Problem with Fleas and DE!


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Old 11-08-12, 12:46 PM
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Problem with Fleas and DE!

Hey guys,
I'm wondering what's going on here - I purchased some DE on Ebay back in August and started applying it around the yard because I have fleas out there (no pets either). Even after several applications though, I would continue to walk out there and still find fleas jumping on me. I ended up buying nematodes and applying them earlier this week - hopefully it's more effective.

Anyway, I decided to do a little experiment and caught some fleas and put them in a jar with several tablespoons of DE. One of the fleas died but I think it was because the jar was slightly wet when I initially put DE it probably drowned in some of the paste that formed. I did make sure to put more fresh DE in after the water dried up too since I know water will neutralize its effects.

I still have 3 fleas left (one I caught a couple days ago but the other two have been in the jar for a good week now). But the DE seems to be having no effect on them!

I've read conflicting information from various sources - some say DE doesn't work on adult fleas and only works on larvae. Others have reported their experience that it does work and have even said they caught fleas, put them in a jar with DE, and they were dead within hours at most.

Any ideas as to why it's either not working or taking so long to have an effect on the fleas in the jar? It shouldn't take this long, should it? Unless it's really true that DE has no effect on adult fleas...
 
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Old 11-08-12, 04:00 PM
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Is the diatomaceous earth loose and powdery or still clumped and crusted from being wet?

Chris
 
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Old 11-08-12, 04:08 PM
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Iím not aware that DE is to be broadcast over an area; Iíve always thought of it as a void space or crack/crevice treatment.

Have you positively identified these insects as fleas? That is an important first step.

DE works in the same way that boric acid and silica dust does meaning that it cuts the insects skin/cuticle. Insects do not heal their cuts so they dehydrate. This type of treatment is not a flea treatment and I donít think that it would be ďavailableĒ to them in this manner.

Nematodes were a good idea but they donít seem to work on anything. Everyone in our industry used to be excited about them.

Can you post pictures (close up) of these guys?
 
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Old 11-08-12, 05:11 PM
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chfite, some of the DE is clumped up but I also have a lot of it in there and even added more after the fact. I guess I could try getting a completely dry jar, putting some new DE in, and carefully extract the fleas into it.

PAbugman, I'm almost positive these are fleas - they jump, are crazy-hard to find, and look like fleas, at least. And I've been in the yard multiple times and have come back in with bites when I go out barefoot or with socks. Nowadays, I put on my Xtratufs and that seems to keep them from crawling up. I still see one or two occasionally on my sock when I get back in (that's how I collected them for the jar test). I'll try to get some pictures of them later tonight.

I've read that nematodes work best in sandy soil. Unfortunately, the soil in my backyard is clay, so I guess we'll find out if the flea population goes down. I usually can walk out with my socks/sandals and pickup at least 1-2 fleas every time I do that.

Are there any other better and 'natural' ways to get rid of these things if the prior two are not effective? I'm going to be planting vegetables in my small yard in raised beds soon (so I don't want to spray the yard with anything that could be toxic or leach into whatever I'm growing). I haven't set anything up yet though because I want to take care of this problem beforehand.
 

Last edited by jplee3; 11-08-12 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 11-11-12, 03:49 PM
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We donít treat yards or large outdoor expanses for fleas as it isnít necessary. Fleas and their larvae donít do well in sunny areas. Iím in the northeast. If and when we treat any exterior area for fleas it is in the areas where the pets rest such as under porches, under shrubbery, dog houses, generally always shaded areas. etc. Honestly I havenít treated an exterior area for fleas yet this season. Doesnít sound like you have pets. Maybe in Calif you can have fleas even though you donít have pets; donít know. Some photos of the insects in question would be very helpful. I know that photos of small insects are hard. Maybe take them to a local pest control office for positive ID? Keep us posted.
 
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Old 11-11-12, 03:56 PM
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PA bugman is there two kinds of DE?

Possibly he bought pool stuff and not the food grade stuff...

I use the food grade in my chicken coop and works well. No mites/fleas...etc.

Its different then the pool stuff. I used the pool stuff in my garden and it did nothing. I used the food grade stuff and it worked for various bugs....
 
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Old 11-11-12, 04:34 PM
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Good question-I didnít know there was food grade DE. The inside of a coop is a confined space, essentially a large void; I believe that you can get results that way but using it in the yard I donít think would work. There are no borders, boundaries, physical barriers etc. Insects donít respect property rights (neither do all people).
 
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Old 12-17-12, 01:36 PM
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Hey guys,

Thanks for the tips. This is definitely food grade DE btw. The little experiment I did took about a full week to complete before the fleas died. So it seems like it takes a while for it to go into effect. Not sure why it works faster for some people than for others.

Anyway, I'm still having issues in the yard. To complicate things, it's remained damp here in SoCal with occasional showers. So sprinkling DE around the yard would likely prove to be a waste, as it would probably be washed away sooner than later. I was out in the yard on Saturday, working on a raised garden bed for a while, and didn't realize until yesterday that I racked up 14 bites on my back (my wife noticed them). The yard is pretty muddy right now and there is a pile of debris (mostly clippings mixed in with rocks and dirt/mud) that I will eventually need to get rid of.

Not sure where the fleas are originating from. We do have a couple covered deck/patio areas which remain mostly dry. I've sprinkled DE around there but maybe I need to sprinkle more?

Otherwise, I'm wondering if I should just give up on the 'natural' stuff and go get some insecticide. My hesitation with this approach is that I don't want to end up spraying near, on or around the raised garden beds since I'm growing vegetables in those.

This has been such a huge PITA.
 
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Old 12-17-12, 01:58 PM
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Flea bites are typically on the lower leg/ankle. Iím having doubts that these are flea bites. If they are insect related I suspect a flying insect. Otherwise it could be an allergic reaction to a plant, etc. When we sweat our skin pores open up and allergens can affect us when they otherwise wouldnít.

I would not treat until a positive identification is made. Consider a dermatologistsí opinion too.
 
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Old 12-17-12, 02:07 PM
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Thing is, I was squatting and pretty close to the ground at times. Aren't fleas relatively mobile once they're on you? I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt - couldn't they have jumped up onto my shirt or higher on my jeans while I was squatting and crawled up from there?

The bites seem to look like flea bites: small clusters of two or three.

If it's not fleas, I honestly don't know what else it could be. If it were a flying insect, wouldn't the bites be in other places typically - like my arms and face? In this case, it was my neck and back.
 
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Old 12-17-12, 03:18 PM
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Fleas go for the quickest available food source. Humans are not their favored but will do. Lower extremities are where they go unless one is sleeping on infested furniture. The infested furniture thought brings up the idea of bed bugs too. Allergic reactions from whatever source-bites, pet hair/dander, soaps,plants/pollen, building materials, etc donít always show up right away. Could have been exposed earlier with a delayed reaction. As we age we can react to something that didnít bother us before. Everybody reacts differently to the same allergen/exposure. Consider that soap/detergent could be causing this too.

Itís unusual to get bitten by fleas to this degree and not see them. They canít bite thru a shirt so they would be between skin and shirt-also unusual. If you are bent over then your back and neck are broadly exposed to flying insects. Iím just not convinced that it is fleas but I will stand corrected if we can get some strong evidence.
 
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Old 12-17-12, 03:26 PM
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Thanks for the info! Maybe it isn't fleas after all. Of course, I was napping on the couch on Saturday afternoon and woke up itching and scratching my neck. Not sure if it's possible fleas are on the couch or if that was just a delayed-reaction from whatever went on outside.

Then again, my wife also lays on the same couch and I have not seen any bites on her.

I did find a small argentine ant crawling on the collar of my shirt. I've never known those ants to bite though. Could it be ants?
 
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Old 12-17-12, 05:04 PM
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Remember what I said earlier-different people will react (or not react) differently to the same allergen. I can get bitten by fleas but I donít react; I donít get poison ivy unless Iím sweating. Your wife is simply not having an allergic reaction to whatever is causing yours. Could still be related to the couch, laundry soap, etc.

I think that ants would inflict pain when/if they bite.

Stay very open minded and you will figure it out. Keep us posted when you do; Iím curious.
 
 

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