Natural Flea Control

Fleas in the home can be easily and effectively eradicated without the use of poisons.

The age-old scourge of fleas, usually associated with pet dogs or cats, can affect any home. And while chemical-based flea treatments can be effective, they may pose health hazards to occupants as well as pets. Natural and non-toxic flea control methods, such as Diatomaceous Earth, and electric flea traps, are safer options.

  • “Avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing.”
  • “Keep out of reach from children.”
  • “Dust released by collar is a cholinesterase inhibitor.” (Cholinesterase inhibitors lead to an accumulation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.This produces paralysis and then death in insects.)

These are common precautionary statements on many readily available flea treatments. But while the product may be effective at killing fleas, what is its effect on your pet’s health, or your family? Surveys show that as many as 50% of American families report using some kind of flea and tick control product on pets, exposing millions of children to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Initial research also shows that thousands of pets may be sickened or die each year as a result of chronic low-dose exposure to organophosphate-based insecticides through their flea and tick collars. But while there are countless stories of pets, and even people, who have suffered the ill effects of flea treatments, finding alternatives can be a problem for most people.

A few facts about fleas:

• Fleas are similar to cockroaches in that they adapt to their environment. They become stronger and more immune to the popular commercial flea control chemicals with each generation.

• Most of the fleas are living in your pet’s environment, rather than in its fur. Every flea found on your pet may mean that there approximately 30 more living in your home.

• A single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day. The lifespan of a flea is about 90 days, but the hibernating cocoon can survive up to year without feeding.

Controlling fleas does require some effort, but there are safer and effective ways to control fleas than chemical-based commercial flea control products.

Before reaching for pesticides, see if these safer, non-toxic methods help control flea problems:

Non-toxic electric flea trap

Controlling fleas indoors

Groom housepets and check for fleas

Combing your cat or dog daily with a flea comb is an important part of flea control. Bathing animals regularly is also advised. There is no need to use chemical flea shampoos. A water bath with a gentle soap that won’t irritate their skin is sufficient to eliminate existing fleas.

The best way to check your pet for fleas is to comb your pet with a fine-toothed flea comb – especially over the lower back near the tail base. You may pick up an adult flea, or you may collect black, pepper-like material. To determine if this black material is flea feces, place the debris on a white paper towel and add a drop of water. If it is flea feces, you will see a reddish-brown stain develop around the pepper since flea feces is actually digested blood.

Set a trap

You can trap fleas by placing a dish of soapy water under a night light near where your pet sleeps. Fleas are attracted to warm light and will drown in the soapy water. This works for adult fleas only, but with diligence, can be effective reducing the flea population. Fleas already residing on your pet aren’t likely to leave, so you will still need to flea comb and/or bathe them in a mild shampoo (even a baby shampoo will work as fleas don’t survive well in soapy water).

If the idea of keeping a soapy water dish near your pet is not attractive, plug-in flea traps (also called electric flea traps or lighted flea traps) are available. These electric traps are very effective. (They seem to also work well for ants, as we have noticed in our personal experience.) The images below show results using an electric flea trap for two weeks. You will notice the first image shows the sticky pad full of dead fleas, and the second image shows a reduction in the second week. This pattern shows the flea population is being reduced, and the trap should remain in place until no fleas appear on the pad. Once the area is cleared of fleas, the trap can be moved to any other location where fleas appear.