1. Identify All the “Flea Hot Spots”
Which will be your pet’s favorite resting and sleeping areas. Be careful to notice ALL the places your pets rest. If you do not treat them all then you will NOT gain control of the environmental infestation. Pay close attention to cats’ resting areas especially, which are often up of the floor, and sometimes they are prone to hang out in areas that are not routinely cleaned such as the top of the fridge or windowsills, etc.
2. Clean Thoroughly
This is not to imply that fleas are there because the house is dirty, but rather that you have to realize that NOTHING you spray or treat with will kill the pupal cocoons. Manually removing them is by far the most effective way to deal with them. That means frequent cleaning, vacuuming, washing of the hot spot areas that you identified 2-3 times a week until you no longer see evidence of adult fleas emerging.
3. Treat the Environment
Indoors – all rooms that your pets have access to should be treated twice, one month apart with products that contain adulticidal components as well as an “IGR”. The key to success is the thoroughness of the application. Remember, if your pets stay indoors regularly and they have fleas, then you definitely need to treat your home! If you are cleaning the bedding areas frequently then consider spraying them each time they have been freshly cleaned until the infestation breaks, then treat them once a month (or after each wash if less frequent).
- Bombs – use a single bomb per room. They do NOT spread from room to room well at all. All animals must be evacuated, and fish must be covered, etc.
- Area Treatments – safe to allow animals back in the room once they are dry. They are made in aerosol cans or spray pumps that you can apply yourself.
- Professional Treatments – specify for fleas, and specify you want a new generation IGR. Baseboard treatments with routine pesticides will NOT address the flea nesting areas.
- Outdoors – remember, you DO NOT have to treat acres of the yard – you need to concentrate on kennel areas and your pet’s favorite sleeping or grooming places, especially shaded areas. Flea eggs and larvae cannot survive extended periods in full sun areas during the heat of our summers here.
If you see any fleas or flea dirt on your pets after 4-6 weeks of following this outline, you should seriously evaluate the thoroughness of each step. Be certain you have not missed any “hot spots”. If you miss even one hot spot, then you will instantly have a source of re-infestation.
4. Kill Fleas on Your Pets
Keeping your pets well groomed/bathed will help reduce the number of eggs and fecal pellets infesting the environment. Dips, flea collars, and most sprays really do not have much residual action at all and are a waste of time and money entirely. If you want quick, useful adult kill that can be readily re-applied look for a flea spray with an IGR.
The over-the-counter knock offs are cheap for a reason – they do NOT have any residual action like they claim and they seldom ever last more than 2-3 days top. They are generally permethrins and pyrethrins that were in the old flea sprays and those certainly never lasted a month either. There are generics of Frontline (fipronil) out these days, but you have to check the active ingredient listing to be certain you are getting a decent product and not simply a permethrin or pyrethrin.
Use a solid monthly product and consider using them every 3 weeks until the infestation comes under control. We recommend using the monthly products year-round. It is far too easy for a minor flea infestation to become a major one when you cease using the products over the winter and the few fleas already there multiply uninhibited.
5. Use an Adulticide
If you are truly battling a recurrent problem then we have found the best results are obtained by using an adulticide on the pet along with an IGR applied in the house or Program (Lufenuron). Should an adult flea not be killed immediately by the adulticide, then any eggs laid will be sterilized, thus breaking the flea life cycle!
6. Be Patient
Because of the new adults emerging from the resistant cocoons, you should expect a lag time of four to six weeks before achieving a significant reduction in the number of adult fleas infesting your home and pet. Any product will not seem to be working if your pet is being assaulted by hundreds of newly hatched fleas in a day (and they can be!). And if there was a heavy infestation, then bear in mind that you may see one final “bloom” of the fleas at the 5-6 month mark when all the old, original pupae hatch from their cocoons.
DON’T FORGET – if you have thoroughly accomplished Step 3, killing existing adult fleas and larvae, and started your pet on a proven monthly product, then new pupal cocoons will not be formed. Also if you fail to apply the products faithfully, then you are creating breaks during which those female fleas can lay 50 eggs a day in your house.
Remember, with an understanding of the flea life cycle, and the right Larvacidal products, total flea control is possible and affordable.