When people move, they often encounter new experiences. Some are big, others are small; all of them vital in our growth as human beings. When my parents moved from the outer edges of Minnesota into Minneapolis when I was little more than an exuberant blastocyst and a glimmer in my parents’ eyes, my mother (a born and raised “Edina Brat” – and really, only Minnesotans will understand what that means) collided head-to-head with something she had never experienced before up until that point.
Roaches. Cockroaches. The apartment complex where they moved into was apparently infested with them due to at least one neighbour with poor cleaning skills and/or lack of awareness.
My mother had grown up in MN and had never seen a cockroach in her life, until then. She could better tell the misadventures better than I could, but the result is thus: she learned how to deal with roach infestations. She will never enjoy a roach infestation (as if anyone would…) but she is equipped with the knowledge and experience on how to deal with it; more so, she’s passed that knowledge on to her children so we wouldn’t be so unaware.
What does this have to do with Fleas? Well… you see… growing up in MN, with pets that were indoors unless they had other ideas that day, I never had to deal with fleas. Ever.
Until now. I can hear the questions already: “how did you end up with fleas?” Alright, alright, it isn’t me personally, but the place we’re staying at for the time being. To make a long story short: my In-laws (bless them), have cats. Cats that go outside, a lot. These cats get fleas every year. Despite this, I’ve managed to not have to really worry about them because the fleas were generally small and few in number.
Not this year! So I’ve been reading up on all things flea-related. Apparently these little suckers (accurate term for them, given that they are basically wingless mosquitos) thrive in cool, damp spaces.
I’ll cut to the chase: they’ve gotten themselves hunkered down under the bed along the outside wall. How do I know? Because they attack at night and since that is where the baby’s crib is as well, guess where I stand?
My ankles have been devoured, and it isn’t in the fun, kinky, kind of way.
I’m already 200% (not a typo) done with this so it has become my life’s mission this week to commit flea-o-cide.
Sounds fun, right? Okay, so if you want to get in on the action, here’s what we’re doing. You can just visualise me pulling down the chart with all of the X’s and O’s to show the mode of attack. Perfect, let’s carry on.
First things first, fleas like it humid. They like it very humid. So in comes the dehumidifier and crank it up to the max, you want the space as drier than my sense of humour. This will mummify the fleas and their larvae while the eggs themselves will go into stasis, which takes us to the next step: killing those eggs.
Anything fabric goes into the wash, preferably hot and with a cup of vinegar in each load. Why vinegar? It will help dissolve any goo holding those eggs in place. Plus it helps clean your machine, so, yay bonus.
While the washing machine is doing its best impression of a rocket, get out the baking soda from the refrigerator (or cupboard, and if you’re in the UK it’s Bicarbonate of Soda) and work it into the carpet, furniture and any gaps in your flooring. If you’re lacking in the baking soda department, table salt will also work. Both the Bicarbonate of Soda and salt have properties that will help dry out and turn these critters and their eggs into jerky.
For added fun, set out a wide lipped, low, basin of soap-water somewhere where there is light. This will lure any that are feeling, ahem, parched into a watery deathtrap. Oh irony. Bonus: this will also give you an idea of how bad the infestation is. At the time of writing this, my body count is 12.
Wait a couple of days and then vacuum like you want to burn out your vacuum and get a new one. Note my straight face: I am not joking. Assuming you don’t kill your vac in this process, take out the bag and double bag it in plastic before tossing it out.
When the things that were being washed in the machine are dry, double bag them as well until this is all over – you do not want to risk a re-infestation.
So how effective is all this? Pretty good, assuming you keep up the vacuuming and keep the area low-humidity as much as possible. Now, I know you’re probably thinking about the cats – what can one do about them? Well, flea dipping (i.e. bathing them) is fairly effective, but one ought to do it fairly regularly if the pets in question still spend significant amounts of time outdoors.