Thank you IGCWA member Celine, Rocket, Bowie and their feline friends for the below information and being the test dummies!
After surviving for 15 years without flea problems even with living in two country towns, we battled fleas twice in the past two years.
The first time was a real shock to us when I first spotted those pesky two dimensional (2-D) blood sucking parasites on Rocket’s pink belly. My husband proceeded to tell me that I was being paranoid and it was JUST an insect!
Later that night when all the shops were shut, we found more 2-D ‘insects’ on the cats (Carrie, 18 and Cabbage, 16) and Rocket and Bowie... So it began! We washed and washed, vacuumed and vacuumed, bathed and bathed, combed and combed all the animals. By the time we were done, it was nearly 2am in the morning.
The next morning, we discovered more fleas in our front garden and backyard with all our animals looking unimpressed while sunning themselves on the prime breeding spots for fleas! Sandy soil in the front garden and mulch in the backyard. Fleas also love overgrown lawn, garden stones as they provide dark and moist conditions for them to thrive. They can dive and hide in the dark spots away from the sun and jump on warm hosts who are oblivious to being sucked at like a kid with a juice box.
So we consulted Google (as you do!) on fleas lifecycle, likes and dislikes, breeding grounds...etc and natural deterrents for them.
We found -
Borax: a natural flea deterrent, one of its uses is as a laundry softener. It can be found in the laundry aisle of Coles, Woolies or Bunnings.
We use it to wash all the bedding, blankets and clothes for humans and fur kids.
Diatomaceous earth: another natural flea deterrent to be used in the garden to cover up breeding grounds. Diatomaceous Earth (often referred to as "DE") is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. It works by compromising fleas’ waxy coating so that their innards turn into teeny tiny bug jerky. (Source: https://richsoil.com/diatomaceous-earth.jsp) First we flooded the breeding grounds at night as the fleas were more likely to be on the surface. The next day when the breeding grounds were dry, we spread diatomaceous earth to cover the area. I only had to do this once. There’s a place in Midvale that sells it - http://www.greenlifesoil.com.au/minerals/diatomaceous-earth-15kg
Steam mopping: As flea eggs can stay dormant for years and then hatch under the right environment, the carpets and floor rugs could have fleas eggs waiting for the right moment to hatch. We found steam mopping works a treat as the heat kills the eggs.
Flea bombs: After steam mopping, we also flea bombed the entire house and man, we did find a number of dead fleas in places. We also changed all our bedding into light colour to allow better detection. But of course, you know when a flea bit you, cos it itches like hell and then the bite will turn hard and weepy :’(
Flea baths: We just used the ones you can buy at Woolies.
Flea spray: We used Oakwood Premises Flea Spray, also found that it didn’t stain the outdoor setting! We use it on the boys’ bedding, dog house and carpet as required.
Bug off Spray: Coco and Rufus Bug off Spray on the boys, is a fave here too, smells nice and repels fleas and flies.
Sentinel Worming and Flea chews: self explanatory.
Flea collars: yes I know it’s getting a bit overkill but hey, you wanna make sure they are gone! We only used the flea collars for a month or so.
You might have noticed that I kept calling them 2-D because it’s REALLY hard to catch them as they jump and slip through your fingertips. If you have nails, use them to kill fleas or flush them down the toilet. After the flea bath, it is advisable to trap your iggies in the bathroom for 10 or so minutes so you can kill the fleas jumping off them.
I know we went through a lot of steps to eradicate fleas but if you don’t they can hide in that blanket you didn’t wash and then you have the whole life to deal with it. Again.
The first time we did everything and then second time it wasn’t as serious so I think the boys picked the fleas up during their walks. We remain flea-free with Advantage for the cat and Sentinel for the dogs.