Fleas are a nuisance for pets and humans and controlling them is almost always a huge hassle. Often, pet owners know about the right products and correct ways to treat their pets as well as its indoor environment for flea control. However, many people are at a loss when it comes to applying flea control products outdoors. Fleas often come inside our homes from outside, as they prefer moist, non-flooded areas which are out of direct sunlight. Moreover, fleas inhabit areas where pets spend a lot of time in: crawl spaces and sleeping areas under the porches, bushes etc. Hence, outdoor flea treatment must be directed in these spaces as well. Many chemicals can be used for this purpose, however, these are not recommended as they are harmful to the environment. Instead, spraying the outdoors with beneficial nematodes for fleas is a safer, non-toxic method that is also highly effective.
What are beneficial nematodes for fleas? How do they work?
A nematode called Steinerma carpocapsae is a parasite of fleas. It is known to effectively kill adult fleas as well as their larvae and pupa in grass and soil. Pet owners with large backyards can spray treat their gardens with a beneficial nematode solution to keep their pets safe from flea menace in the summer months. Beneficial nematodes are environmentally safe, so they do not damage crops and gardens. Studies have shown that these ‘non-toxic pest control operators’ can eliminate more than 90% of flea larvae within 24 hours of the first application.
Beneficial nematodes are microscopic roundworms that feed on organic matter like dead and decaying plants and animals, as well as living garden insects and fleas. They generally live in warm and moist soils, and enter the host by boring a hole in its body wall. Upon entry, they release bacteria that help predigest the host for the nematodes, resulting in the host’s death within 48 hours of entry. After feeding, they exit the dead organism and go in search of new prey. The best part about using beneficial nematodes for fleas outdoors, is that they do not harm pets, humans or plants.
How to use beneficial nematodes for flea control?
Beneficial nematodes for flea control are best for outdoor treatment, although they can also be safely used on carpets and rugs. However, you must thoroughly vacuum the carpets if you opt for this method for indoor flea control.
Here are a few steps to prevent flea infestations from outdoors:
- Spray the kennels and doghouses with the nematode solution (this can be done using hose end sprayers filled with the nematode solution).
- Apart from kennels, if your pets tend to sleep under bushes, porches or other crawl spaces, then ensure spraying these areas with the beneficial nematodes solution as well.
- Closely mow all the grass, trim bushes and remove weeds regularly.
- Irrigate outdoor areas surrounding the buildings on regular basis as moisture and un-drained spaces repel fleas.
Preventing flea re-infestation from outdoors
No matter how much you vacuum your home or bathe your pet using flea repellent products, fleas can also enter your home through wildlife like raccoons, chipmunks, opossums, bats etc. Pets inhabit the same areas as this wildlife, unknowingly bringing these parasites inside your home. Therefore, it is essential to continue spraying the yard with nematodes for fleas to curb flea population. It is also important to remove unwanted structures and bushy growths that create a suitable habitat for wild animals. Eliminate the wood piles and vegetation closer to the home to reduce wildlife harborage. Indoors, wash the pet’s bedding with hot water, diluted bleach or borax solution. Routinely vacuum the cracks and crevices in floorboards and seal all areas between the baseboards and floors. The vacuum cleaner bags must be disposed of to prevent fleas from coming back into the home.
These steps are essential to make the nematodes for fleas’ treatment more effective. If you want to try out beneficial nematodes, you can find it here.
Got fleas? Find out which products work in 2019, with my updated flea control product comparison chart.