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Ideas for flea control on the Mesa?
updated: Jun 05, 2014, 4:38 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

A friend returning from a two-week vacation found that their cat sitter was not a good housekeeper. Their small house on Marine Terrace is hopping with fleas, biting the humans, although the elderly cats seem spared. Does anyone here have any suggestions? There is also an ant problem.

They have vacuumed, washed, etc. and they give their cats Capstar --- but both the humans and the cats have rather frail health so they're not interested in the usual exterminator spraying solution.

Knowing that edhatters often are very resourceful I said I'd post optimistically here.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 525511P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 04:54 PM

Not knowing the situation, my guess would be that the sitter is a professional, meaning, caring for several animals at once. Probably brought them with them. Dog parks and the beach are absolutely loaded with them.

Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled on carpets and upholstry, cuts up their exoskeletons and dries them up. Harmless to humans and pets (can be fed small amounts for worms, as well). There are also flea lights, like nightlights, that attract fleas with the warmth, but also have a sticky pad that traps them.

Best of luck, I know that there will be tons of other suggestions and solutions offered by our fantastic community!


 COMMENT 525514 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 04:58 PM

The best way to get rid of fleas is to use Boric Acid. It is a powder that is not poisonous to humans, it dessicates the fleas. You can buy it at OSH or any hardware store, it is often called Roach Pruf. You first vacuum, and then sprinkle the powder everywhere on all floors.
It's good if you can work it in to the carpet with something like a plastic rake. Then you vacuum again, about a day later.
Good luck!


 COMMENT 525515 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:01 PM

If you want the quickest solution to a severe infestation problem, call a pest exterminator company. They'll spray which will kill all the fleas that are alive.

Next, bathe your dogs and cats to rid them of fleas.

Next, apply Frontline, Advantage or some other exterior flea control product, repeat as directed, between the shoulder blades of your animal to kill the fleas that are going to be attracted to your pets in the future. If you don't do this, new fleas are brought home and you've wasted the extermination money.

Lastly, the pest extermination company may have to return to kill all the fleas that hatch after they've sprayed the first time.

We did all of the above and had a flealess life thereafter.

Good luck.


 COMMENT 525518 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:09 PM

Although diatomaceous earth is useful as a pesticide, I wouldn't recommend using it indoors - I used to work in a diatomite mine and the number one cause of death for my fellow workers was lung cancer/silicosis from inhaling the crystalline silica in diatomaceous earth.

I don't really have any other suggestions for getting rid of fleas but I've read that people deficient in vitamin B6 or B12 seem to be very tasty to fleas and mosquitos.


 COMMENT 525520 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:16 PM

Bowl of water in front of night light.


 COMMENT 525522 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:18 PM

They should keep an open mind about the use of an exterminator. It is the only approach with any guarantees.


 COMMENT 525523P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:21 PM

@515: Great! How do you feel? Need any more chemicals?


 COMMENT 525524 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:26 PM

Flea drops work well. Buy them at your local pharmacy (between $10-20) and apply along the animals back from the shoulder blades to the base of the tail. Takes about five days to wipe out those blood sucking parasites.


 COMMENT 525527 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:35 PM

I have 4 cats, and I have had lots of experience with getting rid of fleas. Here is what works, almost immediately. Siphotrol Plus II Premise Spray 16oz, available at amazon.com for in the house. For on the cats, I use advantage. This combination will clear the fleas that day. But you must do both the same day or the fleas on the cats go to the house, and house fleas to the people and cats. The base of the spray is chrysanthemum, and it is basically safe for all. I have never found a purely natural way to get rid of fleas, but this way works...and I have tried other methods...they did not work. Good luck. This is not an expensive fix, but it works everytime!


 COMMENT 525528 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:37 PM

Firstly, understand life cycle of fleas...we know they jump onto animals, but they also jump into your carpets to lay eggs and then hitch a ride back out however possible. A good practice is to sprinkle a dessicant (drying element) onto carpet that can be easily vacuumed up. Least toxic and quite effective is SEA SALT.


 COMMENT 525529P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:37 PM

At present I have only carpeting in my home and this is what works for me. I buy a gallon jug of household insecticide (the kind with a tube and nozzle). Starting one room at a time, I make sure a window is open, I spray the carpet directly, then close off the room for at least a couple of days, or until the carpeting is completely dry. And my dog gets Frontline Plus.


 COMMENT 525531P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:44 PM

Oh, how I loathe fleas. They absolutely eat me alive and I have dramatic reaction to their bites. Some people get bitten and barely get a bump...I get a huge, oozing bump. Once they've established a stronghold, a strong response is needed. First off, if they're free range cats, they'll keep bringing these blood-sucking hitchhikers home so these people will need to be willing and able to do Frontline, Advantage...one of those topicals. Fleas and flea eggs won't be fully contained by the vacuum, so the bag will need to be changed often...I would change after each use until they have a handle on the number of fleas that they're dealing with. I'd do the diatomaceous earth or boric acid as suggested earlier. I'd give these things a week or two to work and if I still had fleas, I'd set off flea bombs to get the kill going, then do the earth/acid thing.


 COMMENT 525534 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 05:47 PM

get rid of carpet- it holds nothing but dirt and dust without having pets...When pets are introduced to a house with carpet, it only gets worse...


 COMMENT 525536 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 06:15 PM

Did you know that flea eggs have no set time to hatch after they are laid, but rather wait until the perfect condition to hatch? I googled it because I have an indoor cat and all of a sudden had an infestation, and wanted to know about the life cycle of a flea. I sadly had to put one dose of advantage on her, washed all bedding and vacuumed and threw the bag away immediately after vacuuming. It worked....they are gone.


 COMMENT 525539 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 06:51 PM

Get rid of the cats first. Natural fleabags.

Then use most any of the methods described here for long-term relief.


 COMMENT 525540P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 06:55 PM

Get rid of carpets, and keep cats off beds and upholstery.


 COMMENT 525541 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 07:18 PM

"Adams" flea products.....at any pet store. It's the best
stuff. Got rid of a major flea infestation, and they did not come back!! (tried all of the above without much luck)


 COMMENT 525542 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 07:21 PM

Vacuuming several times daily until they're gone should be enough to kill the fleas.

Personal Experience


 COMMENT 525543 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 07:26 PM

cedarcide, Natural cedar oil. No harmful chemicals.


 COMMENT 525548 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 08:20 PM

Definitely go with the boric acid. It is not at all toxic to people but gets rid of the fleas. I mixed it in a carpet shampooer and that worked well.

If you have lawn, you can use nematodes, but they need moisture to survive. The nematodes (from OSH) will get rid of the fleas in the yard and is non-toxic to people.

Got rid of a horrible infestation this way several years ago and have had no problem since.


 COMMENT 525551 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 08:31 PM

All those chemicals...yeasch!!! Why does everyone want to KILL these creatures? You wouldn't kill a dog or cat, would you? I realize snakes, spiders, and so on "scare" people, but c'mon....don't kill them for goodness sakes! Put the cats (dogs as well) outside and let the fleas naturally "bug off" and live their lives in peace and without giving the big petro-chemical corporations your hard earned money.


 COMMENT 525561 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 08:48 PM

Before treating with anything vacuum really well and throw away the bag. Starting the day after treatment and every day for the next week vacuum really really thoroughly and throwing away the bags each time you vacuum. Fleas will live in the bags so you MUST throw them away. This will help get rid of the dead and dying fleas AND the eggs.


 COMMENT 525564 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 08:52 PM

When I was a kid I lived in Alaska and our upstairs neighbor had cats....and our apartment somehow got infested with fleas.

I got rid of them by turning off the heat and opening the window. :)


 COMMENT 525567 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 09:04 PM


1) Flea bites are painful and can get infected which is a health risk.

2) Have you ever heard of the Bubonic Plague? It was called the Black Death and killed over 25 million people and it was spread by fleas.

3) Typhus

4) Cat Scratch Fever (it's not just an album by Ted Nugent)

I know they are God's creatures and all that, but eww.


 COMMENT 525569P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-05 09:31 PM

Also, treat the yard with Nematodes.

stay away from poisons.

Dry the environment.... boric acid is good.

Could have been just timing and not the fault of the sitter.


 COMMENT 525578P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 03:09 AM

@529P. It is highly likely you are giving yourself and your poor dog cancer, using pesticides as you are. Please stop before it's too late.

OP. PLEASE DO NOT use pesticides! Bad for you and your animals. I have been a cat and dog owner all my life. "Comfortis" (spinosad) is the best method for treating your pets. You can get it, without an exam, at McDonald Animal Hospital, 225 S. Milpas, right near the freeway entrance.

Comfortis is ingested, as a tablet, by your pet. Within 30 minutes, the fleas on your pet will be dead. Spinosad is very enviro and absolutely the best treatment available. It really works. You don't have to worry about it washing off or rubbing off on you or your furniture.

When you vacuum, you must use that crevice tool and be vigilant about sucking up fleas/flea eggs wherever your walls meet your floor. Fleas really like to lay their eggs in those crevices. Sprinkling sea salt along these areas will help a lot.

You have to wash any and all bedding, including your own, that your pets have lain on. If they've been up on your sofa(s), then you must vacuum the entire sofa really really well. Use that crevice tool.

Pesticides are bad, bad, bad. I have never used them. My house has been flea free for years----ever since I started using Comfortis. And it is true that cats seem to harbor more fleas than do dogs. Just my experience.


 COMMENT 525583 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 06:46 AM

Comfortis is a pill that can be taken by animals once a month and will get rid of fleas. Gave them to our dogs after being prescribed by the vet and that night literally watched fleas JUMP off my dogs. Since they need furry animals, not humans, to be their host, the fleas are gone now and went to find some other dogs.


 COMMENT 525597 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 07:41 AM

GRITZ made an important point that should not be overlooked - fleas do get around between various hosts and different parts of the environment, so you should have an integrated approach that covers cats, peoples, home, and yard (especially if the cats ever go out even a little bit).

Carpet cleaning can be a big help as a first step, as can upholstery cleaning and washing of bedding. Use a cleaner who is familiar with infestations. There are exterminators who will cooperate with you on choice of method if you fear "chemicals". Do not use any chemical treatment (including so-called "natural", "organic", or "herbal" products) without a thumbs up from a vet who knows these cats well. A lot of "natural" products are quite toxic to cats and people.


 COMMENT 525598 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 07:42 AM

We have had dogs and cats forever and I have not seen a year of fleas like the past year since the 90s!! Maybe it's the drought?? I used to just treat the pets once or twice a year with Advantage (never had to worry about ticks) but it did absolutely NOTHING this year. I was putting out bowls of water and nightlights...vacuuming daily (hardwood)...washing all the bedding...NO MATTER...we were infested. Vet prescribed Comfortis and I was skeptical because I thought the fleas would just stay off the animals but still be in the house. Not so...they disappeared within a week!! I hope it keeps working!! It also prevents heartworm which has started showing up in our area.


 COMMENT 525599 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 07:43 AM

I find it hard to believe that a poison (comfortis) that will kill fleas within 30 mins after being ingested won't have long term health effects for your pet.

Once we bombed our house for fleas with the least toxic bomb, followed all instructions, and for months both of us suffered weakness in our hands and kept dropping things.

Maybe we're just lucky, but we have 4 short hair dogs, and bathing or rinsing them once a week and picking off any fleas that pop to the surface has kept them under control for the past 5 years. And my partner is one of those people that fleas and mosquitoes love.

If you try to vacuum frequently, vacuum up some boric acid at the end to kill any fleas and eggs you've picked up.


 COMMENT 525607 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 08:00 AM

Once you get the fleas under control I suggest buying a Seresto Flea Collar for your kitties. They are a bit pricey but they last for 8 months! I had a major flea problem last summer with my two indoor cats...and the house. Within a week all fleas were gone and have stayed that way to present. I took the collars off in Feb. They are often on sale at HealthyPets and Drs Foster & Smith websites.


 COMMENT 525611 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 08:15 AM

Revolution applied to your dog or cat once a month for 3 months will kill the flea and egg cycle in your house & yard. It's good for a list of parasites, ticks, ear mites, worms etc as well. It's sold by prescription but you can order it for much less $$ online by giving your vets fax #
I've only had to use it during the hottest part of the year - usually August, Sept & October but we had that record breaking hot spell recently and I had to start it then. Don't blame the pet sitter.


 COMMENT 525613P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 08:18 AM

Surely it would take more than two weeks of "bad housekeeping" to develop a serious flea problem. And since when is a cat sitter supposed to clean house (apart from emptying the litter box)?


 COMMENT 525617 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 08:33 AM

The fleas are really bad this year. Even Revolution is not working as well as it used to. Boric acid, spray outside and vacuum alot.


 COMMENT 525656 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 09:29 AM

People react differently to flea bites. I get extremely itchy welts and multiple bites usualy where clothing fits tightly. The fleas that get on the dogs that I have had in the past do not bite me, only the smaller fleas on cats that I have had. I don't know if this was because the fleas from the cats jumped off readily and those on the dogs did not. In any case and as a result of this phenomena I no longer have a cat only a dog and no flea problems.


 COMMENT 525689 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 10:16 AM

I hate fleas!

You can purchase flea traps that have a small incandescent light bulb (like an old-fashioned Christmas tree bulb) and a sticky substance. The fleas get attracted to the warmth and brightness of the little bulb, then get trapped on the sticky stuff.

You can make your own out of a small lamp and a pan of water. The surface water tension is enough to trap the fleas. Put the trap out at night before you go to sleep.

The pre-made trap with sticky stuff might be better if own pets ... no water for them to drink. Victor is one brand.


 COMMENT 525701 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 10:35 AM

I was swarmed by fleas last summer. I treated both dogs all winter, the house with diatomatiuos earth. It is harmful, use a mask, and change vac bags often. But it worked.
This spring I had yard sprayed twice.
Santa Barbara really needs to get all the parks sprayed. You will never get all the pet owners to buy flea control. I do not take my dog out anywhere.
It is a horrible problem.


 COMMENT 525702 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 10:36 AM

Did you ask them to just flee?


 COMMENT 525705P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 10:44 AM

Wikipedia. Spinosad (Comfortis' main ingredient)

Safety and ecotoxicology[edit]
Spinosad has high efficacy, a broad insect pest spectrum, low mammalian toxicity, and a good environmental profile, a unique feature of the insecticide compared to others that are currently used for the protection of grain products.[5] Spinosad is natural products-based, and approved for use in organic agriculture by numerous national and international certifications

OP. Please give it a try. You will thank those of us who are telling you it's the least toxic, best method for keeping fleas off your animals. You will be amazed at how flea-free your house will be, if you use the Comfortis and do your vacuuming/pet bed washing.


 COMMENT 525715 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 11:09 AM

Do not use flea traps. Those things kill indiscriminately. All species of insects and spiders are lured by the light and many of them are beneficial creatures. Sticky traps are a prolonged and gruesome way to die.

We use Comfortis, too. It cured our flea problem in no time flat. We'd never use any other product with our two dogs and one cat. (I do believe cats carry more fleas and drop more flea eggs, too.)


 COMMENT 525727 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 11:38 AM

We had the same problem this year. On top of our normal flea control I vacuumed 2/3x a day and dusted the house in baking soda every night before bed. The baking soda was much safer than other options and works the same way. We used nothing toxic to humans or pets. Problem was solved in a few days. Chemicals may work faster but we have a toddler and didn't want to chance her ingesting anything.


 COMMENT 525731P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 11:42 AM

Ant problem is happening for a lot of us right now. The best solution is to keep kitchen counters/table (and so on) spotlessly clean. Not a single crumb or drop of juice.

Always brush off any "scout" ants you may find. Wash off their trail(s) with vinegar water. I find out where the ants are accessing my kitchen and always sprinkle cinnamon or red pepper/cayenne at those points. Ants also hate chalk powder.

Then, and this will sound fairly whacky, I know, I like to eat watermelon and leave the rinds outside my kitchen, as food for the ants. Ants are desperate for water right now. They seem to leave my kitchen alone, if they have those melon rinds to feast upon. It works for me. But maybe my ants are better trained than most.


 COMMENT 525750 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 12:36 PM

The dilemma lies in the fact that most flea and tick products themselves are nasty, chemical-laden toxins. The most recommended flea and tick products—Frontline, Advantage, and Revolution—are made with chemicals that are toxic to our pets. Frontline is a class C carcinogen and works systemically entering the animal’s bloodstream. Advantage and Revolution stay in the subcutaneous (skin) layers and are less invasive but still somewhat so, and toxic. Fipronil, selamectin, and imadocloprid are the chemical agents in these spot-on products and are also found in shampoos and sprays.

Many products are also toxic to aquatic life, sickening fish and wildlife who live in or drink from streams and rivers where your dog with frontline plays.

Fleas are also adapting to Frontline, and it is becoming ineffective in more and more areas, thereby inviting the next more toxic product to be produced.


 COMMENT 525752 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 12:59 PM

The fleas are worse for your pet than the flea treatment. So much poppycock spewn here...OP- obviously vacuuming alone, or boric acid, or baking powder..etc all these things just wont work..unless you commit to doing them multiple times for longer than a week. If you want the problem solved...use what I recommended in my previous post. To those worried, it was recommended to me by my vet, and has no consequences for humans, or other pets. Plus...it seems very hypocritical to keep toxic fleas on the pets while an "organic" solution is tried (and found to not work).


 COMMENT 525759 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 01:12 PM

The post about leaving the fleas alone or on the animals is ridiculous! They can get anemic from fleas and can get tapeworm!!


 COMMENT 525780P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 01:49 PM

613P - actually, it was closer to three weeks than two; and as for the housekeeping you asked about, "since when....": it was in the written agreement with the otherwise very capable cat sitter.

As a follow-up, they are checking with their vets, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Comfortis was said to be two strong for the old cats.

I have ordered Comfortis from Australia (no prescription and less expensive even with the air mailing) for my dog. He doesn't seem to be attractive to fleas this year but when I got him from the shelter almost three years ago he had a lot.


 COMMENT 525799 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 02:26 PM

Vets are small businessmen and recommend all sorts of unnecessary products and treatments that are actually harmful to pets, just to make money.

As proof of this fact, it is now common practice to inject vaccines into a pet's limbs or tail. Why? Because many vaccines cause soft tissue cancers at the injection site and the limb can be amputated to save the animal's life in the event that it does develop a malignant tumor.

I absolutely disagree with the notion that common parasites are worse than the toxic chemicals that are prescribed to treat them - cats and dogs have adapted over millions years to survive most types of parasites, but man-made toxins have only been around for a couple hundred years.


 COMMENT 525899 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 05:50 PM

i've had good luck with pennyroyal & eucalyptus essential oil mixed in with borax or diatomaceous earth sprinkled, left overnight and then vacuumed up next day. Also freshens the carpets.


 COMMENT 525930 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-06 07:13 PM

Are people seriously concerned about humane treatment of pest insects?

Wow. I hope you are vegans and walk for transportation while wearing clothes handmade from bamboo.

I'm sorry, there are bigger fish for me to fry. If pests are in my home, I'm going to kill them the most effective and safe way possible. If a few extra spiders or stinkbugs get killed, oh well.

To the post about "get rid of the cats", to some of us our pets are family members. Would you just get rid of your kid because he didn't clean his room?


 COMMENT 525982P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-07 03:05 AM

Why yes, 930, I got rid of my daughter when one of the kid's in her classroom got head lice. Seemed the most prudent step to take. /snark/
Some people just hate cats and grab any opportunity to chastise people who love them.

When our cat gets fleas we give her a dose of Advantage. She's an indoor/outdoor cat and she needs treatment 4 or 5 times a year. Our last cat lived to 16 with this same regimen, so I'm not convinced Advantage is a killer toxin, except to fleas. We only had fleas in the house once, when we adopted our first cat and knew nothing about fleas; once the Advantage made the cat no longer a good flea hostess, the household fleas disappeared.


 COMMENT 525992 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-07 06:58 AM

Hands down, sonic flea repellent machines. Costco had them on their shelves years ago--you maybe able to find them online (they have them for mice too). I had a bad flea infestation when I got friendly with a stray cat. Just like a night light, you plug them into the walls and they emit a high frequency pitch sound that only fleas can hear. It irritates them so they don't reproduce and leave. I keep them plugged in and have never had fleas since. I've also done sticky flea traps in front of a night light which works. And if animals have fleas, they should be taken care of too.


 COMMENT 525993 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-07 07:02 AM

If you vacuum fleas you need to put a flea collar inside the vacuum bag. Otherwise, fleas stay alive and can escape the vacuum and back into the house.


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