Farewell to Fleas?
I'm desperately seeking relief from flea bites and the allergic reaction I get. have tried numerous internal and external repellents (B-12, eucalyptus and pennyroyal) to no avail. The fleas find me, bite, and cause severe itching over my entire body. This is extremely uncomfortable and upsetting, as they are leaving chicken pox-like scarring that lasts for months. Have you any experience with this?
This is a tough one. Fleas love the humid conditions of Hawaii, coastal California, the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic seaboard south of Maryland. Breeding conditions there are perfect year-round, and with 100 fleas able to produce a half-million offspring in one month, you can see why they continue to find you.
I'm sorry to say your best hope may be to fumigate your house with chemical "bombs" available at pet food stores and veterinarians (make sure you stay out of your house during the bombing process). In my experience, the natural repellents that you mention don't work nearly as well as chemical pesticides for severe infestations.
If you're set on natural repellents, pyrethrins, active insecticidal ingredients found in chrysanthemum extracts, will kill the fleas and degrade rapidly in the environment. They are nontoxic to humans. You will need to use these or other treatments more than once in order to get more than one generation of fleas. Growth regulators such as fenoxycarb mimic flea hormones and prevent the young larvae from becoming adult fleas.
One natural product that you might try is Neem, a powerful and relatively safe insecticide obtained from a tree in India. You should be able to find it at garden stores. Also, some people dust carpets, furniture, and the crevices where fleas hide out with diatomaceous earth. This is the fossilized "skeleton" of a one-celled sea algae often used by organic farmers to kill insects.
There are biological insecticides that you can try outdoors. Several brands available at lawn and garden stores employ nematodes - tiny worms - that feed on the flea larvae.
You don't say whether you have pets. If you do, try keeping them outside the house. Wash their bedding in hot water and detergent and keep doing so once a week. Also, there's a relatively new product available from vets called PROGRAM, which you adminster to your pet once a month. Many people have seen dramatic improvement in bad flea situations after starting PROGRAM.
Once you get things under control, vacuuming every other day may help remove the eggs that fleas lay in the carpet. Get rid of the vacuum bag each time, because the fleas will hatch inside. When you wash the floor, pay special attention to baseboards and under the furniture. Shampoo your carpets or bring in a professional steam cleaner at least twice a year. The best way to fight fleas is to keep your environment scrupulously clean.
Good luck on this one.