Fleas: The battle continues

Is there an effective way, with actual test results, to get rid of fleas without using harsh chemicals… besides fire-ants?
We have the ants under control (and I’m happy -no more bites when i’m trying to sleep!) but with no ants, the fleas are thriving and getting in the house and on the cats - ewwwwwwww!

We bombed in the house - worked for about a week. Exterminator said he can spray under the house (we live in the country) but we’d need to be away for awhile - which is difficult since I work graveyard shift. Plus the fact that we really dont have any place for the cats to go since mil and bil’s live across the street and they have them too!

Depends on what you mean by “harsh chemicals.” Ordinary ant and roach spray containing permethrins is effective for killing fleas and eggs on upholstery, carpeting and bedding while either Advantage or Frontline for cats will quickly and effectively treat the animals. Neither requires special handling, although when using the spray for area control, it’s recommended that you remove the animals from the area until the surfaces dry–about a half hour or so. Also wash all bedding (both yours and the animals’) thoroughly as well as any small rugs and upholstery covers. This treatment worked for me; no fleas in the house or on Pepper for over a year. Fleas were gone from the cat within days of treatment and those in the house were dead within minutes

Yeah, I’d second the Advantage/Frontline option. They are really not “harsh”, they use a very small amount, of a very specific chemical, that disrupts the flea’s life cycle. There is no need to mass-spray the area, just treat the animals, that is where the problem really is (even though it may not look that way). The chemicals in Advantage/Frontline are really effective, it can take a while (and several treatments) in cases like your’s, but the fleas will always return to the cats/dogs sooner or later (they are not comfortable on humans and elsewhere, they will always try and get onto the cats/dogs to feed and breed), then they will killed by the chemicals.

My dad (senior research vetinarian) once explain the exact chemical pathway they use (didn’t really understand, and can’t remember it even if i did), and its pretty impressive how targetted they actually are.

I would disagree with this. Flea eggs can remain dormant for up to 6 weeks in cooler weather. This is 2 weeks longer than topical flea treatments are rated to last. Usually, you can get away with not area treating, however, sometimes you get burned and topical treatment alone isn’t enough. This, not only from veterinarian advice, but also from firsthand experience.

The life cycle of the flea is 100 days, so if you don’t treat the cats year-round like they recommend (one application every 30 days) you need to at least do 3 to 4 months of Frontline/Advantage/Revolution. DO use these products that are gotten only from vet’s offices, though. They’re far, far safer for the pets!

Take a shallow pan like a cookie sheet, put soapy water in it. Set it on the floor with a light shining on it in the middle of the room (use a light that doesn’t light the entire room, just illuminates the area of the pan well). At night the fleas are attracted to the light, jump toward it into the pan of soapy water and die. I don’t think I’ve successfully killed ALL of the fleas in a house this way, but it seemed to put a big dent in the population, and coupled with chemical warfare effectively got rid of them.

More importantly, it was great college fun to check out the device every so often and find the little buggers leaping off the bottom of the pan trying to break back through the water.

I also used diatomatious earth to supposedly cut their exoskeletons to shreds so the die a painful death.

And I would walk through the room with white socks on, sit down pick them off put them in soapy water; walk through the room again, sit down, pick them off…lather, rinse, repeat.

I used anything I could think of; and eventually was successful. Bombing the house often, spraying the pet bedding and treating the pets a few times seemed the most effective though.

I get the impression that you don’t realize that it is the cats who are most likely bringing in the fleas. (You say the fleas are getting in the house and on the cats.) I assume the cats are outdoor cats. Treat the cats (Frontline, etc. as mentioned above) once a month. If you find fleas on you or elsewhere, grab them with your thumb and index finger and put them in soapy water. If you don’t seem to be making any headway, try Sigene’s flea trap. Ideally, the cats should be indoor cats – they’re safer that way and much less likely to get fleas.

Not necessarily, though. I have chipmunks under my house, and I’ve been battling fleas coming up through the vents.

Use Advantage/Frontline on the cats for 3 cycles, and never let them back out.

There are also flea traps that work with lights that imitate a warm animal and sticky flypaper stuff. Sigene’s post is the home made version.

Advantage and Frontline are different chemicals, and the fleas in your area may or may not be resistant to either (or both). If your cats are also outside, and depending on where you live (southern states in the US), I would tell you to use Revolution (selamectin) or Advantage Multi (moxidectin), as the compound in them also prevents heartworm disease (and yes, cats can get it). Also, while I’ve heard and been told of resistance to Advantage and Frontline, I have not heard of resistance to Revolution or Advantage Multi. At my school and some clinics I did preceptorships, they used either product for cats more than Frontline/Advantage (those were given to dogs mostly). Maybe vetbridge knows.

OTC flea products are not as effective as the ones obtained through the vet, and they are usually more toxic (particularly to cats).

Pah. Pin them between thumb and forefinger, roll them about until half the flea protrudes beyond your thumbnail, then deploy the other thumb and squash the little sod flat between your thumbnails. Makes a very satisfying little ‘crack’, gives a little warm caveman-glow, and can be done anywhere anytime.

I’ve been struggling with fleas all summer and still don’t seem to be gaining any ground. We have routinely treated both our cats with Frontline for 9 years now and never had a problem. This year has been hell though. When we realised Frontline wasn’t working we switched to Advantage, but that doesn’t seem to have helped either.
I’ve been vacuuming the carpets and upholstery daily, and shampooing the carpet weekly (which is very satisfying as you can see the horrible little blighters as you empty the reservoir), but they are still there.

Anyway, I’ve also adopted the somewhat pointless tactic of surveying my carpet rigorously with a roll of masking tape in hand. Whenever I spot one, I tear a little bit off, pounce on him and fold the tape in half. I can then “pop” him between my fingernails.

I agree. Personally, my own dog gets treated with a product every 3 weeks (contrary to label duration of 4 weeks). I currently rotate Advantage, Frontline, and Promeris. My dog is in a “high risk setting” (she comes to work with me every day). I haven’t seen a flea on her in years.

I would stay away from OTC products, which are regulated by the EPA, not the FDA. The fact that certain products are sold OTC does not mean they are safe, or effective!

Flea traps can be used to monitor the environment. Insect growth regulators can play a role in control. Treating your yard is also an option.

I’m in the same situation as Dave B. - I’ve used Frontline/Advantage for years, and thought it had completely solved the flea problem for me. But this year, those are not working. We have two dogs and two indoor cats. We’ve treated all of them, but they’re still covered by fleas.

I’m wondering - are the fleas becoming resistant to those products?

Or, we bought the Advantage products from PetSmart, not from the vet. Is there a difference?
ETA - is it Pet-Smart, or Pets-Mart?

There are, it seems. Or at least that is how it was taught to me by the dermatologists last year.

Potentially, yes. Bayer (maker of Advantage) wants to restrict their sales to licensed veterinarians. Some of those veterinarians have chosen to sell product to retailers against Bayer’s wishes. Some of the product can be traced to other countries. The concern is that product may be mishandled along the way, or even that counterfeit product may enter the stream.

Cite: EPA report.

It took us close to 2 years before we stopped finding fleas in our house. And we have NO pets whatsoever. Never had any. Somehow they were coming from under our deck and ending up inside the house after we would sit outside. We had to have the whole house treated several times, and then the deck, above & below. Finally we have gone almost 8 months now without finding one flea (we used the trap mentioned above with the light and the soapy water - it was fairly effective). But even today my wife gets hysterical if she just gets a mosquito bite and can’t figure out what it’s from… Fleas are an absolute nightmare.