Eliminating Fleas on the premises

If you are using a monthly flea-control product such as Program, Sentinel, Advantage, Advantix, or Frontline, the fleas in the environment should eventually be eliminated as they fail to reproduce. For this to be effective, all pets must be treated with the flea-control product.

To immediately reduce fleas in the house or for severe infestations, thoroughly clean the entire house and then apply insecticides in the form of car- pet shampoos and house sprays. On carpeted floors, electrostatically charged sodium polyborate powder (Rx for Fleas is the brand name) is most effective and lasts up to a year.

In households with cats and/or young children, the safest insecticides are the pyrethrins (this includes pyrethroids and permethrin), and the insect growth regulators methoprene and fenoxycarb. Insect growth regulators prevent eggs and larvae from developing into adult fleas. Methoprene must come into contact with the flea egg within 12 hours after it is laid to be completely effective, while fenoxycarb can contact the egg any time during its development to be effective.

Insecticides must be applied monthly to all floor surfaces. If pyrethrins are used alone, weekly spraying for the first three weeks is necessary.

Foggers generally contain permethrin or synergized natural pyrethrins (pyrethroids). Some contain insect growth regulators. One disadvantage of foggers is that the mist settles on top of carpets and may not settle into the cracks in upholstery and beneath furniture. Flea larvae and pupae, however, burrow deep into the nap and also seek out cracks and crevices. To offset this disadvantage, shampoo carpets and spray beneath furniture before activating the fogger.

Do not use foggers in rooms where toddlers and young children live or play. Although labels on these products say that rooms should be vacated for one to three hours, studies show that high residue levels can remain for a week or longer. Especially dangerous are exposed plastic toys and stuffed animals, which seem to attract the pesticide.

Mechanical cleaning and insecticide applications must be repeated at three-week intervals. It may take nine weeks to eliminate all visible fleas. With a heavy infestation, it may be advisable to enlist the services of a professional exterminator.

Outdoor control involves treating the yard, kennel, pens, runs, and favorite resting spots. For more information, see Disinfecting the Premises.