Fleas are the bane of my life. I’m suffering from sleep deprivation, paranoia and have to fight an overwhelming urge to tear at my skin, remember what Edward Scissorhands did to that bush? I’m currently sporting around 40 bites and they go through waves of intense itchiness, usually in the dead of night. Flea bites torture and torment me relentlessly. If you have to entertain fleas on a regular basis you will understand what it means to want to spoon out your own flesh with kitchen cutlery. Because of my circumstances I know I will never be able to exterminate all my f*&%ing enemies for good, I can only hope be able to manage the flea infestation.
My situation is unique in that I don’t have any pets or carpets. So all the advice about cleaning their bedding and dosing the animals monthly doesn’t apply. I am trying to defend myself against a two-pronged attack. There are some wild cats on the street and they use my garden (which I don’t use any more) to dump colonies of fleas. The other source of fleas, the one that gives me nightmares, is the ten sheep living on my road. They belong to my partner’s father and we used to eat lunch in their house every day. You know the drill – they jump unto him, he brings them home and then we all carry them back to our house for a feast of my blood .
Fog them and spray them into oblivion!
All You Can Eat
Spray Toxic Chemicals Into Their Respiratory Systems!
So how to I manage my flea infestation? We regularly spray the sheep house with bug poison using a knapsack pest control sprayer and in our house we use an aerosol insecticide. Remember to check the ingredients; your weapon of choice should contain insect growth regulator (IGR) because this will kill some of the stages of the flea life cycle (the pupa stage is the hardest to put manners on).
Both options do work, but only for a limited period of time. Either we aren’t successful killing all the fleas because the sheep house is so big, or because they bring back new fleas from the field where they graze during the day. The problem I have with the house spray is that it smells really badly and we have to leave home for hours to do it. And I am not too keen on using harsh chemicals in my house too often. Because the fleas come from so many different sources the reprieve from the attack never lasts beyond two weeks. It’s more usual for me to be bitten every two to three days. So that is why this hub is more about managing a flea infestation rather than promising to help you remove all fleas for good.
Sweep the beds
Electrocute Them! To Their Deaths!
At home I use an electrified racket for killing flies. It’s quite good. When I have the sensation of a visitor in my trousers, I go to the bathroom, stand on a white mat, remove the pants, turn them inside out and use the racket as a wand over the material. I’m not a sick person who enjoys inflicting pain or death, but I have to admit, I have a great sense of victory when they jump through the racket to meet their maker.
I have caught numerous fleas this way, but it’s not always successful. They jump so fast, it’s hard to know where they go sometimes. And watch out, the racket gives a powerful electric shock. It will also zap when a bit of fluff gets stuck in it.
How Long Does Evil Live?
A flea’s life consists of 4 stages:
Females need a meal to reproduce. They can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime. The eggs hatch after about 12 days and larvae emerge.
After crawling off to some darkened corner of the room and hiding out for a week or two (fitting behaviour for such a disgusting parasite), the larvae begin to camouflage themselves with bits of dirt and skin cells. They live off their parents’ faeces at this stage.
Later they spin a cocoon around themselves and if they feel vibrations of a passing dinner date or body heat, they will hatch in a week. They can remain in cocoon land for up to a year if food is scarce.
How To Manage a Flea Infestation
Suck Up All Those Babies!
Wash all your bed sheets and clothes. They won’t survive the cycle as long as you use washing powder. Vacuum as much as possible and suck up all those eggs. It’s a pain in gluteus maximus, but always remember that you are preventing new generations from breeding on you and your family. Try to get in to the dark corners and the cracks, they are lurking there and biding their time. Suck them up! I usually spray the vacuum after and tie a bag on the end to capture any strays.
Glue Them or Drown Them!
Recently I got a Victor’s Ultimate Fly Trap. This contraption contains a light and a circle of sticky adhesive; it is non-toxic too. The fleas are lured by the light and approach the container. In they hop, unable to escape the cemetery of glue. I have tried this and it does actually work.
However, if you don’t have enough money to buy this, you could always make your own. Simply, get a basin or a tray that is low to the ground, add water and washing-up liquid (this changes the viscosity of the water) and stick a torch over it so that it shines unto the basin of death. The fleas will hop in and drown.
Look What These Teeny Tiny Parasites Can Do
Such small little buggers can do so much harm. They are responsible for:
Infection – The skin reacts to the saliva from the fleas’ suckers. You scratch yourself to get rid of the insane itch and if there is dirt in your fingernails you can become infected. Fleas defecate while they are eating, real classy eh? And if you scratch the miniature turds into the bite you could get Murine Typhus, hurray! The symptoms include nausea, fever, rash, back and abdominal pains.
Tapeworms – Flea larvae, my skin crawls when I imagine them, eat tapeworm eggs. The tapeworm eggs hatch and are overjoyed to find themselves in the guts of a host where they continue to grow. If an animal swallows this particular flea, it will get the tapeworm too. Imagine your kids kissing their pet Fluffy the cat and accidentally swallowing a tiny flea egg. Bam! Now your kid has a tapeworm.
Our old friend, The Bubonic Plague – Fleas, rodent fleas in particular, carry bacteria which cause the bubonic plague. If they bite a human they contaminate them with the bacteria. There have been three major pandemics so far: Justinian’s Plague claimed around 100 million lives, The Black Death around 50 million and The Third Pandemic killed 12 million people. Who would have thought fleas experimenting with other foods could have such devastating consequences?
If I Didn’t Hate Them So Much, I Would Admire Them
If you’ve been bitten recently, read This article to get some immediate relief for your bites. Most of the remedies can be found around your house.
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