With temperatures warming in most parts of the country, it is time for those pesky little fleas and ticks to start biting and re-populating. There is nothing pleasant about being bitten. Fleas and ticks can be dangerous, causing problems for both pets and their owners.
Determined not to let the fleas and ticks ruin your party or hitch a ride on your pooch, you may be inclined to spray your yard or home with a commercial flea and tick killer and treat your pet with the same. Beware… not only are these products dangerous to your pets, but they could leave your lawn and home toxic.
Dangerous Chemicals in Commercial Products
There have been a number of legal cases in the last several years that have highlighted the dangerous ingredients in commercial flea and tick products. Some even contain toxic nerve gas. This is just not something that you want hanging around your home, lawn, family or pets.
Flea and tick products contain two types of ingredients: inert ingredients and synergists. Inert ingredients are those that help to increase the potency and performance of the product and take up the bulk of the ingredients.
However, these ingredients are not clearly identified on the label. Synergists are additional chemical agents that strengthen the killing power of the product. Two dangerous, but common, synergist pesticides are MGK264 and piperonyl butoxide.
Most products contain up to 20 times more synergistic than they do insecticides and many of these are known to cause health problems such as impaired liver function. However, the problem remains that companies are not required to list all of these ingredients on their labels, and can claim them as their “trade secret.”
Pesticide ingredients in flea and tick products can be neurotoxic, can cause genetic damage, have been listed as carcinogens, can damage a pet’s liver, can cause reproductive problems, and can build up in your pet’s liver and cause problems with their immune systems. All of these poisons settle in on your yard, lawn furniture, in your home, in water supplies, landfills etc…
Indoor flea and tick foggers or bombs coat the inside of your home with toxic residue. They may wipe out the fleas, but they leave behind a trail of hazardous chemical dust. Foggers can trigger respiratory problems including asthma and allergies, in addition to nausea and dizziness. Flea collars are soaked in chemical pesticides and continually emit toxins into the air in your home.
Like super-bugs and crop insects, many fleas and ticks have become completely resistant to commercial products. This only makes the problem worse.
The Safer Way
For Your Yard
One of the best ways to get rid of fleas is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth on your yard. This organic pest control method is designed to damage flea larvae as they climb through the grass. The very small particles are as sharp as glass.
Once the larvae are damaged, they can not grow into adult fleas. Cedar is also a natural flea and tick deterrent. Line your garden beds with cedar chips and use cedar chip mulch around trees and shrubs.
Fleas and ticks also the smell the acidity of garlic. It is easy and inexpensive to make your own yard garlic spray, or you can buy it already made. To make the spray, blend five peeled garlic bulbs in the blender and strain off the garlic juice. Mix 1/4 cup of the garlic juice with 1 cup of water. Mix 1 cup of water to every 1/4 cup of garlic oil. Spray your yard twice a week for 8 weeks and monitor the situation. Re-apply after heavy rains and at least once a month for best control.
You can also consider a biological control. Nematodes prey on fleas and can be applied to your lawn area. The nematodes will attack and kill the fleas along with many other lawn and garden pests. Be sure to apply the nematodes when it is cloudy, they are sensitive to bright light.
For Your Pet
There are several natural and effective ways to keep fleas and ticks off of your pets. Fleas, in particular, hate the smell of citrus. Mix up a citrus spray for your pet by boiling one cup of water over a sliced lemon. Soak the lemon in the water overnight and rub it on your pet’s coat. Don’t forget behind the ears and the tail region. Be careful not to get any in your pet’s eyes.
Fleas are also not so fond of the taste or smell of vinegar. Bathing your pet in white distilled vinegar will help take care of fleas. You can add a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil for a pleasant smell.
Brewers yeast tablets are an effective and natural way to protect your dog from fleas from the inside out. The same holds true for apple cider vinegar. Add a few drops to the water dish to keep fleas at bay.
Keep your home clean and vacuum often, especially in areas where your pets may lay. Wash bedding with a vinegar rinse often as this will also help keep the flea population down inside of your home.
-The Alternative Daily