Eco-fleas and the green pet

Photo: istockphoto.com/Adrian Moisei
The hot weather has brought an early flea season so now is the time to start your fight against these bloodsuckers. Where and when The hot weather has brought an early flea season so now is the time to start your fight against these bloodsuckers. Where and when A female flea needs to feed on blood before she can reproduce. Once they've bitten your pet, the females jump into bedding, carpets, upholstery, couches and even cracks in the floor to start laying her eggs (up to 60 at a time). Eggs usually hatch in seven to 14 days. Spotting fleas An animal scratching like mad is a dead giveaway. Check along the belly and inner thighs for fleas – they are a dark copper colour and about the size of a pin. Fleas actually spend very little time on their host so look for flea dirt resembling specks of pepper. Place some of the dirt on a wet paper towel and if a blood stain appears then you've got fleas and must act quickly. Natural control Avoid using those temptingly convenient chemicals in the form of collars, powders, sprays and supplements. Most fleas are resistant to them and companies have responded by making the chemicals even stronger. The EPA has recalled several flea products after adverse reactions of hair loss, salivation, tremors and even deaths were reported. Collar them Essential oils of pennyroyal, citronella, cedar, eucalyptus, lemongrass, rue and lavender are all natural repellants for fleas. Make your own spray by using 10 mL (half an ounce) of rubbing alcohol with 15 drops of two oils combined. Use this on your pet and their bedding for prevention. Two popular brands of flea collars, the Play Dead™ Herbal Collar and PetGuard Herbal Collar, have small beads of essential oils embedded into a plastic collar so the oils are slowly released. Blow them away Diatomaceous earth is a natural, safe and non-toxic alternative. This soft rock resembling flour is made up of fossilized skeletons, diatoms, a microscopic organisms. The sharp ridges of the skeletons pierce the flea's protective coating, causing them to die of dehydration within 48 hours. The Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy combines diatomaceous earth with sage, eucalyptus and other herbs. Rub into your pet's fur, sprinkle it on their bedding and say goodbye to your fleas. Gonna wash that flea right out of that hair Oil from the Indian Neem tree is a natural pesticide and repellant and excellent for controlling fleas. Ark Naturals Neem Bug Free™ Shampoo is a popular brand. Herbal Defense Shampoo combines calendula, chamomile and other essential oils to prevent unwanted visitors. Both companies offer a spray that complements the shampoo. From the inside out Brewer's yeast will make your pet unpalatable to fleas. Mix one teaspoon for cats or small dogs and a tablespoon for larger dogs into their food. Many people have reported success with B12 vitamins and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar added to the drinking water. Trap them A flea trap can help rid in cleaning up as well. Put a dish of water under a night light near your pet's bed. As the fleas jump towards the light they will fall into the water and drown. If you're worried about spilling water, the electric Spring Star Flea Trap uses a sticky pad to trap the suckers. Get them at the source Eliminate fleas from your garden by spraying nematodes over your plants. These microscopic worms eat flea larvae before they hatch. They are safe for animals and humans but must be applied when soil temperatures is between 12 and 29° C (55 and 85 F). After reading this you're probably feeling itchy. Relax. Fleas prefer furry mammals and will munch on humans as a last resort.