If you've ever dealt with pesky critters—be it ants, rodents or any other kind of creepy crawlers—you know it's a pain. And fleas are just as maddening to getting rid of as other pests. But luckily, we've got all the info you need to get your household from scratchy to serene in (almost) no time at all.
What causes fleas?
Adult female fleas are capable of laying as many as 50 eggs per day (yes, per day!), and live up to 100 days in out-of-the-way places that skew the odds of survival in fleas’ favor. The most common source of fleas is animals. Keep an eye out on your own pets but also watch out for neighborhood dogs, strays, and feral animals who come by for a yard visit.
Fleas love warm, humid, climates that are out of direct sunlight and relatively undisturbed. Therefore, it’s crucial to pay special attention to shaded areas of the yard or house, crawl spaces, or dog houses and other animal enclosures—all the areas where fleas are at their happiest and most likely to reproduce.
How to spot fleas
If you’ve spotted one or two fleas, chances are there are more. (Statistics say that for every flea you lay eyes on, there could be 99 others lurking in the shadows. Yikes!) Look closely at pet bedding, carpets, furniture bases, and any dark, hidden low-traffic areas that may be often overlooked.
Keep your eyes peeled for small dark spots known as “flea dirt,” a mixture of blood and feces (yuck!) that is often more visible than the fleas themselves. Flea larvae actually use this “dirt” as a food source, so anything you spot should definitely cause concern. This likely sounds alarming, but in most cases, a thorough deep clean routine can eradicate the problem in anywhere from 10 days to one month.
How do I get rid of fleas on my cat or dog?
Clean your pets. Take a fine-tooth comb and carefully inspect your pets’ coat, looking closely for fleas in all of their forms: eggs, larvae, and adults. Have a bowl of hot soapy water on hand to dispose of any fleas you may find, and be sure to enlist your vet’s help to determine if your pet’s flea medication is appropriate and, of course, effective.
How do I get rid of fleas in my home?
To maximize the results of a deep clean, it’s imperative to remove (and wash) all bedding and pet bedding. Take pets out of the house, and move all furniture so that hidden areas are fully exposed. Vacuum thoroughly (experts recommend a beater bar style) and throw away the vacuum bag (or clean the waste container) when you’re finished. Vacuuming does more than clean the area and remove flea dirt—the suction forces larvae to emerge from their insecticide-resistant cocoons prematurely, which makes your job easier when it’s time to bring in treatment.
Repeat the vacuum deep-clean procedure every other day for 10 days to a month, depending on the severity of your flea problem and the frequency at which you spot fleas as you clean. Wash pet bedding every week for at least a month to ensure the pesky bugs don’t return.
Keep in mind that if the problem is serious, or if you have a heavily carpeted house, steam cleaning may be necessary after vacuuming.
How to spot fleas in your yard
All it takes to assess your outdoor flea population is a pair of tall white socks. Pull on a pair and take a stroll around the yard, keeping your pace slow to allow the bugs a chance to attach. At the end of the walk, check to see if you have any fleas, "flea dirt," or eggs stuck to your socks. Just a few? No worries there. Are your socks almost covered? Time to call the lawn experts.
Try a spray product
These cleaning products are an easy way to get your flea problem under control.
Bring in the experts
If your flea problem persists after 10 to 30 days of deep cleaning and close monitoring, it's time to call in an exterminator. They'll be able to take things to the next level with more powerful chemicals that will hopefully get rid of the pests for good.
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