Integrated pest management (IPM) refers to a systematic eco-based approach to the long-term extermination and prevention of pests. If you’re struggling with a flea infestation in or around your home, you should consider using IPM. When performed correctly, it’s a safe and highly effective method for treating flea infestations.
Integrated Pest Management Defined
Most modern-day methods of flea control rely on harsh chemical-based insecticides and pesticides. These products have become increasingly powerful over the years, which is both good and bad. Current flea treatment products are highly effective at exterminating fleas, some of which can target fleas during all four stages of their life, but these products also leave individuals and family members exposed to potentially harmful chemicals. If you read the instruction label on a typical flea collar, it may say something along the lines of “Avoid contact with skin. If exposed, wash the affected area immediately.”
IPM is designed to exterminate and prevent pests (or fleas in this instance) in a manner that’s safe to the surrounding environment, people, and other animals. The first step in launching an IPM is to identify your flea problem. Pay attention to the fleas’ origin, their population numbers, their hosts, and the type of flea. Most flea infestations in the U.S. are attributed to the cat flea — even fleas found on dogs. The cat flea is small, usually about 1-2 mm in length, and possesses a reddish-brown color. Like most other species of fleas, it has a hard other shell that serves as a barrier of protection against damage and injury, which is why you can’t squish a cat flea between your fingers to kill it.
Familiarizing yourself with the unique characteristics and behavioral traits of the cat flea will allow you to make changes to your home to discourage these pests from thriving here.
IPM Solutions To Exterminate and Prevent Fleas:
- Lower the temperature down in your home. Fleas prefer warm climates of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- Install a dehumidifier. Fleas also love humid environments, so installing a dehumidifier in your home will naturally discourage them from reproducing here.
- Keep your floors vacuumed. A recent university study found vacuuming to eliminate up to 95% of the flea infestation in a home.
- If you own a dog or cat, bathe them with a flea-formulated shampoo once a week or as directed.
- Wash your pet’s bedding with hot water and extra detergent.
- Monitor the flea infestation, taking note of how fleas react to various treatment methods.