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Gardening with Laurie: Cedar-based products help eliminate fleas

April 7, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 6, 2010 at 11:07 p.m.


By Laurie Garretson We all know that hot weather is just a few weeks away. The mild spring temperatures are soon to become a thing of the past. If only it could be spring all year long.

With warm temperatures comes the onslaught of insects. In fact, many gardeners are already battling several types of pests.

Pill bugs and snails are the biggest complaints.

Remember, we organic gardeners do not have to use dangerous chemicals to get rid of the pests in yards or homes. We do have natural alternatives to get rid of all kinds of problem insects.

The warm, humid climate is what many of the unwanted insects love.

Unfortunately, we happen to live in a high-prevalence area of the country for fleas and several other pests. Very soon the flea population will again become a problem for many people.

Don't think you have to own a pet to be bothered by them. These little blood-suckers can easily hop over from the neighbors' yards and soon set up camp in your yard or house.

One of the best natural preventatives for controlling fleas, ants, grub worms and chinch bugs are beneficial nematodes. These good guys are easy to apply to your lawn and will immediately go to work for you, killing all types of bad creatures in your soil.

Another helpful natural product that's safe to use in your landscape and in your home are cedar-based products.

Cedar products work by attacking the fleas breathing system, yet are harmless to humans and pets.

Cedar-based insecticides have been used by the U.S. Army as a greener alternative to chemical insecticides to kill sand fleas in the Middle East.

Most of the chemical products used today to kill fleas are made to attack the fleas' nervous system.

We have nervous systems, too. How do you think these types of products affect us?

Most of the pest insects have already developed immunities to chemical insecticides, so they don't work very well. And many pets can be very sensitive to chemical and drug treatments, especially cats.

One of the best controls you can use to rid your home of fleas, larvae and eggs is your vacuum cleaner. Do you realize that only about 10 percent of your flea population lives on a pet? The other 90 percent lives in your carpets, living areas and bedding.

Vacuuming your home on a regular basis, along with the natural insecticides, can help eliminate flea infestations.

Vacuum every other day and then throw away the vacuum bag.

Flea collars are commonly used to kill fleas on cats and dogs. Flea collars work in one of two ways, by either emitting a toxic gas that only effects adult fleas in the immediate area of the collar or by being absorbed into the pets subcutaneous fat layer just under the skin.

Neither of these methods are very effective and many pets, especially cats, do not tolerate flea collars well.

Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) is another natural product that can be added to your flea elimination program. This product is used in the yard, the home and on animals.

In fact, the food grade D.E. can be added to your pets' food to help with worm and parasites.

Controlling fleas has to be a multi-approach treatment to be effective. There's just not a quick, easy one-step method. Treatment has to include the yard, home and all pets.

Natural products can work to safely rid your life of unwanted pests, so being outdoors can be a good thing.

Until next time, let's try to work with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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