DIY Pest Control: How To Properly Use Flea Sprays And Insecticides

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.

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