How to Exterminate for Ticks, Fleas and Lice
Fleas, lice and ticks are pests that feed on human and animal blood -- and they rapidly reproduce. A single organism carried into your home on your sleeve or in your pet's fur may lay hundreds of eggs, until you have a full-scale infestation in your house. Some pests carry diseases that may endanger your family. Fortunately, you can combat infestations with easy extermination methods, including natural pest killers, sprays and bug bombs. Some methods require you to leave your home to escape the fumes, while others are simple remedies for small-scale infestations.
Vacuum your house thoroughly, including every crevice and all baseboards where pests may hide or lay eggs. According to veterinarian Larry Siegler on the Healthy Happy Dogs website, vacuuming gets rid of most adult fleas and some larvae and eggs, which tend to hide in dark places. Remove the vacuum bag immediately, seal it in a plastic bag and place it in the outdoor trash to ensure none of the pests escape back into your home.
Wash all bedding and blankets in hot, soapy water every week -- especially your pet's bedding for fleas and your pillowcases for lice. Add essential oils to the solution for extra effectiveness at killing pests, as Siegler recommends.
Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth -- available at many garden supply stores -- on the carpet, furniture, your pet's bedding and areas where you have spotted pests. Work it into the carpet with a broom and let it sit for two days before vacuuming. This is a natural powder that dehydrates and kills pests, particularly flea larvae, without harming humans and animals. Inhalation may cause mild respiratory irritation.
Spray a product containing permethrin, a synthetic pesticide that quickly kills ticks, fleas and lice. Do not apply it directly to the skin; instead, spray it on furniture and carpet where you've spotted infestations. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is a weak carcinogen and neurotoxin, but its benefits outweigh its risks. To ensure your family and pets are safe, vacate your house for at least an hour after spraying, preferably with windows open to air out the house.
For major infestations, release a fogger -- also known as a bug bomb -- containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide. This kills fleas, ticks, lice and mites. Choose an open area in your home rather than a closet or other enclosed space, where the product may explode. Keep it away from ignition sources, such as pilot lights and flames. Vacate the premises with your family and pets for the recommended time indicated on the fogger's label. When you return, open windows and turn on fans to ventilate the house.
Things You Will Need
- Vacuum bags
- Food-grade diatomaceous earth
- Permethrin spray
- Pyrethrins + piperonyl butoxide fogger (one per infested room)
- Treat the heads of all dwelling in the house for lice with anti-lice shampoo. According to the National Pest Control Association, head lice live almost exclusively on heads and do not breed in the environment, unlike other pests, which hide in carpet fibers, bedding and baseboards.
- Treat your pet with a veterinarian-approved flea, tick and lice treatment. This will ensure that the pests don't make homes on your pet and lay more eggs.
- Buy food-grade diatomaceous earth; pool-grade earth is too fine to be effective in the home .
- Don't release more than one fogger per room, as foggers are extremely powerful.
- University of California - San Diego: Blink: Getting Rid of Fleas
- Healthy Happy Dogs: The Natural Approach to Flea Control
- Colorado State University Extension: Colorado Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases
- HeadLice.org: Homes Don't Get Head Lice, People Do
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Permethrin Facts
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers