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Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

Posted April 08, 2009 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Fleas are an itchy annoyance that infest pets and homes. Mosquitoes cause itchy bites and can carry disease. In Part 1 of this series on pests, we learned about ticks and Lyme disease. Now let's talk about how to deal with fleas and mosquitoes – and some of the problems they cause.

Fighting Fleas

It starts with the scratching of an ear – something you may not even notice at first. Before you know it, your pet can't stop itching and he or she is completely infested with fleas. The fleas hop off your cat or dog and move on in to your furniture, carpet, and maybe you, too.

Fleas feed on blood, so they bite – leaving an itchy mark and sometimes causing an allergic reaction or rash. The life cycle of a flea is about two weeks, but the average female lays 500 eggs in her lifetime!

As with ticks in Part 1 of this series, the best way to deal with fleas is to prevent them in the first place. Topical treatments that ward off fleas include veterinarian-prescribed monthly insecticides like Frontline and Advantage.

Dealing with a flea problem that is already established is far more challenging. When we rescued our abandoned cat, Frisky, he was loaded with fleas. We tried all types of natural remedies to rid him of the pests, including soaking both him and the house with natural sprays. Nothing worked! We eventually got a prescription spot treatment from a vet and that - in combination with some aggressive vacuuming of the house - seemed to work. Frisky had "shared" his fleas with my two beagles, so they had to be treated as well.

Buzz Off

Mosquitoes and other flying insects also bite and feed on blood; however, they typically only pester animals when they are outdoors. There are 3,500 species of mosquitoes worldwide that kill millions of people each year with the diseases they spread.

Common diseases spread by mosquitoes include West Nile virus (now endemic in the U.S.), heartworm, and various types of encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain usually caused by viral or bacterial infections. Symptoms may seem like the flu and can include severe headache, sudden fever, drowsiness, confusion, vomiting, and seizures. Here is a list of diseases spread by mosquitoes and who they affect:

  • West Nile virus (WNV) – humans, horses, and other animals
  • Heartworm – dogs and cats
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) – humans, horses, birds, and other animals
  • Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) – humans, horses, birds, and other animals
  • St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) – humans, birds, and other animals
  • LaCrosse Encephalitis (LAC) – humans and other animals

Some tips for avoiding mosquito bites:

  • Remove standing water – mosquitoes only need a few inches to lay their eggs.
  • Use larvicides – controls mosquito breeding in large bodies of water.
  • Use a spray that contains DEET.
  • Avoid being out at dusk – many mosquitoes are most active at this time.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/encephalitis.html

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#1

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 9:43 AM

Bugs really do ruin everything fun about the summertime! Who doesn't like BBQ's that run from dawn to dusk (ok, so dawn in this case may mean like 2 in the afternoon). I can only thank my lucky stars that none of my pets have gotten fleas, even though they often travel outside. They despise flea collars so much. Even when forced on them, they somehow manage to get the collars off. I don't know how effective flea collars really are, but I am sure that every little bit would help.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 12:54 PM

I've never had any luck with flea collars, either. Just baths and heavy-duty topical treatments! I'm also hesitant to put flea collars (or any collars, for that matter) on cats that climb trees and could get stuck. Breakaway or not I don't want to risk coming home to find my cat hung in a tree!

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#3

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 1:29 PM

I've found that all that works, all the time, is the prescription type* spot treatments. I like Frontline. It's expensive, but worth every cent. They sell spot types at the supermarket (Hartz?), for about 1/10 the cost but it doesn't work, (found that out the hard way).

* At one point I could only get this type at the vet, but can now get it at PetCo.

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#4
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Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 1:49 PM

Agreed! BioSpot is okay, but not great. I just ordered this season's Frontline from Dr.'s Foster & Smith.com (no prescription required, which is what prevented me from getting it in the past).

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Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 2:22 PM

I've also found that the Frontline will kill ticks, but not before they "dig in". It will kill them before they actually suck blood, so perhaps it will diminish the chance of spreading some disease.

I have a Brittany and a Springer, and the girls just love to run through the woods. I brush them out and check them over, but sometimes I can miss a tick or two, (I check myself out too).

So far, the ticks don't seem to be bad this year, but we'll see.

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#6

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 3:41 PM

Since my cat lives exclusively indoors, I try to avoid getting scammed by the vet as much as possible and treat her at home for fleas with spot-treatments as well. I haven't tried Frontline, but after reading the positive reviews from both you and Bricktop, I will probably try it. The thought of fleas on her, me, or in my house is gross enough to make me want to spend the extra money.

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#7

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 10:40 PM

Many years ago, I found dusting the carpet and pet bedding liberally with boric acid was the only real cure for a flea infestation, after trying all sorts of things recommended by vets and other animal "specialists". It seems the boric acid prevents the larvae from maturing. Works on cockroaches, also- sprinkle liberally in crevices and around the edges where cockroaches like to tread...Boric acid is apparently harmless if injested by pets or humans.

With regards to mosquitoes, sand fleas, noseeums and other critters desiring a blood meal at dawn or dusk, I have found the most effective treatment is a heavy coating of body lotion. I have not evaluated various brands- usually the brand I use is whatever is available in those tiny packages in the hotel room. I don't know if the oil discourages actual attacks, disguises the signals that attract the pests in the first place, or simply stop the itching after the attack, but it sure improves the comfort level.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/09/2009 2:51 AM

Boric acid is really harmless to mammals including humans.

As it is a necessary plant fertilizer some is existing in natural food.

Safe estimated level is 100mg of boron per day, first headaches (gone after 1 day as there seems to be no accumulation in our body) at 500mg/day.

100 mg boron converts to 545 mg boric-acid (HBO3).

100 years ago boric acid was used widely as a preservative of many foods. But with the advent of refrigeration partly forgotten and partly banned because of misuse.

RHABE

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#13
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Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/09/2009 8:13 AM

With regards to mosquitoes, sand fleas, noseeums and other critters desiring a blood meal at dawn or dusk, I have found the most effective treatment is a heavy coating of body lotion.

Interesting tip - I'm going to have to give this a try. Mosquitos and noseeums are the worst!

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#8

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/08/2009 10:42 PM

No one has mentioned ants, but, since we are discussing repelents, try a bit of fresh-ground pepper to deter an ant invasion at your next picnic...

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#10

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/09/2009 3:47 AM

The anopheles mosquito that spreads most Malaria in Africa is believed to bite at night; in most countries from about 21:00 hrs to 04:00 hrs. They are actually anthropophilic, though not exclusively so (prefer biting humans). They also prefer to live indoors which is why the most successful system for fighting the dreaded malaria is the spraying in and around houses coupled with the use of treated sleeping/bed nets.

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#11

Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/09/2009 6:35 AM

A few drops of Lavender oil rubbed onto all exposed skin areas works wonders against Mossies. You don't need to see a schmeer, almost the "thought" is enough to keep them off....a small bottle lasts ages. Do not over do it......

This was tested extensively last summer in Italy on people with use who were being attacked (we had already used it so we had no problems) and the attacks stopped immediately.....

Old English cottages had a bush at each corner of the house......sadly, the hard winter has killed off much of ours.....

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#12
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Re: Buzz Off – Pest Prevention (Part 2)

04/09/2009 7:50 AM

Here in upstate NY I discovered tick season to have started about 4 weeks ago even though the temperatures have seldom been much above 50 degrees on a consistent basis.

I hesitantly used Frontline last year with limited success, my dog still ended up getting several ticks throughout the year. Personally I hate the idea of applying a harmful pesticide to my dog especially when it was not fool-proof last year.

This year I am trying natural remedies in search of a safer solution to tick & flea problems. I was surprised when I pulled 4 ticks from my dog barely into April this year. I thought it was way too early for these nasty suckers to be showing up. So after doing some research I decided to try a Herbal Defense Shampoo & Conditioner along with a Herbal Defense Spray from Only Natural Pet. I am into my 3rd week using these products and I have found that a bath on the weekend with the shampoo & conditioner followed up with a midweek defense spray has not yielded a single tick. However the first week I only gave my dog a bath on Saturday with no other treatment during the week and she picked up 2 ticks late in the week. So my initial thoughts are these products do work but I will need to be consistent with bathing and spraying every 4 days or so. I will happily do that to avoid applying the more harmful pesticide applications. And all three products actually leave a nice scent on my dog as well!

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