Umm... A flea is a frightening thing if you are almost 64 inches tall!
Here are some frightening facts about fleas:
- a flea can go through its entire life cycle in two weeks under optimum conditions
- the average flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day and up to 600 in its lifetime.
- a flea can live without eating a blood meal for up to a year.
- a flea egg can lay dormant for up to two years
- your pet does not need to be an outdoor pet for it to attract fleas
- you are screwed if you get fleas
Why the post about fleas? Well, if it hasn't hit you in the face yet, we have them. Again. Lucky us. We first discovered these vile things before we moved into our house while we were painting J's bedroom. The previous owners had a dog who apparently had a problem that they never took the time to eliminate. We immediately called an exterminator to take care of the problem. We purchased the 1 year contract instead of the 6 month contract because we had never dealt with this type of problem before. Thank goodness we did because the 6 month contract would have ended last month. It really sucked vacuuming everyday for a month, but it wasn't that bad because the house was empty since we hadn't moved in yet.
This time is a different story. The fleas are back. I'm not sure if they ever left, but we've had the optimal flea hatching weather in the past week and that's when we noticed our little intruders. B and I also missed a flea treatment last month because we figured that since we seemed to be in the clear and our cats don't go outside, we should be fine. We won't make that mistake again.
I want you to take a moment to imagine your living space with all of its clutter and furniture. Add toys if you have a child. Now I want you to imagine that you have fleas and that you need to prepare for someone to come and spray your house (eco-friendly people in the audience-- your only viable option is to try Borax or salt and sprinkle it all over your carpets, floors, windowsills, etc. and wait for 24 hours before vacuuming it up....repeat for up to two weeks if necessary.... will that work for you while you are still living there with pets and children?)* You need to vacuum everything, mop, sweep, and put away all of your kids toys (ALL of them). Chances are your yard is infested too (which is how the fleas got into your house and onto your animal in the first place) so you need to mow, rake, put away all outside toys. And that's not even the fun part.
Are you still imagining that house of yours? Now let's say your house has been treated and you can finally bring yourself and pets (yeah, they have to be out for at least 4 hours) back into your home. Everything should be fine, right? Wrong. You can see flea activity for up to two weeks in which they can start biting you because your animals are treated and the fleas are pissed off because they have lost their furry nesting ground. In the meantime, you need to vacuum as much as possible. Vacuuming causes vibrations in the carpets and floors, which will encourage those eggs to hatch, eat the spray that has been put down, and die. So you need to vacuum everyday to get the maximum results. Carpets, hard floors, baseboards, windowsills, upholstery, curtains. It takes me over two hours because it involves moving furniture out of the way and putting it back. Remember that I told you the life cylce of a flea is about two weeks under optimal conditions (which we have temperature wise)? That adds up to one full day of vacuuming in less than two weeks. Twenty four hours of my life gone because of a pest. And we still may not be rid of the problem.
What do you do if you have a child? Well, since you have basically put pesticide down on your floors, you really can't have your kid playing all over them, so most of the toys have to stay away for now. The entomologist recommeded I put a blanket down for J to play on (hello, a two year old won't sit on a blanket anymore!). The poor kid is freaked out that all of his toys have basically disappeared and he thinks they went away because they were for babies and not for him. I feel awful. We have a few things out, but for the most part, we're reading a lot of books, playing outside and going places to be distracted. B is away for four days, so that means J has to be extremely patient for those two hours while I am vacuuming (it has to be done all at once because you have to get rid of your vacuum bag as soon as you are finished so that the fleas don't thrive on the dirt in your bag and get out the next time you use the vacuum. Lovely). He's watching way too much TV for my liking, but there are very few options at this point until B comes home since most physical activities will last a max of 15 minutes and he usually wants me to play them with him. I have to say he's been so good and I am grateful for that.
So I beg of all of you to send flea death wishes to my home. I am itchy. I am frustrated. I am tired of vacuuming already. I hope nobody else has to deal with this.
*So there are some other environmental options out there. One is to use diatomaceous earth, but that has to be sprinkled on everything and vacuumed and repeated for up to two weeks. It's not toxic, but apparently you have to wear a mask because you don't want it in your lungs. I also recently found a eco friendly spray at $23.99 a can plus shipping. One can is not enough for the average household and you then have to wait for it to be shipped to you (remember, 50 eggs a day per flea!). So if you think you would want to do that instead of having your house professionally sprayed, you may want to stock up on some of it just in case...