Steve Tvedten's "The Bug Stops Here"
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Adult fleas are truly the "vampires" of the insect world because they feed only on our blood and the blood of our pets. They are narrow, small, wingless insects, red, brown or black in color and are protected by a hard flat shell. They are hard to see and even harder to kill with volatile pesticide poisons - so why use poison? When you try to find this tiny (1/32" - 1/3") invader, remember to check your pet closely behind the ears, at the base of tail, on the stomach and between the toes. The flea has armor-like plates in layers - each with backward pointing spikes (or spines) so they can move easily and quickly through hair or feathers. Their feet have double claws for holding on to their host and they also have a barbed "mustache" under their mouth to further anchor them to the skin as they feed with their piercing-sucking mouth parts.

Their bites cause an inflammation of the skin and can carry disease and parasites. Fleas can pull up to 400 times their own weight. Fleas literally "fly" with their hind legs; they can jump 150-200 times their body length (the equivalent of a man jumping 1,400-1,800 feet!) Behind their legs is a rubbery-muscular protein that allows them to move against gravity 135 times faster than you or me. After its lift-off, the flea cartwheels end over end, until it reaches its new host/meal. One pair of mating fleas living for nine months can theoretically produce a quarter of a million little "vampires", or up to one trillion offspring in a year! To the voracious little flea, dogs, cats, birds, humans or even elephants are simply something to eat.

Frequently launder pet bedding and rugs that pets frequent in hot, soapy water and dry in a clothes dryer or direct sunlight. Steam clean, vacuum or rinse-and-vac carpets with Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint (1 oz. per gallon of water) and/or borax (½ cup per gallon of water) thoroughly to remove lint and dust around baseboards and cracks where flea eggs and larvae accumulate. Eliminate vegetation that will harbor native mammals and/or rodents. Prevent pets from resting under the building, and exclude wild mammals by screening attic and eaves entrances. Thoroughly clean furniture in areas that pets tend to frequent and use. Wash frequently using Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint. Most research shows adult fleas rarely leave the host ( the primary environment); the second environment is the carpet/floor or nest/burrow which contains the majority of the flea eggs, larvae and pupae. You must control both environments to control the flea infestation.

The secret to flea population management is the flea's life cycle; the adult must contribute timely nourishment for larvae under special conditions or the young will not survive. No longer a regional problem, today fleas are common in all parts of the country except very dry areas (so install a dehumidifier). The most important and common species that you must manage is the cat flea which feeds on a variety of hosts, including cats, dogs, rodents, foxes, opossums and humans. This flea prefers pets and will not affect humans unless populations are excessive or the pet is removed from its resting areas. The situation that occurs when families remove the pet, take a vacation, then return home to find ravenous fleas is not uncommon. An outline of the sequence of events:

Fleas belong to insect order Siphonaptera. They are tiny wingless insects that undergo complete metamorphosis, having egg, larval, pupal and adult stages. There are over 2,400 described flea species in the world, 95% of these are parasites of mammals; the remaining species parasitize birds. Over $6.6 billion is spent (totally) by pet owners trying and trying and trying to get rid of fleas just in the U. S.! The fight has been going on a long time - W. Colas in his book Adam in Eden: or Natures Paradise published in 1657, noted that "water in which rue (Ruta) has been soaked, if scattered about the house, will drive away fleas and kill them."


Doris Rapp, M.D. has noted:
Do not use typical flea or tick pesticide collars, shampoos or powders or No Pest Strips. Some of these can be associated with an increased incidence of cancer and birth defects.
If pregnant women use these, the chance
of brain cancer in their children is doubled.

  1. Wash pets in Not Nice to Fleas® or 1 - 2 oz. of Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint as needed. Steam clean or vacuum thoroughly every day for two weeks and/or mop with 1 cup of borax per gallon or wash or rinse-and-vac floors or spray with diluted Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint. Use a steam cleaner weekly to clean carpets, floors and furniture. If you spray carpet with 1 gallon of a 2% solution of borax, boric acid or sodium borate per 2,000 sq. feet - and then respray with another gallon of hot water you take the toxic material (crystals) down to the nap. Note: Borax laundry powder may stain or cause rust.) Keep infants off borax treated floors.

  2. Mop the floors with 1 oz. per gallon or spray 1 oz. per quart Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint and/or 1 cup borax per gallon of water. Spray yards and crawls with 1 oz. per quart Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint or plain salt water (borax and/or salt water will also kill plants).

  3. The oldest form of flea control was to catch the flea, place it between your thumbnail and forefinger nail and press until you heard a nice pop. As each flea female can lay one egg an hour, this may not be a very practical or "easy" job.

  4. Steam clean and/or rinse-and-vac with diluted Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint and/or borax. This will remove dried blood, carpet fibers and other debris, diluted excrement, flea larva and their silk, eggs, pupal cocoons, adults, feces and other food sources. Carpet is the perfect flea environment!

  5. Spray pets with (1 oz. per quart) Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint or bath them in Not Nice to Fleas® (is Nice to Pets) or 1 - 2 oz. of Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Pepper- mint and wash bedding weekly in Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint and/or borax.

  6. Use a hose-end sprayer and spray the yard with nematodes or with (1 - 2 oz. per gallon) Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint to control outside flea sources. Note: 90% of opossums in urban Midwest areas are infected with fleas. Hot summer temperatures (especially when dry) normally prevent fleas from developing. Only shady and moist areas need to be sprayed. Spray crawl spaces with salt water - be careful not to spray nails and/or any iron surfaces or ferrous metals.

If you are still seeing fleas, read The Best Control© or The Best Control II© on CD-ROM; there are many other alternative controls available.


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