Our "lovely" former neighbors who lived behind us had WAY to many dogs who sat in the yard all day..... a yard that was rarely mowed. What a perfect place for fleas. After they moved and the house went back to the bank, it was still rarely mowed. And so the fleas stayed. It was horrible. I was hoping after the harsh winter the flea population would be knocked on their tiny rears, and while their numbers seem to be dropping..... they are still around. So how do you fight tiny little fleas without using harsh chemicals?
I have one word for you..... okay it is two words..... diatomaceous earth!!! If you garden or own chickens, this stuff is common knowledge to you. If you have never heard of it before, diatomaceous earth or DE is a naturally occurring soft sedimentary rock that is crushed to a powder and is great at getting buggies. It basically absorbs the lipids, which are fats, waxes, etc, from the insects, thus causing them to become dehydrated and die. You bite my dog, I will dehydrate your buggy little butt!!!
So how do you use DE? There are three ways to use it for flea control.....
- The first is to treat your lawn with it. DE only works when it is dry, so you will want to check your weather forecast before sprinkling on the lawn. I do not use it in this way. While DE is great in a chicken dust bath or to control garden slugs, I like most bugs. Some of them are very beneficial and I don't want to harm them. Targeted use is one thing..... total annihilated of all insects in my yard is not an option I care to use. But if they bring their biting butts in my house, it's on.
- The next option is in the house. You can sprinkle DE on your carpets and furniture. The DE will need to sit for a while in order to work. Remember, it needs time to remove the lipids from the fleas. And sprinkle it sparingly, because when you go to vacuum it up later, it will clog your vacuum. When I did our whole two story house, I had to clean the filters and empty the canister numerous times. But it was so worth it in my eyes. Make sure you hit those favorite flea hangouts, like dog beds.
- The third option is to directly apply the DE to your pet. It was much easier to do our dog then our cats. I think cats are just mistrusting in general and have to give you a hard time, even if they know it is for their own good! Start at the base of the tail of your animal (fleas love that spot) and work forward. Fleas also like the armpit areas too, but make sure you dust the whole dog. I simple grab a handfull and rub it in. You want to get it down to the skin as that is where the fleas are running. You will want to remove the excess DE by either brushing the fur or as I did, took her outside and let her shake.
DE is not an instant cure all for fleas. This is a process that takes a little time but is so much better, at least to me, then the chemical alternatives. It broke my heart to see the cats salivating and acting odd due to something I did to them in an attempt to help them. I apply DE to the animals about once a month. Other folks may recommend applying it more often, but there are a few things to keep in mind when applying DE directly to an animal.....
- DE is a fine powder and you do not want to inhale it, especially if you have asthma. Nor do your critters want a ton of it going in their lungs. If you have asthma, wear a dust mask when applying DE.
- DE works by drying out the fleas and will also dry out your dogs skin. Leave the DE on a few days and then wash it off with a moisturizing soap like oatmeal.
- Make sure you treat your pets favorite hang out to really get at the flea problem. If after you wash the dog it goes and lays in a flea infested bed, well, yeah, what was the point.
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**