Pests, in general, are annoying, but fleas can be among the most annoying you can have in your home. One of the major reasons for this is their small size and superb jumping ability. Flea bites can also be painful and itchy!
These characteristics mean they can hop from one host to the other with ease and go unnoticed.
So, if you see your cat itching, or you’re feeling itchy yourself, then you may be dealing with flea bites.
Not to worry, in this article we will be showing you how to get rid of fleas without the help of a pest control service, and several flea treatments you can use to keep them from returning.
The first step to getting rid of fleas is understanding their behaviors, as this will help you prepare for extermination and prevention.
As we mentioned earlier, these pests are tiny jumping insects that can easily move from one host to another. And while they could be found on humans, fleas like furry animals like dogs, cats, and many rodent pests more.
A flea bites the skin to feed on blood and they are great at hiding, which is why it is more common to find them on furry animals than humans, as the former provides more cover. Flea dirt on your pet’s skin is a clear sign they are infested.
If you’re wondering how small these pests are, they measures about 2.5 millimeters long. And as for their leaping ability, they can jump a distance of about 13 inches, both vertically and horizontally.
This is a testament to just how strong their legs are, and why they can easily invade your home.
They prefer warm climates, around 80°F to 90°F, with about 70% humidity. They do not like cold temperatures, and will do everything they can to find shelter during the winter.
When living in their preferred environments, adult fleas can live for as long as 21 days. On the flipside, if a flea doesn’t have a host and is out of its preferred environment, the flea will die within a day or two.
Same cannot be said of flea larvae though, as they can stay dormant for several months, while waiting for the perfect environment to present itself.
Now that you know about these jumpers and what they like, let’s take a look at how you got fleas in your home in the first place.
How Did I Get Fleas In My House?
If you’ve experienced a few flea bites, then you must be wondering how they got in your house. These flea bites aren’t just delivered by adults, as young fleas also feed on blood.
The jumping ability of a flea makes it easy for them to cling on to a host and follow them into your home. In this case, their host would most likely be your cat or dog.
Here are the major ways thy can get into your home.
1. Your pets
If your pets are fond of playing outside, then there’s a huge chance they will pick up some fleas along the way and bring them into your home.
The chances of this happening will be greatly increased if you have bushy lawns and piles of dead wood in your yard, as these provide adequate hiding places for these pests.
2. You brought them in
A human host is not the preferred choice for a flea, since our skins don’t provide cover like animal fur, but if you’re the only available option for food and shelter, you can be rest assured that they will jump right on and follow you indoors.
3. Rodent pests
Besides your pets (and yourself), they can also pounce on rodent pests and live on them for as long as their life cycle allows.
But rodent pests live outside right? That’s true, but if you leave your doors and windows open, or have other entry points into your house, then a flea infested rodent can make its way in and begin to spread fleas inside your living space.
This means you can have a flea infestation even if you don’t have dogs and cats!
How To Get Rid Of Fleas In Your House
It is estimated that adults are responsible for only around 5% of indoor flea infestation, and the remaining 95% is as a result of flea eggs, larvae, and flea cocoons spread around your house.
What this means is simple, when you want to get rid of them, you shouldn’t be thinking about the adults alone, as the flea eggs, larvae, and cocoons also have to be exterminated.
To get the best results, I advise you disinfest your home and pet simultaneously.
Follow these steps to remove them from your home.
1. Vacuuming your carpets
Since your pets play on the rug, jump on your couch, and snuggle with you on your bed, then you should concentrate on these areas, as a flea could’ve fallen from their bodies onto these surfaces.
Vacuuming is a great way to remove them from your floors and upholstery. They are good jumpers but they aren’t strong enough to escape the suction of the vacuum.
Make sure you go around every inch of your couch, pet bedding, carpets, and bed with the vacuum. You should also go through the cracks in your walls and any other area you consider a good hiding place.
Remember, they can hide in small spaces due to their tiny size.
If possible, use a vacuum with a bag, so you can get rid of it without making any contact with its contents. Dump the vacuum bag in a bin afterwards.
2. Steam clean
These pests love warm environments, but they can’t withstand temperatures higher than 90°F. That being said, a thorough steam clean is one of the best remedies to remove them from your rugs, mattresses, and other furniture.
Use hot soapy water during your cleaning, as they also hate soap. The combination of the heat and soap will kill the fleas.
Besides your carpets, pet bedding, and upholstery, you should also clean any mats where your pets usually lie down, as that is one area that would be most infested.
Don’t forget to do the same to any stuffed animals you may have, especially if your pets are fond of playing with them. If you have any flea infested item that cannot be steam washed, then your only choice would be to vacuum them. Other than that you may just need to throw it away.
3. Wash your beddings in hot water
After steam cleaning the items that you can, take out your beddings and soak in hot water to kill the rest of them.
These pests aren’t the best swimmers so they will easily get drowned. The heat from the water, as well as the soap will give them little to no chance of survival.
After washing, ensure that you dry them at the highest setting, just in case a few fleas survived the wash.
4. Use spray pesticides
This is one of the most effective remedies for flea treatment, as spray chemical pesticides kill fleas on the spot.
An aerosol spray is a great choice for flea treatment, since you can aim the spray directly on the infested spots. It is also great because you can kill the ones that are hiding in tight areas like cracks and crevices, as well as under your bedding and furniture.
I recommend you use an insecticide that contains adulticide (to kill adults), and a methoprene or pyriproxyfen to kill flea eggs, larvae and pupae.
As a safety precaution, make sure you wear gloves while spraying your furniture so your fingers won’t make contact with the pesticide. Also put on a nose mask so you won’t inhale it either.
One more thing, keep children and pets away from the rooms you are treating, as chemical pesticides are toxic.
5. Use A Flea Comb
If your pet is infested, then you can use a flea comb to treat fleas. The flea comb can help you get rid of some of the dog fleas and flea dirt, but you should employ more effective remedies afterwards. You can also ask your vet for a flea medication.
How To Get Rid Of Fleas In Your Yard
These pests are outdoor insects, and they only make their way into your home when they attach themselves to a host. That being said, your yard can provide adequate cover for them if it has piles of dead wood or unkempt grass.
If you feel bites on your legs anytime you’re in your garden, then it’s possible you have a flea infestation. If your garden is shaded, warm, and humid, then your suspicions may be correct.
Here’s what you can do.
1. Trim your garden lawn
The best way to deter fleas from your yard is to keep it well trimmed at all times. If your garden is bushy, then it creates a perfect environment for them to hide.
Let’s not forget that they also feed on the blood of rodent pests, and a bushy yard attracts such pests.
The trick here is simple – trim the grass to eliminate hiding places so it will be unattractive to rodent pests (the hosts), thereby eliminating the food source for fleas.
2. Get rid of dirt
Similar to bushy gardens, fleas can also be found around junk piles and dirt in your compound. Such piles include dead tree stumps, rotten wood, dead tree branches, and old cardboard boxes.
Rodent pests like raccoons are attracted to such piles, as they can easily hide there. And if they are present in your yard, then there will be an infestation.
Make it a habit to keep your grass cut and your yard free of dirt at all times.
The less hiding places there are for rodents, the less fleas you will find.
3. Spread cedar chips around your lawn
Cedar wood is a natural flea repellent, and you can use it to your advantage when you want to treat fleas in your garden.
You can spread some cedar chips around the areas where the they would be most active to help prevent them from staying. These would be the shaded warm areas in your garden.
You can also spread some of this natural flea repellent in the sunny parts, but it is most unlikely there’ll be any fleas there, as the sun’s rays will be too hot for them.
4. Use nematodes
Nematodes are small worms that eat fleas and flea eggs, so they can be an effective natural means to treat fleas.
You can visit a gardening center near you to get some nematodes. Spread them around the problem areas when you get home and let nature do the rest.
How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Fleas In The House?
A flea problem can occur in different stages, so the time it will take to get rid of fleas in your home will depend on what stage of fleas you are dealing with.
A full blown flea infestation (adults, eggs, and larvae) can take up to 4 months to eradicate. But if the infestation is at it’s early stages (no flea eggs have been laid), then you can remove adult fleas from your home within a day.
All you have to do is vacuum the areas where the host has made contact with, and wash any infested beddings with hot soapy water. You can also use a pesticide spray to kill fleas immediately.
What Do Fleas Hate The Most?
Fleas hate heat, and that is why they stay away from areas that are sunny. That aside, natural scents like vinegar, mint, cedar wood, citrus, and lemongrass oi can also repel fleas.
You can scatter these natural scents around the areas where your pet sleeps or plays to deter fleas, but be sure your pets aren’t allergic to any of these substances before applying them.
Are Fleas Easy To Get Rid Of?
The answer to this question is yes and no.
Yes because there are many natural substances they hate, which you can use to deter them from your pets, yard, and home.
No because they are very small and athletic, which means they can go unnoticed and begin to lay eggs before you even know it. Their jumping ability also makes it easy for them to move from host to host.
For effective flea control and prevention, make sure you mow your lawns regularly to reduce the hiding spaces for rodent pests that attract fleas, and clear out any junk in your yard.
Talk to your vet to see if you can add some flea deterrents to the collar of your cats and dogs to repel fleas and ticks. A pest control professional can also be of help.
Remember, flea bites can cause scratching among humans and leave sores on the skin, so be sure to get rid of them fast.