Dimma, pre-outbreak.It's a summer that will be talked about for years to come. Our relatives will talk. Our friends will talk. Their children will talk. The entire eastern seaboard, all talking. And scratching.
Because we gave them all fleas.
Cat by cat, dog by dog, the plague spread. Scientists (um, me) were able to trace its origins back to the tall crabgrass in my mom’s backyard, where their cat, Dimma, liked to recline, sometimes for hours at a time, soaking in the sun ... and the fleas.
These weren’t just any fleas. These were super-fleas. They were wearing gas masks, Iron Man armor, jet packs, and they’d tote flasks of green goo to mutate into Teenage Mutant Ninja Fleas.
We treated Dimma with Hartz flea drops (our mistake for not going straight to something stronger, but those drops had always worked in the past). We brushed her with a flea comb. Then a flea dip. Then more drops.
She continued to scratch.
So here's what we did ...
We treated the room where she spent most of her time: Raid carpet spray and flea bombs from my dad, a little more asthma-friendly sprays and treatments from me. And, one of those flea traps with the light and the sticky pad. When after a week, there were only a few fleas in the trap, we thought we were good. Company came, and they stayed in the guest room, which also happened to be the cat suite.
Company left ... and I got an email telling me that they took fleas home with them. I checked through my luggage, and I bet you’ll never guess what jumped right out, brazen as can be?
So we decided to kill them all. I love the smell of flea bomb in the morning.
Here’s the arsenal we employed:
Bug-B-Gone for Lawns -- We knew where the fleas came from, so we attacked the source of the initial outbreak. Not only did we mow and weed whack everything super short, we sprinkled the bug killer liberally all around the house. (And Dimma was denied her morning outdoor time.)
Deep Reach flea bombs -- Two in every room except the kitchen. Yes, two. You have to set them off and let them “soak” for a few hours, and then air out the rooms, so it’s best to do it when you can be out of the house for a while -- and don’t forget to take your pets with you, or put them somewhere out of reach of the fumes.
Carpet spray -- Raid that makes a spray especially for killing fleas in carpets. Because bombs aren’t very effective at getting under beds, tables, and so on, the carpet spray was the only way to make sure we got every inch of the room.
Upholstery flea spray -- Hartz makes a spray to be used specifically on upholstery. So even though we flea bombed, I went back to the furniture and sprayed the backs of pillows, under cushions -- anywhere that a bomb might not reach and a flea might be able to hide.
Borax -- Plain old, laundry-aisle Borax is one of the best flea killers out there. It’s a desiccant, so it dries up everything -- adults, larvae, eggs. I spread this over all the carpeted areas that I could reach and used a broom to push it into the pile. A few days later, I vacuumed everything up, cackling at every dead little flea body.
Flea traps -- When I saw the package come in the mail, I was completely skeptical; it’s basically double-stick tape and a light bulb. But these things seriously work. It became kind of a perverse fun to check the trap every day and see how many jumped in overnight.
Frontline -- There is a new strain of fleas out there that are resistant to Frontline, but the very first dose seemed to work on Dimma. She was still itchy for a few days, but finally her skin started healing and she wasn’t over-grooming anymore. Frontline will be our new best friend for a while.
Vacuuming -- With or without Borax, we vacuumed every day, sucking up as many of those buggers as we could. The important thing there is that you have to immediately seal your vacuum bag (or dump and seal if you have a bag-less) and then throw the stuff out. If you don’t, the fleas will crawl right back out of the bag and head back to their comfy homes.
Laundry, laundry, laundry -- All the bedding, mattress pads, slipcovers, pillows, towels -- anything that I could put in the washing machine, I did. I even emptied both linen closets and washed things that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. Hot water, and I’m sure way more soap than was necessary -- and everything got dried on high heat unless it was a valuable. The dryer became my version of the blowtorch.
After allllll that, we seem to have conquered the initial plague. Phase II goes into effect next week as I put together a flea repellent and non-toxic killer kit for my folks. I’ll post all my recipes and instructions here, so keep an eye out -- and be sure to leave a comment letting me know what you think is the best way to get rid of those little a-holes.