Fleas may not be quite as common a household pest as ants or spiders, but if you have pets, they can be a far worse problem. Before you call an exterminator service, you should have an idea what you’re dealing with.
The unique problem with fleas is that they live on pets (or people) but they can temporarily be found in carpets or upholstery. That means you have to target living animals as well as your surroundings, or the fleas just move around to avoid the pesticide.
The best way to deal with fleas is to keep them out of your house in the first place. Unlike other insects that creep in on their own, fleas will always be carried in on an animal, or your own clothing if you have contact with animals outside. Any indoor-outdoor pets should be treated regularly, not just when you think there is a problem. Check them for fleas, especially in the warmer months, so you can take care of the problem before it gets all over the house.
There are a number of over-the-counter flea collars and other drop treatments that can be helpful but aren’t always the safest for your pets. Stick with vet-approved products if you can.
Now we’re talking about killing the fleas once they have gotten into the house, rather than prevention. Get good-quality medication (usually drops that are placed on the back of the neck), and be patient about combing through fur with a fine flea or lice comb to remove as many fleas as you can. As you comb them out, immediately crush them or drop them into a bowl of water. Living fleas will jump quickly from the comb and end up loose in the room.
For a more natural approach, you can try dusting their fur with diatomaceaous earth. The fine particles in the powder can kill insects but are harmless for animals and people. This is a good option for a small outbreak but if you have a large population of fleas, you should probably bite the bullet and go for a pesticide solution.
While you are waiting for the treatments to work (it can take days or longer, since there may be multiple applications), isolate the animals so they are not potentially spreading fleas or eggs all over the house.
Carpet and Furniture Treatment
This is where it can get tricky. Fleas and eggs in the carpets or on the furniture are harder to get rid of. Anything removable should be washed in very hot water and dried on high as well to kill eggs or live fleas. That includes clothing, pillows, bed linen and any removable furniture coverings.
Carpets can be treated with pesticides, either using retail products or by having a professional come in. Before applying anything, give everything a thorough vacuuming and dispose of the bag or canister in a sealing plastic bag.
The key to successful flea treatment is being very thorough with both animals and surroundings, and keeping up these tactics for a few weeks to really ensure that the pests are gone