Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Diatomaceous Earth for Flea Control

Fleas- They are nuiances. If you have pets, you have to deal with them. There are many products on the market. Some are chemical and some are natural. A lot of us use a chemical treatment, such as Frontline. But, there are a lot of animals and people out there that are allergic to chemical treatments. The natural treatments composed of essential oils can sometimes have adverse effects on animals (or humans) as well. Whether chemical or natural, you need to research your product and decide for yourself what is the best option for your household. I also like to recommend that pet owners "know their enemy", which means you need to do a little research on the life cycle of a flea. Some products help eliminate all stages of a flea from larvae to adult and some just eliminate the adult stage.

The product I am showing you today, is a natural, non-toxic substance that eliminates ADULT fleas (and other insects as well): Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous Earth is a fine powdery substance that has the consistency of pumice powder. It is made out of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is used in about a million things: toothpastes, facial scrubs, metal polishes, filtration for swimming pools, filtering food products and the list goes on and on. In fact, we eat diatomaceous earth almost everyday. Farmers throw it in with grain stores to keep insects from eating the grain. Gardeners use it for a variety of pests and plant growth problems. Some people even mix it with water and drink it to detox. What must be emphasized is that FOOD GRADE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH IS THE ONLY FORM OF D.E. YOU SHOULD USE ON PETS OR YOURSELF. If it does not say food grade, most likely it is the form of D.E. that is used in pool filtration systems or for some other industrial use and it is very harmful if inhaled or ingested. With that said, when I talk about Diatomaceous Earth in this post, I am talking about food grade quality.

Food grade Diatomaceous Earth is an effective way to kill adult fleas, but you must be vigilant. The algae it is composed of has sharp edges (like pumice). It works by cutting into an insect's exoskeleton causing it to become dehydrated and dry up. It kills an insect on the physical level, not chemically. For application on your pet, it can be sprinkled on and worked into the fur (I usually use a brush). It can also be sprinkled onto carpets, bedding or even outside. BUT, it takes time to work. You must leave it on for a few hours to overnight. Then you can vacuum, wash, bath, ect... It also loses it's effectiveness if it becomes wet. Remember, that it only kills adult fleas. Which is why you must be vigilant. Adult fleas lay eggs. D.E. does not kill the eggs or larvae. Which means, frequent application of D.E. is needed to get rid of the fleas completely. If applied too much, it can also dry out your pet's skin and cause irritation. If you are thinking about using D.E., I would recommend researching the frequency of application for your specific pet. It really varies depending upon how extreme your flea problem is and the length/ thickness of your pet's fur. If you plan on sprinkling large quantities on your carpet, I also recommend wearing a dust mask. Like any sort of powder, it can cause eye or lung irritation if too much is inhaled.

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