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Through the late 1980's we saw increasingly severe flea problems almost annually in Iowa. Fortunately, that trend did not continue in the early 1990's and flea populations have been highly variable from year to year and place to place.
Flea control can be very frustrating and at times somewhat discouraging. In order to effectively eliminate a flea problem, a step-wise program needs to be implemented. The three steps to effective flea management are treatment of infested pets, vacuuming and cleaning of infested premises and spraying or dusting infested premises.
Since most flea problems originate from an infested cat or dog, elimination of fleas from the pets is the first and most important step. Insecticides approved for direct application to pets as spot treatments, dips, dusts, sprays, or shampoos are available at most discount stores. In addition, most veterinarians will also provide flea control services for your pet.
Once the pet has been treated, efforts should then focus on the indoor premises. Particular attention should be paid to areas of the home where the pet sleeps or spends the majority of its time. Blankets or rugs that may be used as pet bedding should be discarded or laundered in hot, soapy water. All carpeted areas and upholstered furniture should be thoroughly vacuumed and the sweeper bag contents discarded.
If the flea infestation is light, frequent and thorough vacuuming may eventually eliminate the problem. Moderate to heavy infestations, however, will usually necessitate the application of a residual insecticide to carpets, baseboards, cracks and crevices, and other areas where fleas may be present. Good results have been achieved using products that contain a contact insecticide along with an insect growth regulator. For more information on insecticides please see this article. Spray treatment can be performed by a professional pest control operator if the homeowner so desires. Flea traps using light bulbs and sticky paper do capture some fleas but it is unclear if they can eliminate an infestation.
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