Flea Control

Though it's September we are still experiencing warm, dry weather here in the Northeast, and with it the flea populations continue to multiply throughout the region. Vets say that many people are experiencing infestations and general irritation with the little buggers. Our own home has been no exception, as well as that of my mother's. We have bathed the animals, used flea collars, diatomaceous earth, garlic, sprays for bedding, and even bombed the homes multiple times. My mother has sprayed the areas just outside the house, too. 

All these chemicals make me nervous. Obviously, they aren't working, and layering them on one after the other, powder on top of spot treatment on top of collar seems very dangerous for the enture household, but most especially for the animals themselves.

I am especially wary of yard treatments: isn't this part of the reason why there are less bees and praying mantis and such? I usually just stick with diatomaceous earth, a safe inseect killer, and lots of vacuuming though in an infestation situation I have done what I have to keep the home safe. I am ill at ease with the concept that we humans have the right to kill ALL insects outside the house. I mean, I hate the ants that come in my home every year and I do put out traps in the kitchen and spray the base of the house to keep them away, but they are more than welcome to inhabit all space oustide of my home. I have similar distaste for Roundup, and will only use it on persistant poison ivy which refuses annihilation by pulling up (yeah, you know who you are, you, you plant in the back!)... 

There are tons of safe alternatives for flea control out there -- beneficial nematode spray will decrease flea larvae in the yard by 90% within 24 hours. D.E. can be put around your home and rubbed safely into your pet's fur. Nylar is a safe chemical that you can use indoors with a lot less fear of toxicity than other products -- try I.G. Regulator. Flea collars are less toxic to animals than the spot on treatments, but not as effective, and a bit more hazardous to your humans...try natural neem oil or repellants. 

And if you still want to believe all those chemicals are good for your animals, or you, here is this excerpt from the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association’s newsletter:
In response to more than 44,000 potential adverse reactions to spot-on flea and tick products reported in 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of these products. No recalls have been issued at this time. The AVMA will continue to maintain contact with the EPA and monitor the situation, and updates will be posted as they come to our attention. To see the EPA’s statement, including a chart of products, go to www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/flea-tick-control.html. For information about reporting adverse events, go to www.avma.org/animal_health/reporting_adverse_events.asp.
And this from the EPA itself:
U.S. and Canada to Increase Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Pet Products
Release date: 04/16/2009
(Washington, DC - April 16, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for pets due to recent increases in the number of reported incidents. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, the death of pets. . . . Incidents with flea and tick products can involve the use of spot-on treatments, sprays, collars and shampoos. However, the majority of the incidents reported to EPA are related to flea and tick treatments with EPA-registered spot-on products.

For more info check out this great site:

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