War on fleas!

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Old 11-13-18, 07:34 PM
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War on fleas!

Hi guys! Been battling the vacant house flea problem for the first time....and hopefully the last. I got a lot of good info on an older post from 2015, but them found a more recent one. My rental became vacant on Sept 17th. As soon as I walked into the house I realized the real reason my tenants were in such a hurry to move. Fleas! Lots of fleas! To give an idea of what Iím dealing with here...they had 3 large fluffy dogs, the pen gave them access to a deck attached to the house with crawl space height from the ground. Under that deck is an old opening to the basement. Cellar type entrance as this house was built in the 1800s. From what I am finding, the basement is the epicenter of the infestation. I have since Sept 17 set off several rounds of flea bombs, some with 2 cans in each room since it is a large house. Did this 3 separate times. After learning about everything there is to know about fleas I contacted a duct cleaning service and also had them steam clean all the floors....no carpet, all hardwood and vinyl. Then sprayed each and every room with Black Flag Flea &Tick with IGR Nylar. Treated the outside areas with Black Flag yard spray to get the deck and under the front porch real good. Also sprayed the basement really good including the crawl space under part of the house. Left for a week, then vacuumed the entire house...still fleas. Called in a pro, he treated the entire house, basement and outside. He used 3 containers of chemicals. Stayed out of the house for 21 days under his advisement. Went back in and they were on me instantly. So then major vacuuming again...cracks, crevasses, the works, sprayed again. Then the dreaded basement...that basement hadnít been cleaned like that for at least 90 years...vacuumed, sprayed and put out diamatatuoius earth back in the crawl space part. I put a flea trap down there to monitor the situation. Also put nemotodes outside under the deck and around where the dogs were. I had been going up there every few days to do a self sacrifice and run the vacuum to entice the buggers to hatch. I had been up there working for most of the week with no sign of fleas upstairs. Occasionally I would check the trap in the basement...only saw 2 for the week. However, today there were several in the trap in the basement. So, tomorrow, you guessed it...vacuum the basement again, spray and put out more diametacious earth. The hard part about this basement...perfect breeding ground...dark, damp with lots of cracks and crevices. Not sure what else to do...now Iím afraid they are gonna move upstairs again. This had been going on now for almost 2 months
 
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Old 11-13-18, 07:43 PM
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War on fleas!

Side note FYI, since pretty much coming home with fleas on me and in my hair every time I would go up there to work, I found that Dawn dish detergent is great for killing fleas....lather up, shampoo and wait for 5 minutes to rinse. You could see the dead fleas in the bottom of the shower while rinsing.
 
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Old 11-14-18, 07:40 AM
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I'm too lazy to read that over sized paragraph. Do you have a short version?
 
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Old 11-14-18, 08:08 AM
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Helps to have paragraphs, too. Hard to read one long, long never ending sentence.
 
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Old 11-14-18, 10:15 AM
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Sorry all, hard to do paragraphs on a smart phone

Hi guys! Been battling the vacant house flea problem for the first time....and hopefully the last. I got a lot of good info on an older post from 2015, but them found a more recent one.

My rental became vacant on Sept 17th. As soon as I walked into the house I realized the real reason my tenants were in such a hurry to move. Fleas! Lots of fleas! To give an idea of what Iím dealing with here...they had 3 large fluffy dogs, the pen gave them access to a deck attached to the house with crawl space height from the ground. Under that deck is an old opening to the basement. Cellar type entrance as this house was built in the 1800s.

From what I am finding, the basement is the epicenter of the infestation. I have since Sept 17 set off several rounds of flea bombs, some with 2 cans in each room since it is a large house. Did this 3 separate times. After learning about everything there is to know about fleas I contacted a duct cleaning service and also had them steam clean all the floors....no carpet, all hardwood and vinyl. Then sprayed each and every room with Black Flag Flea &Tick with IGR Nylar. Treated the outside areas with Black Flag yard spray to get the deck and under the front porch real good. Also sprayed the basement really good including the crawl space under part of the house. Left for a week, then vacuumed the entire house...still fleas.

Called in a pro, he treated the entire house, basement and outside. He used 3 containers of chemicals. Stayed out of the house for 21 days under his advisement. Went back in and they were on me instantly. So then major vacuuming again...cracks, crevasses, the works, sprayed again. Then the dreaded basement...that basement hadnít been cleaned like that for at least 90 years...vacuumed, sprayed and put out diamatatuoius earth back in the crawl space part. I put a flea trap down there to monitor the situation. Also put nemotodes outside under the deck and around where the dogs were.

I had been going up there every few days to do a self sacrifice and run the vacuum to entice the buggers to hatch. I had been up there working for most of the week with no sign of fleas upstairs. Occasionally I would check the trap in the basement...only saw 2 for the week. However, today there were several in the trap in the basement.

So, today, you guessed it...vacuum the basement again, spray and put out more diametacious earth. The hard part about this basement...perfect breeding ground...dark, damp with lots of cracks and crevices.

Not sure what else to do...now Iím afraid they are gonna move upstairs again. This had been going on now for almost 2 months
 
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Old 11-14-18, 11:17 AM
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I would spray with something like Fenva Star (Esfenvalerate) with an insect growth regulator (IGR) like Tekko Pro. DE and nematodes might work but I prefer chemical methods which I've found to be faster and more reliable. Keep up your vacuuming several times a week to get the eggs to hatch as most chemicals have no affect on unhatched eggs.
 
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Old 11-14-18, 12:45 PM
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Thanks Pilot Dane! Iíll try the products you suggested.

Vacuumed the entire house again, including basement. Sprayed the Black Flag with Nylar in the basement. Walls, floor and as far back as I could get in the crawl space part of the basement. Put out a fresh flea trap sticky to see how it goes.

Was in there several hours so I know they were coming out, I could see them crawling on me as I worked.

Off to go lather in Dawn dish detergent so I donít infest my house.
 
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Old 11-14-18, 02:51 PM
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The FenvaStar is a good one. If you don't have or don't want to use a compressed air sprayer, this is a good aerosol that is popular in the industry for fleas.
https://www.domyown.com/pt-alpine-fl...ol-p-1886.html

We would ask customers to wait for 10-14 days after treatment before re-assessing about re-treatment. This was for occupied houses. Vacant units do require someone to "self-sacrifice" as you've done. That is a good thing that many don't do or know about.

Your house has been treated more often than it should have. I don't know if the insecticides are ineffective or just not getting to where they need to be. On the occasions that I had repeated and non-typical failures, it would be because of unusual or odd circumstances such as around the underside of a sump pump lid, floor vents that had compacted pet hair/dander (also under refrigerators), lots of cracks and crevices in wooden floors, sleeper sofas that I didn't identify as such until too late, etc.

DE and nematodes are not used by the pest control industry as they are not effective in flea treatments.

Failure to control insects in general is because the insecticides don't get to where they should be assuming that proper insecticdes are being used.

Is there any furniture left in the house? Any carpeting at all, area rugs, etc?
 
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Old 11-14-18, 03:09 PM
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When I have to work in an infested home or out in the forest I treat my clothes with permethrin. I mix up a 1/2% solution and spray my clothes until they are thoroughly damp. Then let them air dry in a place with good ventilation. This is especially effective against mosquitoes and ticks.

Before entering the infected house I roll down my socks, tuck my pants into my socks, then roll the socks up. Tuck your shirt into your pants. This way as insects climb up your legs they are led from one layer of clothing onto another layer of clothing and not onto your skin. If you don't tuck your pants in bugs can climb up your socks and onto your leg without ever touching your pants.

If it's warm where you are and you're wearing shorts. Spray your legs, socks and shoes with DEET. That does a good job keeping fleas off you.
 
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Old 11-14-18, 06:58 PM
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There is no furniture in the house. No curtains or other soft materials. The floors are all hardwood with vinyl in the kitchen and bathrooms.

I did the sock thing today and cruised around the first floor, no fleas. Headed to the basement to treat again. The thing about this basement is...being a very old house, there are several things down there that would be impossible to remove. An old boiler furnace, freezer from the 40s. I honestly donít know how they got them down there. However, a spot in the floor that looked like someone cut a hole in it and replaced it years ago gives me a clue.

As for another problem with this basement. The crawl space part goes about 20 feet to the front part of the house and is just as wide. There are what looks like old ductwork laying around up in there. Did my best to spray up in there but know I didnít get it as good as it should be. There is also the base of the chimney blocking it also. Itís gonna be extremely difficult to get up in there.

I also have sprayed into the ductwork that has be professionally cleaned. No appliances to deal with either. Thank goodness!

I will check Friday to see if my trap caught any more fleas in the basement.
 
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Old 11-15-18, 06:15 AM
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Flea pupae cases will not hatch until a host is available. Their maturities can be staggered. No insecticide available will penetrate or destroy the pupae cases. Vacuuming and steaming would remove them of course, so I suspect that there are places that aren't accessible for these treatments. Common in a house of this age. The growth regulators that you used should work in the long run. Keep "self-sacrificing" to keep the attrition aspect going.

Obviously the dogs had access to the basement and probably spent a lot of time down there. I wonder if pet hair and dander are collected around underside of furnace and the freezer. Unless someone is directing the sprays to those areas then it isn't going there.
Are there panels that can be removed from the furnace that would give you access to the underside, at least the underside perimeter? Can the freezer at least be moved off the spot to facilitate cleaning and spraying?

Another possibility though remote is that of a flea ridden animal sneaking into the crawl space. Is it possible that underneath the deck there is a burrow or other type of access where this may be happening?

Keep us posted.
 
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Old 11-16-18, 02:44 PM
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Did a walkthrough in the house today...I wear rubber boots so I can saturate them before my walk. That has been successful in the past as they want to crawl up.

Didínt see any in the first floor or the basement. There were no fleas in the flea trap down there either 😃. I did set some mousetraps down there....one caught. As for any other animal activity, there seems to be none. I did see some spiders down there. As I understand they eat fleas too?

I will continue the self sacrifice thing every other day. Next week I plan on moving the freezer and deal with the furnace. I did spray in those 2 things about 3 weeks ago.

It seems like they present in about a week turn around, so expect to see more next week. The battle continues.....
 

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Old 11-16-18, 03:02 PM
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Question for PAbugman....the spray that I am using with Nylar. It states that it provides 7 months control, Iím assuming it is residual so I donít have to spray the same place twice....or is it 7 month control due to the Nylar or both?

Iím spraying a lot of the same places twice. Since the basement has moisture issues, Iím trying to make sure itís not getting diluted.

The active ingredients are Gamma-Cyhalothrin .01%, Pyriproxyfen .01%

Iíve also heard that fleas can become immune to pesticides so you have to switch it up so probably going to go with The aerosol spray next.
 
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Old 11-16-18, 03:16 PM
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Are you using a fresh vacuum cleaner bag with each visit and taking the old one, covering the hole with tape and putting it in the trash? This will prevent the ones you vacuumed up from getting back into the house.
 
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Old 11-16-18, 03:47 PM
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Using a shop vac and bag less upright. After each use I burn the contents and spray the inside of the tank along with up the hoses. Also the beater bar on the upright. I also burn the filters and replace them.
 
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Old 11-16-18, 04:17 PM
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It sounds like you have turned the corner. Don't be surprised or discouraged if you see a few late hatchers soon.

The IGR, in this case Nylar, keeps the larvae (tiny worms hatching from the eggs) from turning into the pupae, which is the pre-adult stage. The 7 month residual means that if the larvae crawl over or are contacted by the nylar, then they won't turn into pupae and eventually adults. The larvae don't crawl very far so that is why it's important to be thorough. The residual insecticde (not the Nylar) won't last 7 months. Monthly spraying wouldn't bother me at all if you are still seeing some.

Unfinished concrete floors can actually absorb insecticide which greatly reduces the residual life. That combined with the basements moisture would have me leaning toward more frequent treatment as you have noted. Gamma-cyhalothrin would be one of the better insecticides to use on unfinished concrete as it is a micro-capsulation, though if it is aerosol form I'm not sure if it is still a micro-cap.

Does the label of the product that you are using allow for interior flea treatment? When I read the Optimate (same active) label it was for outdoor only. There are better flea products as was posted earlier.

It does sound like you are getting control. Fleas and bed bugs are physically demanding treatments as well as chemically intensive. It's more difficult than most diy pest control.
 
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Old 11-16-18, 08:22 PM
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Yes, the product I am using is Black Flag Flea & Tick Home Treatment. It states on the container that it can be used everywhere. Comes in a gallon jug with a hand held pump spray so it is easy to use.

Before it got cold out, I also used the Black Flag Plus yard treatment to treat under the deck and porch as well as the perimeter spanning the area within 15 feet from the house including spraying the foundation for good measure.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, as it has been one of the hardest things that I have had to deal with. Time, effort, money and chemicals.
 
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Old 11-17-18, 03:52 AM
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I don't think you can effectively treat as large an area as your doing with a little hand squeeze bottle. I imagine you are getting spotty coverage as you squeeze the spray trigger. I would switch to one of the products we previously mentioned and use a compressed air sprayer. The sprayers are sold online and in most home centers. They can hold several gallons and provide a much better spray pattern.

I also guess that you are not applying enough product. If you are buying it in one gallon ready to use bottles. When I'm treating a house thoroughly infested with fleas I'm spraying gallons. If there are nooks & crannies and cracks in the floor I'm applying even heavier to get the liquid down into the cracks.
 
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