The night before last night I found a flea. A Flea! The nasty little thing jumped on my arm and was gone before I could catch it. I could barely sleep that night because I kept waking up and scratching (although I never saw anything beyond the first one). At this point I should probably point out that I am a F R E A K about anything buggy.
Spiders, flies, etc. in my house are enough to send me into full panic mode. When my DH is home he catches the spiders and puts them outside. When he isn’t home they die a gruesome death. The mode of fly disposal here involves ammonia spray and paper towels. The mere knowledge that there’s one somewhere in the house buzzing around, waiting for the perfect opportunity to spread billions of germs on our food, etc. requires the entire family to go into fly-hunting mode until it can be located and killed. Flies are the reason our neighbors listen to me yell at the girls to keep the doors shut all summer long.
But fleas present an entirely new level of terror and mania. Once in your home they’re hard to get rid of and they can be hiding virtually any place. Fleas are capable of transmitting a form of typhus, as well as tapeworm and other parasites. Visions of Bubonic Plague resurfacing also come to mind. Did you know that there are different species of fleas that have adapted for the types of animals they infest? The main reason they’re hard to get rid of is that even if all mature fleas are destroyed their eggs linger. These eggs can take up to two weeks to hatch, thus re-infesting your home.
I’ve almost always had at least one cat, along with a various assortment of other critters. Even so, over the years we’ve had very little trouble with the dreaded varmints, but treating them requires immediate and intensive actions, especially in carpeted areas. Many years ago we tried bug bombs, but bug bombs leave sticky residue on all surfaces and seldom penetrate the carpet fibers, which are prime incubation spots for eggs. Traditional exterminators won’t guarantee to kill fleas unless you sign an on-going contract. Not only are these expensive, but they spray the same nasty crap down that comes in the bombs. Back when we lived up in Bellingham we moved into a duplex that came complete with fleas (we didn’t get our kitty, Paisley, until several months later). At that time we called a company called, Flea Busters. They didn’t require contracts because one application of their treatment was guaranteed to kill fleas and their future eggs. When we questioned the safety of the product the representative actually picked up a small chunk of the powder and ATE IT! He went on to explain that the main ingredient in what they used was borax. The boric acid in the Borax penetrates their shells, causing them to crack and dehydrate. Sure enough, it worked. The company is since out of business as a service company but several years ago they still sold their product on-line.
Years later, at our home in Spanaway, we were treated to the delights of fleas again, courtesy of our dog, Ronny (he now lives with someone else for an entirely different reason). We applied the Borax ourselves to the carpets and it worked again. The application was tiresome though and took an entire day to rake it into the carpet fibers. Unfortunately, our current home is much larger than other places we lived, with vast amounts of carpet. We’re messy people who should not have carpet at all, but rather have concrete floors with a drain in the middle… but that’s another post. Key to this process working is making sure that the Borax, once into soft surfaces that harbor eggs, stays there for weeks. Light surface vacuuming is fine, but no carpet shampooing or deep suction vacuuming for 14 days.
So yesterday I drove to the nearest store, purchased every box of borax they had (5) and proceeded to coat all of the carpets in our house. Did I mention that we have a lot of carpet?
Brushing the powder in took longer than it should have because there were large chunks in the boxes, which had probably sat on the grocery store shelf for quite several years. Once it was worked in then I set the vacuum cleaner on a high pile setting then sucked up the lose borax from the top.
While I did this the girls stripped all of the beds in the house so the bedding could be washed and the mattresses treated. The washing machine and dryer are still trying to catch up today.
Of course all of this house treatment is useless unless the kitties are treated too. First, I thoroughly bathed the cats with flea shampoo. Holding them in sink up to their chins in a mix of water and flea shampoo for an extended length of time to drown the critters was attempted. Unfortunately the kitties did not enjoy this. Not one bit. They were insistent that they were dying. Tasha howled woefully while looking at me imploringly with her big blue eyes. Bonny panted frantically while shooting me caustic looks.
When their baths were over Bonny wouldn’t tolerate the blow dryer, instead she sulked in the corner until she was dry enough for me to apply her flea medicine. Tasha enjoyed the warm air though and I was able to trim her nails and even clean her ears. I’m fully expecting to be ignored by both of them and wouldn’t be surprised to find poop in my shoes. What’s worse is that just about the time they’ve forgiven me for this indignity the kitties will get baths and flea treatments again.
Needless to say I didn’t get to knit or spin. The good news is that I’ve stopped itching. Mostly. Cheers!