If you have a flea problem and search the web for ways of how to get rid of them, you’ll probably come across hundreds of articles telling you about ‘natural flea control methods’, which for some reason always involve essential oils and about the scary dangers of chemicals and pesticides. While you are most welcome to try any of these natural methods yourself, we are here to tell you that they are either downright ineffective, or simply only work on adult fleas (such as the popular ‘soapy water lamp trap’), which by the way, only comprise 5% of the flea population. That means for every adult flea you see, there are 19 more fleas at various other stages of its development. Insecticides and flea sprays on the other hand, despite being scary chemicals (don’t worry, they’re perfectly safe as long as you take the necessary precautions), are the most proven effective treatment against fleas at all stages of its lifecycle.

First let’s talk about insecticides. Typically there are two types of insecticides, which are designed to be used in combination.

  • Liquid Residual Insecticides – These kill off the adult fleas.
  • Insect Growth Regulators – These prevent the flea larvae from even developing into the cocoon stage, stopping their lifecycle dead in its tracks. Most effective indoors as direct UV exposure breaks down its chemical components and reduces its effectiveness.

flea-lifecycleThe next thing you should know if that the flea cycle can last up to six weeks so patience is necessary for a total eradication. This website, which talks about how to get rid of fleas in the house and on your pets, focuses on a complete insecticide treatment, uses a combination of the two types of insecticides above. This method will typically last for about four to six months. You can purchase both types of flea insecticides at your local hardware store or online. Mix the two insecticides in a pump sprayer with water and apply the combination for your carpets, rugs, and floors. Take note of the following tips:

  • The mixed insecticide solution does not store well, so try to use it all the same day you mix it, and don’t mix more than necessary.
  • As the fleas’ lifecycles lasts up to six weeks, it is normal to continue to see adult fleas even after a month. The full effect of the growth inhibitor will only be seen after six weeks. As such, you may need to use the residual insecticide by itself for a second treatment after about a month from the first one.
  • The growth inhibitor itself will last about four to six months.

raid-flea-aerosol-sprayNow let’s look at flea control aerosols. Again, easily available at most hardware stores or online, these are basically combinations of the liquid residual insecticides and insect growth inhibitor, premixed for you with other active ingredients, all in one convenient aerosol can. If that is the case, you might be wondering why you would want to even bother going through the trouble of purchasing the liquid residual insecticide and the insect growth inhibitor separately and then mixing them yourself. That is certainly a valid question, and the reason why these convenient flea control aerosol sprays are not always suitable for you are:

  • They don’t work well on concrete surfaces. So if you have a large concrete area in your backyard or garden where your pets play, it would be more ideal to treat that area with the liquid insecticide combination.
  • Simply put, it is more economical to purchase liquid insecticide solutions and mix them yourself, compared to using aerosol spray. Aerosol sprays are naturally more expensive due to the aerosol bottle, the premixing, other active ingredients, and of course additional labor costs from the more complex manufacturing process.

In addition to convenience however, aerosol sprays do have another advantage over the liquid insecticide combination: it adheres to surfaces more readily. This makes it ideal for hard floor surfaces such as hardwood floors, tile floors, and laminated floors. You will usually need at least two spray treatments to destroy the flea cycle. The first treatment is to stop the flea lifecycle and kill the adult fleas, and the second to kill any new adult fleas that were in their cocoons during the first treatment (cocoons can protect flea larvae from insecticides). The two treatments should be spaced about two weeks apart.

One last tip: vacuum frequently during the entire treatment cycle. Vacuums not only help reduce the physical presence of the fleas at all stages of the lifecycle, the physical disturbance created by the vacuum also causes the cocoons to hatch prematurely, shortening the lifecycle of the fleas and making them more vulnerable to the treatments.

Picture this: You’ve just boarded a plane, waiting for it to bring you to your next tropical island vacation. Amidst visions of palm trees, bikinis, and pina coladas dancing in your head, you decide to do a little people watching to pass the time, and of course to keep a look out for any obese passengers that may be assigned as your seatmate, which might ruin your vacation before it even starts. Thank your lucky stars and all the gods of the pantheon, but this time there are no anthropomorphic manatees sent from the pits of Hades to turn your plane ride into an elaborate torture experience that even Dante himself could not have imagined.

As the last of the passengers shuffle onboard, that’s when you see him: The Guy With The Portable Pillow.

portable-travel-pillowPerhaps the pillow is already slung around his neck, ready for action as soon as he sits down. Or maybe he removes it from his carry-on luggage first, casually placing it on his seat before stuffing his bag, likely some faux-hipster messenger bag, into the overhead compartment. He settles into his seat, pillow nicely in place, and a smug, self-satisfied look plastered on his face. One look at him tells you that the chance of him reclining his seat to the maximum extent possible as soon as the  ‘Fasten Seat Belts’ light goes off is roughly 99.9%. This time, you thank the gods that he isn’t sitting in front of you. You imagine that if he were, you would pick a quiet moment during the flight, when the cabin lights are dimmed and most people are asleep to stand up and smother him to death with his own stupid pillow.

Well guess what? I’m that guy, the guy with the portable pillow. And this is my defense.

slipped-discFirst of all, I want you to know that I have an extremely legitimate, super serious, real medical doctor certified condition. It’s called a slipped disc (which means very bad pain at night while trying to get some sleep), and I happen I happen to have one in my C4 – C5 vertebrae. Needless to say, that makes air travel extremely uncomfortable unless I use my favorite neck pain pillow (just in case you’re wondering, it’s this one here), what with airplane seats being almost as tough and hard as the bulletproof cockpit doors they have on planes now. That’s right, I need it for a pain-free travel experience, so do you feel bad now? If you don’t like it, feel free to talk to my doctor!

A C4 – C5 herniated disc, (C4 – C5 meaning that the affected disc is between the fourth and fifth vertebrae on the cervical spine) can result in not only neck pain, but shoulder pain (due to nerve impingement) as well. So my trusty pillow, which provides support for my cervical spine, helps with both the pain in my neck and shoulder as well. If you ever had a slipped disc before, I’m sure you would empathize. If you never had, well, you better pray you are never subject to such an annoying experience. Annoying, you say? Why, yes, a slipped disc is no debilitating condition, and I would never subject myself to such self-pity. It is however, highly annoying, make no mistake about it. That’s why I use my pillow even when I’m driving too, and yes, I have seen drivers shoot me weird sidelong looks as they pass me. To those drivers, allow me to extend my middle finger as a gesture of my appreciation.

Secondly, I would like you to know that yes, I do indeed have a smug, self-satisfied look on my face when I bust out my pillow and relax contently into my seat. And why shouldn’t I? After all, for the price of a crappy airport meal, I can turn my coach class experience into an almost business class level of comfort. Not my fault you didn’t make a smart investment; instead of snickering and making derisive remarks under your breath, why not try one of these pillows? You may be surprised, and you may never travel without one again.

And thirdly, I will recline my seat as much and for as long as possible, thank you very much. That’s why airlines added this feature right? And it’s not like the guy in front of me is going to keep his seat at a perfect 90 degree angle, just for my sake. I sometimes wonder if the guy all the way in the front is the one who sets a chain reaction; reclining his seat first and causing a ripple all the way to the back of the plane. Except for the guy in the last row of course, that unfortunate soul is usually unable to recline his seat; he’s like the guy at the tail end of The Human Centipede.