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My neighbor's dog gifted my apartment with fleas. Three days ago, I swept (hardwood floors) then sprinkled Diatomaceous Earth everywhere. They are still here in full force, nipping at my ankles. Grrr. My neighbor suggests I try boric acid, but is it going to work any better/quicker than DE? (I looked in the archives, btw, but didn't see anything about how long it takes DE to work. I only saw that it was recommended (or not). Also, I do not have any pets myself.)

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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
blindaurora
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
Fleas are persistant little bastards. The only thing that works with speed is poison, and even with that you have to spray again and again as the eggs hatch. DE, Baking soda, etc. all take a while. They do work, but it can take a while and multiple applications of the stuff. I have never used boric acid, but at this stage, I say it can't hurt!

Is the flea beast still in residence? If so, you may have critters coming through the walls.

PS- Make sure you also treat any rugs you may have and soft surfaces like couches, curtains, and matresses(I'd go for something not DE on the matress because of respiratory health concerns).

In the mean time: GOOD LUCK and KNEE SOCKS to you and yours!
onfruitstreet
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
Persistent little bastards, indeed! Thanks for the tips. I can't believe I didn't think of wearing socks. Duh. My ankles are completely eaten.

The flea beast is not allowed in my apartment, but she hangs out right outside my window while the neighbor comes in. (They reside in a different building in the complex.) Wouldn't the neighbor also be carrying them, even though he swears he's not been bitten? I keep telling him to talk to me from the hallway (or by phone) but he just rolls his eyes at me and comes in.

Even though I don't think they've made it into my bed (yet), I swear I feel things crawling on me even when they're not. Truly miserable experience. It's my first in 46 years of existence, and I hope it's my last!
blindaurora
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
Ewww, that psycological creepy crawly feeling is the worst! I'm totally amazed at the persistence of the fleas without carpet.

Your neighbor is being very inconsiderate. Tell him you are not amused!
wishuponakate
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)
I've never used DE, but I did have a flea problem when I brought in a stray cat once. I'd say vacuum plush surfaces (carpets/furniture/mattresses) a few times a day. It's not really natural, but I threw a few moth balls in the vacuum dirt chamber/bag, and that kills any live fleas or eggs. There may be a more natural alternative to moth balls out there. Always empty your vacuum OUTSIDE when you are done. I think this was the single-most important thing I did-- vacuuming a lot!
onfruitstreet
Aug. 12th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
I have had only hardwood floors and tile for so many years that I finally gave my vacuum to my daughter who needed it. She took off to Arizona (I'm in Massachusetts) with it. Gah! I'll have to see if I can't borrow one from someone. Thanks.
ladysilverlark
Aug. 12th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC)
Make sure you are washing all your close in HOT water. If some thing won't survive hot water ad a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. You could put your mattress and box spring in one of those plastic mattress bags that zipper shut. Look for ones they recommend against dust mights. I have seen them made in fabric but those are really fricking expensive and hard to find.
blindaurora
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
Seconded on washing everything! Hot water! Bleach on everything that can handle it! Vinegar! Baking soda! Ah! :-)
kjames
Aug. 12th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
we had very good luck with DE when nothing else worked. we left it everywhere (and i would think putting right outside your apartment door might help, too) for a weekend then vacuumed it. since you don't have a vacuum, i would ask to borrow a friends.

good luck, i know how awful it can be!
onfruitstreet
Aug. 12th, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
I thought it was supposed to be harmful to pets. I need to go look that up. I have a neighbor across the hall with a very small dog and a cat. I'm already tracking the DE dust out into the hallway. I keep trying to sweep it up, as I don't want to harm her animals, but there still seems to be a bit of residue left. I really don't want to have to resort to mopping the hallways. I'll look into it more. Thanks.
theverticalbar
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
DE is actually safe enough to put directly on the pet. you might advise your friend to do that. just be sure to keep the dust to a minimum when applying it...
theverticalbar
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
oh! and just to be sure, make sure you are using "food grade" DE and not the stuff for swimming pools
kjames
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
nope! it's safe. we found it at a local health food store. it's pretty messy though, just be aware of that. :)
shortsweetcynic
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
pool grade, yes. food grade, no - in fact, read a bit and you'll see some people actually swear by mixing it with water and drinking it. *shrug*

don't breathe it, but otherwise, it's fine.

OP: in my experience, it took a few days and consistent vacuuming and reapplication. it's summer, so the problem is nuts no matter what i do, but in wintertime it does help.
(Deleted comment)
blindaurora
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
A thought: put the DE in cupboards which house water pipes / the water heater as well as in the sinks and tub.

Also, you might want to use a dust mask when spreading. you can find them at your local hardward store. DE is really harsh for skin and lungs.
ancientsong
Aug. 12th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
To avoid getting eaten in the meantime, eat more garlic. They really don't like it and likely won't bite you as much.

That's actually one of the ways I control fleas on my kitties. I home make their food and garlic powder goes into every batch.

Good luck.
ancientsong
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the warning. However, I feed garlic to my cats (I don't have a dog) and it says nothing there about it being toxic to them. And in fact, it says that dogs would have to eat large amounts for it to affect them.

Onions, OTOH, are definitely not good to feed them and I don't.
roadriverrail
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
I assure you, it's at least as equally toxic to cats and a basic web search will pull that up. Most casual sources say it takes "large amounts" but "large amounts" to a pet may not be that much.

Anecdotally, I've never seen a case of anemia attributed to garlic consumption come into my family's practice, so I guess it's probably ok. I wouldn't take my chances, personally, but that's me.
ancientsong
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks again and I will totally it under advisement. I've had pets for decades. I've homemade their food for just about as long and there's never been an issue with any of them WRT garlic consumption and anemia/toxicity. It's not like I feed them a ton or anything, but I sprinkle a bit of garlic powder in the mix. And it and the nutritional yeast seem to keep the fleas under excellent control.

And, when they get outside, they chow down on the garlic chives and enjoy the heck out of them as well. Maybe they're naturally predisposed to eat it and maybe they've just developed a taste for it. I don't know. :)
lemniskate
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
I thought it was borax you were supposed to use, not boric acid?
lemniskate
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
sorry, I should google before I comment, it looks like both are good.
roadriverrail
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
I can't even imagine DE having an effect, to be honest, but let's just call that my own lack of imagination. I did some web research on DE and its purported mechanism, and basically, it appears to kill only adult fleas and the mechanism described would appear to be VERY slow.

But, there's something important to bring to this discussion-- if it works as my web searches describe, DE attacks only one part of the flea life cycle. It kills adults. It does not kill flea larvae or eggs. Eggs can incubate for up to 90 days, IIRC, so unless you start using a substance that attacks eggs, you're going to continue to see a flea problem for at least a few weeks. If you persistently attack adults, you can make their ranks dwindle, but even a few adults can lay many eggs and keep the problem persistent.

You need something that's going to address all the aspects of the flea life cycle. I have heard anecdotes that Borax or boric acid in the carpets will dry out eggs, but I've seen no proof. Lots of vacuuming will help, but you have to dispose of the bag afterwards.

You're in a war now. If you don't want to use the nukes (pesticides), prepare for battling in the trenches.
kjames
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
DE was the ONLY thing that worked for us. we moved into a house that had been empty for a year and STILL had fleas (we didn't have any animals at the time) -not sure how that was managed. but the house had berber carpeting and those suckers liked living there. we tried pesticides, esp bombing the house several times and it never made a dent. our friend told us about DE and it totally worked. i think that the way it ends up addressing the life cycle is that as soon as they hatch, the DE that is left over (even after vacuuming, it's so powdery it's hard to vacuum up) ends up killing the newly hatched. it worked immediately for us, and that could be because we didn't have pet around that was re-infesting the area either.
jelin05
Aug. 12th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
Same with us. We tried everything... Frontline and the Advantage for the kitties along with daily flea combing, DE, salt, bombs, foggers, vacuuming multiple times daily, and nothing even made a dent. We'd still find the really big guys on us and the cats daily. It turns out that since we have old school wood panneling (sp?) for walls and these old, gorgeous curio cabinets built into the walls (also made of wood) they were getting into the cracks in those and weren't affected by our methods of removal. So far we've had an exterminator come in twice and the kitties are getting Capstar ever other day and that's the only thing that's helping. Good luck!!! Fleas are a nightmare!
eilithyia
Aug. 12th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
Diatomaceous Earth
can cause respiratory problems in pets AND people! I can't believe everyone here is using it so liberally and carefree-especially recommending vacuuming it and sprinkling it around.

I would never use it in that manner, nor would I recommend sprinkling asbestos around.

People are way too careless with DE.
sodabottle
Oct. 27th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
Garlic! I read somewhere that eating a lot of garlic keeps fleas from biting you as much. And to be fair, I have two cats with fleas and yet I don't seem to have been bitten yet. And I'm usually pretty sensitive to bug bites of all types, so it's not just bites with no reaction--they don't seem to find me tasty. (I use garlic on almost every piece of meat I cook, ever, so...)
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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