I have an employee that is anti chemicals. He has an infestation of fleas in his house. We are in South Louisiana, way south. Below New Orleans. Sultry and hot. He had a cat. Said cat has expired. Fleas now are feeding on humans, etc. My guy doesn't want to do anything chemical to get rid of the fleas. What solutions? Besides moving? The house is up off the ground, built on pillars.
Perry
I will post this in several different forums so I apologize in advance for any redundance.
(Email Removed) wrote in
I have an employee that is anti chemicals. He has an infestation of fleas in his house. We are in ... to get rid of the fleas. What solutions? Besides moving? The house is up off the ground, built on pillars.[/nq]diatomaceous earth will kill them, but i don't know how effective it'll be on a real infestation. it may take awhile. if he's dead set against using poisons, i think it's worth trying DE. he can get it at any lawn and garden center, or at most hardware stores that carry gardening supplies. DE kills by piercing the exoskeleton and causing the bug to dehydrate; make sure he doesn't use the kind meant for pool filtration systems, because it's been polished.

it isn't toxic to humans or dogs/cats, but it's dangerous to breathe it. wear a mask when applying it and if he has any pets, keep them away from it, especially while it's airborne. he can work it into any carpet, then vacuum up the excess. i'm not sure how he'd apply it to hard floors. maybe just put it around the edges, then clean it up when the infestation is over? it might be a little obnoxious to live with in the short term, but i think it'd beat having fleas.

shelly (perfectly foul wench) and elliott and harriet http://home.bluemarble.net/~scouvrette
I lived in New Orleans with Genny from 1978-1983. My advice comes from then. Nothing I found was perfect, but all these ideas helped somewhat.
First, you need a vacuum with lots of spare bags. Vacuum the house. Burn the bag. You can put down something more substantial to vacuum up so the bag has hair or dust or confetti in it as well as the fleas. Do that at least twice a day. The idea is to vacuum up the new fleas as they hatch. Eventually, so the theory goes, you get them all.
Next, get wide shallow pans, preferably white. Fill them an inch shy of the top with water and add a few drops of dishwashing soap. Put these on the floor. Fleas hop around pretty much at random. When they hop in the water, they can't get out and drown. Since the fleas are black, they'll show up on the white background. This will give your employee an idea of how many fleas are left. The pans will be fairly full at first after only a few hours but will show fewer fleas as he continues with the vacuuming regime.
I'd remove everything cloth for cleaning. That's emptying clothes and linen closets. Wash everything in the hottest temperature at the laundramat and dry at the same. If there are carpets, either get them professionally cleaned (except they might use the chemicals he's trying to avoid) or throw them out. Remember curtains and table cloths. That's everything fabric.
He'll know that he's getting them under control by the number of fleas on his ankles. Once he feels safe that the fleas are gone, continue the thorough vacuuming for at least another 10 days. That's the life cycle. You don't want the eggs to hatch and start another infestation.
Personally, I gave up and used the pesticides. Louisiana is a wonderful place, and I would move back in a heartbeat, but that place does love its bugs. Now I use Frontline on Cubbe. I do have my misgivings, but the tradeoff is worth it. For anyone reading this living outside of Southern Louisiana who think I've made the wrong choice by abandoning the all-natural approach, you don't know the true meaning of the word "infestation." Trust me on that one.
Lia
One last thing Perry, if you get sensible ideas from the other groups you've asked, would you mind either summing them up in a post here or sending them to me privately? I'm interested in the subject and would like to know if others have found somthing that I haven't. There's a lot of folklore that doesn't work so I'd love a follow-up from your employee about what he tried, what works, what doesn't.
Lia
diatomaceous earth will kill them,

Yes. Watch inhaling the dust, both you and the pets, though. Major lung irritant, along the lines of asbestos, I've been told.

Think conifers. Pine oil in the laundry and to clean with. Cedar balls/strips/boards under the mattresses, pillows, sofa cushions, in the closets, behind the drapes. Sand to release fresh oils. Get rid of all old mulch and, if you must replace it, use shredded pine bark or pine straw. Make dog beds (or re-stuff the ones you have) with the cedar chips you can buy for bedding (like for hamster cages). You can stuff panty hose legs with cedar chips to put around all over the place, too.
Everyone, human and animal alike, eat garlic (or take tablets) and brewers yeast. And everyone wear citronella oil "perfume". Get cotton web collars for the animals and dab them with conifer oil (pine, yew, etc), citronella oil, or eucalyptus. And dab the oils on lightbulbs before you turn on the light. Other essential oils will probably repel too; if you prefer patchouli or sandalwood, I can't imagine a flea being attracted to them. Plant citrenella plants in pots and keep by all doors if you have a green thumb. I would say eucalyptus plants, too, but I have never seen one grow in S. Louisiana. But you can simmer eucalyptus as a potpouri.
If you can convince yourself to consider mothballs "non-chemical" use them too. Put a couple in the vacum cleaner (and yes, use it often!), but still make sure you empty it in a covered container each time you use it, and then replace with new mothballs. Also scatter mothballs in shed or storage rooms, places where the smell won't bother you.
Flypaper or glue traps tacked up behind nightlights works like the white bowl with soapy water. Don't know if it really helps, but it is gratifying to see the little specks in the morning.
Feed the animals premium food and make sure they are well exercised and not stressed. Swim them in salt water and rinse with clear water spray. I don't believe in stripping the natural oils from a dog's coat with shampoo, but brushing helps remove the dander. Teach them to sit to be "brushed" with the rubber finger-tipped vacum attachment or upholstry brush with the vacm running. (MMajor treats!)
There's a new flea control product that has a pretty innocuous chemical - safe for use on nursing moms and pups, made by Natural Chemistry (www.naturalchemistry.com) that has no residual action, but kills on contact. (Explodes the little suckers!) Smells like athelete's foot medicine. I don't spray it, but use a bowl with a paintbrush or a Q-tip to dab the ones I see.

But the #1 tip to reduce bugs (works for roaches, too) is geckoes. My mom was insecticide allergic and bug-a-phobic. She ordered a couple dozen plain old Mederiterrain geckoes through a pet store for just a few bucks each and let them loose in her house. She hardly ever saw a geckoe or a bug after that. But she found shattered porcelain-like egg shells in what was obviously a communal nest way in the back of a closet year after year. And we heard them "talk" at night. (Very dinosaur-ish, huh?)
Anyway, make sure the house is pesticide free, and in drought like this one, supply a water source that is not a toilet. Do not feed for obvious reasons. And don't fall for some exoctic species of geckoes. The little pale fleshy M. geckoes are native. You can collect them near outside lights that attract bugs at night, often hiding under something. They are really quick, though. Hard as hell to catch.
BTW, a natural predator of the tick is the fire ant.

HTH!
Susan Fraser, owned and trained by
BeBop a Lu SheBop SH, Shamma Lamma Ding Dong MH,
Semper Choo Choo Ch'Boogie, and Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya http://mypeoplepc.com/members/chinchuba/AuH2OK9s /
If he has carpets, he should rip them up and dispose of them. Vacuum well in the cracks and crevices of the floor, and in the furniture, and throw away the vacuum bags.
We moved into this house and found a severe flea infestation. In addition to getting rid of the wall-to-wall, we needed an exterminator to spray the entire house and perimeter around the house. Fleas live outside in the yard , and in warmer climates, like LA, the frost doesn't kill them off. No fleas at all in 16+ years.
Your friend may not be able to get away chemical-free.

Becky High
http://home.comcast.net/~dejablues /
"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers." Tennyson
Well, having lived in Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia.. prior to Frontline... If you haven't lived in the Deep South, you may not quite understand the term "infestation"...
Garlic and brewers yeast don't come close to making a dent in this type of situation, and as humid as LA is, will be pretty useless.
This is a chemical, but not an insecticide as your employee is thinking of (organophosphate). The borax/boric acid powder sold in home improvement/home care sections and stores, in plastic bottles or in cans, can be very helpful. It dehydrates adult and larval fleas. It is sprinkled over carpets and rugs after Major vaccuming (discard bag after taping shut), and worked in with a broom. Include closets. Routine vaccuming after that is fine. Sprinkle it under heavy furniture and under cushions and in crevases of all upholstered furniture and even under the mattresses.

Sprinkle along base boards and cabinet bases and force in with broom in rooms with no carpet; put carpet samples under large furniture, sprinkled with the borax, and treat all throw rugs after laundering. This will last for about a year. If the carpet is steam cleaned before a year is up, re-treat as soon as the carpet and padding are dry (reletive term in LA)
Treat the yard with the diatomaceous earth. If using this in the carpet, retreat after steam cleaning.
It would be best to tear up the carpeting, vaccum well, dispose of bag immediately, and teat the new carpeting as soon as it's laid.

Your employee has admirable goals for the environment, but a single treatment by a professional, or a year of flea control treatment, may permit reducing or eliminating use of "chemicals"... If s/he Never has a pet again while on that property.
Jo Wolf
Martinez, Georgia
Hi, Lia.
I posted the same question on rec.pets.dogs.health, rec.gardens, alt.home.repair in addition to here.
I haven't heard from my guy yet to hear a verdict. I suspect he will resort to something stronger and quicker...fleas down this way can be a real bear to get rid of.
Perry
Hi, Lia. I posted the same question on rec.pets.dogs.health, rec.gardens, alt.home.repair in addition to here. I haven't heard from my ... resort to something stronger and quicker. Fleas down this way can be a real bear to get rid of. Perry

Hah! I knew it. The best of us start off with the idea of avoiding the chemical pesticides. As we become aware of what flea control without them really entails, we throw up our arms and decide to use them just this once. Maybe the expression should be more along the lines of bears can be real fleas to get rid of.
Lia