scientists also tested the toxicity of vacuum bags and the effects of turbulent air in an attempt to catagorize what actually kills the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis(pictured above). They found that the bags aren’t toxic, and the turbulent air doesn’t seem have any lasting affects. They postulate that a combonation of the physical trials presented by the vacuuming process causes damage to the flea’s cutile, causing adults, pupae, and larvae alike to dry out in the vacuum bag.

No longer must you immediatly throw out bags filled with fleas! Just know that a good, thourough cleaning job will help your pets live parasite free.