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How to Keep Fleas and Ticks Out of Your Home

4. Treat and Prevent Infestations.

Thanks to effective flea and tick control products you can use on your pets, infestations in your home are much less common today.

If fleas do invade, take steps to rid them from your home and keep them away. First, vacuum your carpets thoroughly. After vacuuming, dispose of the bag immediately because eggs and larvae will continue to develop in the bag. Next, shampoo or steam clean the carpet to remove additional fleas and larvae. If you choose to use an insecticide in your home, cleaning the carpets first allows the product to go deeper into the carpet.

To prevent infestations from getting a foothold, Mike Merchant, PhD, a professor and extension urban entomologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, recommends using diatomaceous earth (DE).

This fine, talc-like powder comes from ancient marine plankton and dries out fleas at all stages. Use only food-grade DE, which is available at some hardware or seed stores, and online. It’s considered nontoxic and safe for pets and children. But when spreading it, take care not to inhale it because it could damage your lungs if you breathed in too much.

Merchant recommends sprinkling the dust under furniture cushions, along baseboards, in pet beds, and brushing it into the cracks in hardwood floors.

Another alternative is an insect growth regulator, or IGR. These safe products make adult fleas sterile, kill larvae, and cause eggs not to hatch. It is available as a pill from your veterinarian. There also are IGR sprays, dips, spot-on products, and collars with methoprene or pyriproxyfen. Some can last 6 months or more, helping prevent infestations but how long it lasts depends on the form you choose. Ask your vet which is best for you.

 

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Reviewed on May 16, 2013

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