Controlling fleas | Living the Country Life

Controlling fleas

Fleas are a challenge to get rid of but you'll get the upper hand by controlling their environment. Fleas live in moist, warm, shady areas. Your best strategy is regular sanitation of these "hot spots".

You can spend a lot of money on flea control products, but if you don't control the environment the bugs live in, you'll be going in circles. Understanding the life cycle of the flea is your first step.

Adult fleas spend most of their time on an animal. When they produce eggs, the eggs drop into the pet's environment and survive in moist, warm, shady areas. After the egg hatches, the larva goes into a cocoon-like pupal stage, and is resistant at that point to insecticides.  When the larva is stimulated by movement or heat, it emerges as an adult flea, and the cycle starts all over again.

Extension Veterinarian Carolyn MacAllister at Oklahoma State University says your best strategy for ending the flea life cycle is sanitation indoors and out. She says 95-percent of the flea problem is in five-percent of the environment, so rather than trying to clean up everything, focus on the hot spots.

"Check flower beds, underneath porches, underneath any sort of bushes, under decks, in those protected areas," MacAllister says. "That's usually where the dog hangs out, they don't hang out usually in the full sun for long periods of time."

If you have animals in the house, anything they sleep on or with should be cleaned often to get rid of emerging adult fleas as well as the eggs and larva.

"Their toys, your sheets and blankets on your bed, their beds that they have by your couch, or if they sleep on the couch, then you have to vacuum that couch top and bottom, pull those cushions out, vacuum under the couch if it's carpet. Vacuum the rugs really well they lay on," she says. "You can't throw your carpet in the hot water in your wash machine, but you can use a steam cleaner."

You may still need to use a flea control insecticide either on the animal, or in the house or yard. Check with your veterinarian for a treatment plan.



Radio interview source: Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Extension Veterinarian, Oklahoma State University

Click here to listen: Controlling fleas

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