Safe, Effective Flea Control

by Suzanne Fisher

The life cycle of the flea

Adult fleas live about three to four months. During that time they steadily lay little white eggs in your carpets and on your pet. These eggs look like dandruff or salt crystals. The larvae that hatch from these eggs feed on tiny bits of dried blood (flea Dirt) that fall off when your pet grooms itself or is combed.

After one to two weeks, the larvae become pupa cocoons, and a week or two later (depending on conditions) these cocoons hatch into fleas.  The cocoon is ovoid, whitish, and loosely spun. Because the cocoon is sticky, it quickly becomes coated with debris from the environment which helps camouflage it.

Cocoon’s are typically spun around the base of carpet fibers or bedding material which make them impossible to remove with regular vacuuming. Vacuuming is recommended though as the vibration from the vacuum may stimulate the flea to the point of emergence. There is no effective flea treatment for fleas in the cocoon stage.

Flea pupae do not hatch all at once. It is believed there is some type of communication involved (pheromonal?, genetic?) that causes flea pupae to stagger their hatching over a varied period of time. This effect is sometimes mistakenly perceived as a flea control product failure when it is in fact a normal mechanism of the flea to increase the likelihood of survival.

The best flea prevention is feeding our furry friends high quality food.  Fleas do not like a healthy animal. If you have been feeding your pet food with animal by-products and/or chemical preservatives, you need to find them a healthier food source.

If that is not a possibility, then you might try boosting their immune systems with Echinacea.  Tincture of Echinacea in a glycerin base can be found in most health food stores.  Nature’s Answer, Turtle Island and Gaia Herbs have alcohol-free extracts of Echinacea. Nature’s Answer has flavored versions also. Put four or five drops on your pet’s food for 10 days in a row.

Alternate 10 days using the Echinacea with 10 days off the Echinacea for 6 months.

Your pet’s immune system will be substantially enhanced. But, please remember that even the best immune system cannot overcome substandard food.

Flea Treatment

If you have a flea infestation, steam clean your carpet.  Wash all pet bedding in hot, soapy water. If you have carpets, get table salt and sprinkle liberally on your carpet.  The crystal of the salt cuts the carapace of the adult flea and the flea bleeds to death.  Diatomaceous Earth can also be used for this, but salt is much healthier for both us and our pets to breathe in the home.

Vacuum once a week. If your vacuum cleaner has bags for collection of dust, then take the bag outside as soon as you finish vacuuming and put it in the trash. It is best to also seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag so the fleas vacuumed up cannot get out.

Sprinkle your carpet again liberally with salt.  Due to the varied life cycle of the flea, you will need to repeat this process for the next 6 weeks if you are doing it in the summertime, or the next 20 weeks if you are doing it in the wintertime.


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