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Old 09-14-2006, 04:03 PM
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battle of the fleas

I think I'm finally getting my garage back. It was taken over by fleas. We had a long heat wave during the summer, with little or no rain, which are perfect conditions for fleas. During the worst of it, I took pity on my 3 dogs and allowed them into my garage where it was cooler (2 bays with concrete, 1 still with dirt floor, crawl space under my woodshop). I didn't realize that 2 of them had managed to get their flea collars off until it was too late. Fleas breed really fast in hot, dry weather. The battle was on.

I used flea shampoo (no, not on me) and even sprayed a solution of it all over the garage. It reduced them, but I still couldn't spend more than a few minutes in the garage without getting bites. The next onslaught was to hose the place down, running it wide open for well over an hour, every where that could stand being soaked. Again a reduction but not wipe-out. I still couldn't spend any time in my woodshop (which couldn't be hosed down) and the dirt-floor bay was owned by the blasted little parasites. I decided it was serious enough to warrant all-out chemical warfare.

Since moving to the wilds nearly 30 years ago, the biggest pesticide usage here has been bug repellent while picking wild blackberries, flea collars for the pets, and the one time the electric company sprayed an herbicide under the wires for about 50 ft before I stopped them (I prefer to mow it and my deer-hunting neighbors like that). As an aside, the guys who were contracted to spray the right-of-way didn't argue with me about not spraying. They told of having chronic diarrhea and headaches ever since they started the job. Their supervisor assured them the poison was totally harmless to humans (riiiight!). This flea invasion had to be stopped. The threat from them outweighed the threat from the pyrethrins in those bug bomb foggers.

I set off 1 fogger can in my son's weight room, 1 in the woodshop, 1 from the trunk lid of my project Olds, and 1 in the middle of my two bays with concrete. Each can is supposed to deal with 6000 cubic feet (about a 25x30 room with 8 ft ceiling). My garage is 36x40, with a 24x40 loft, or about 19,200 cubic feet of volume. Each can was fired with the recommended 2 hour wait before the next can was used. It was a little eery going back in the garage and not seeing any fluttering around the lights. There were 2 roaches and 8 "grandaddy longlegs" spiders (harvester spider is the real name, I think) dead on the concrete, along with quite a few wasps, moths and very tiny bugs of various types. Using a magnifying glass I was able to find several fleas in the carnage. The fact that I could find some at any randomly chosen spot should tell how bad it was.

They were not gone from the dirt floor bay. I set off another fogger on the ground beside the Olds and one behind it, just about 45 minutes apart. When I returned to set one off beside the '59 4CV, I got 3 bites in the time it took to push the trigger, set the can down and get out.

Since that assault yesterday, I've been able to work in my garage again. I spent a lot of hours working on the Olds last night and today and only had a handful of bites. The battle will likely continue until the first hard freeze.

The best solution, long-term, is to finish that bay and pour concrete so I can hose it out properly occasionally. Of course the dogs were banned as soon as I found out they had gotten their collars off. It took two tries (two wasted, lost flea collars) before I got it where they couldn't get the collars off.

A short reference for fleas and pyrethrins:
http://www.farnampet.com/tips/glossary.php

Hope no one else has to fight to get their garage back! I'm heading back to the front line now.

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Old 09-14-2006, 04:37 PM
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Brown Dog recommends Frontline!
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Old 09-14-2006, 04:54 PM
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WHAT THE HECK??? whassamatter with some fleas??
And, why wasn't I invited to this battle?
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:01 PM
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Best thing I've found for inside use is Bengal Flea Killer Plus, in the purple can. It has something that prevents the juvenile stage from being able to get out of its cocoon, so it dies before it can bite you. It keeps them away for several months, once they're gone. It also has only a light odor that dissipates quickly.

You can dust dogs & cats & garages with 5% carbaryl dust (Sevin). It's the same as some commercial flea powders, but without the perfume or the high price. The cats will then avoid you for a few days, because they hate being dusted. Of course you probably won't be able to dust the squirrels, coons, possums, skunks, etc., which also host fleas just as bad as domestic critters.

Outside in the yard, I use whatever granular stuff Wal-Mart sells for $12 for a 20# sack. Usually something like permethrin or tetramethrin. I've used diazinon or chlorpyrifos in the past, but they took that away from us a couple of years ago. Malathion spray works real good if it's a dire flea emergency, but the smell will kill you.
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Old 09-14-2006, 09:50 PM
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A bowl of water with a few drops of dish soap (or maybe it was shampoo) placed out of the way attracts fleas and they drown in the solution. Not a cure, but cheap maintenance. My grandmother swore by it.
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Old 09-14-2006, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BstMech
A bowl of water with a few drops of dish soap (or maybe it was shampoo) placed out of the way attracts fleas and they drown in the solution. Not a cure, but cheap maintenance. My grandmother swore by it.
Now there's a solution (pun intended) I can live with! I did a search on it and that turns up pretty often. It appears that fleas can just hop off the surface of plain water, but soap or detergent reduces the surface tension so they get trapped. One search hit suggested hanging a light just above the water and have that the only light on overnight.

Since I can work in my garage again, all I need is something for maintenance. Thanks!
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Old 09-17-2006, 04:14 AM
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A bowl of water with a few drops of dish soap (or maybe it was shampoo) placed out of the way attracts fleas and they drown in the solution. Not a cure, but cheap maintenance. My grandmother swore by it.
You can't put out enough water to kill all of your fleas. And what you have killed are the adults. You still have the nits or eggs that will eventually hatch. from what my dad always told me and I always did it that way was to do it in two week intervals. Bombs for the adults, followed by bombs in two week for the eggs hatching, followed by spray. Check with your local pat store or vet for flea spray. It cames in a bottle about twice the size of a glass cleaner bottle and has a sprayer. Works really well. We switched groomers for our dogs, and the groomer we went to must of had fleas in her place because that evening we seen both dogs biting and in a few days we were infested with the darn things. I hate gettting bit by fleas. We did what I stated above along with giving the dogs numerous flea baths and got rid of them. The reason I knew the fleas came from the groomers is that we never had a problem before and have not had a problem since. And we did go back to the original groomer. Also we have our lawn fertilized four times a year and in the summer when he sprays, he puts and additive in the spray to take care of fleas and ticks. It doesn't cost any extra but even if it did, it would be well worth it. You could also check with your local Landmark / Farm Bureau place (where farmers go for their supplies) to see if they have a comercial spray. If not then check with your local exterminator for a spray to get.

Kevin
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Old 09-17-2006, 04:52 AM
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Thank you for the information, but I do not think the situation warrants poisoning the landscape. I've managed to live here for over 28 years without resorting to herbicides, insecticides (beyond flea collars for the pets) or chemical fertilizers. (See my opening post).

This particular situation was brought on by unusual weather coupled with the ideal conditions I created in my garage for those fleas to flourish. The weather has changed and I have altered the garage. The pyrethrin fog was warranted inside the garage only because of the level of infestation. The label says that it also kills the larvae.

There is no way to eliminate the fleas in the surrounding thousands of acres of wilderness and near-wilderness. If checks on the flea population did not already exist, the planet would be lifeless by now. Since I'm dead certain that I don't know everything, I'm not about to go on a campaign to make fleas extinct, no matter how much I hate the little bloodsuckers.

I will keep that two-week interval you mentioned in mind. It may be that I will have to fog the inside of my garage again, if another outbreak occurs. For now, it appears to be manageable. I've been able to work two long nights in there with a handful of bites the first night and just a couple the second. It's still the unfinished bay that is the problem, so I'll probably soak that thing with soapy water.

If you ever come to visit, you can safely eat any fruits or berries you find here, with nothing on them except whatever washed out of the air with the last rain.
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:03 PM
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We had the same problem and lost our garage for the entire summer. From what I'm told the buggers are so small they actually can lay eggs down in the microscopic pores in your concrete. We got so frustrated we just paid an exterminator to come out once a week and spray the floor until thier "life cycle" was finally gone.
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:53 PM
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20 mule-team boreaxe will kill fleas, sprinkle it on floor
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve t
20 mule-team boreaxe will kill fleas, sprinkle it on floor
Borax will kill a lot of bugs.. To the bug it's like walking on shards of glass.

Grouch,
I understand about using chemicals... My buddy lost his cottage for a season due to deer ticks. The last thing he wanted was Lime Disease. but was dead set against using any chemicals.
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:15 PM
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I will sprinkle some Borax around the dirt floor bay of my garage.

The two weeks that Kevin45 mentioned has me thinking I'm either going to have to fog the place or hose it out or something every day or two for two weeks. Even if the fog claims to kill the larvae and eggs, it can't get to all of them and the fleas would have been laying eggs every day they were in there.

If I hadn't been in such a rush to get my Olds under roof, I would have a concrete floor in that section and be able to just wash it down as often as I want.
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:34 PM
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i think the fleas eat it and they dry up
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Old 09-20-2006, 07:42 PM
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Might look into sprinkling some diatomaceous earth around the place. I hear it cuts their little bodies up and they dry out.
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Old 09-20-2006, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BstMech
A bowl of water with a few drops of dish soap (or maybe it was shampoo) placed out of the way attracts fleas and they drown in the solution. Not a cure, but cheap maintenance. My grandmother swore by it.
This with a candle in it I heard was a great earth friendly way to kill the lil vampires! The old folks do swear by it.
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