Help me get through a flea bombing
June 15, 2012 5:19 AM   Subscribe

Help me prep for setting off flea bombs.

My cat has fleas. She's now on Frontline, having been treated with a flea wash and an oral capsule (forgot the name) by the vet. It's time to set off the bombs, but I'm freaking out.

Do I remove all the bedding? Do I cover the kitchen counters? The package says that the stove's pilot light should be turned off and I should contact my gas utility provider to find out how to shut off the gas! REALLY? this seems insane.

We have two floors, so I'm planning to put the cat on one floor while I bomb the other and wait the three hours (one hour for the bombing to occur and then two before we return), and then do the same for the other floor. We'll put plastic on computers, printers, etc.

We are messy people and putting EVERYTHING away before we bomb seems like an impossible task. I assume every bit of clothing needs to be put away.

Last night I sprayed around with a spray made by the same company, but then in bed a live flea said hello to me on my leg, so I can see that just spraying isn't enough.

Please give me any tips to survive this bombing. and tell me it's necessary (I've read prior posts that assert the necessity of this to really rid ourselves of these pests.)
posted by DMelanogaster to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't help with the flea bomb, since I don't use them (do you really need to if you used a good spray properly? It can take a while to kill all the fleas in a really bad infestation, regardless of what you use, so I might give what you've already done some time to work, assuming you've used the products properly - I would recommend you use Vet Kem or Zodiac products, not the usual Sargent's et al crap they have in most pet stores, or better yet have an exterminator come), but please make sure your cat stays on Frontline for at least 4 months, if not longer, and please make sure you treat her for tapeworms, since fleas are an integral part of the tapeworm life cycle and where you have one, you very often have the other.
posted by biscotti at 5:25 AM on June 15, 2012

I did this a few weeks ago. I live on the top floor of a duplex. I have NO PETS. The tenants downstairs had cats, but assured me that their cats had no fleas, but I was getting bitten, mostly at night. The women downstairs moved out and, oh yes, there were fleas. We bombed the downstairs before a new tenant moved in. I bombed my apartment the same day. I did turn off the gas, I put all food (and spices) that wasn't in cans or sealed jars in the fridge, washed all bedding and left it in the well-sealed dryer. Vacuumed and dumped the contents in outdoor trashcan.

Guess what? It didn't work, within a couple of days I found fleas again.

My landlord is a good friend and an architect. He was adamant that the gas be turned off to do this. He's agreed to get an exterminator the next time I complain about the situation.

The new tenant has four cats, and since she moved in I haven't seen any fleas; I suspect they've found her cats.
posted by mareli at 5:37 AM on June 15, 2012

The package says that the stove's pilot light should be turned off and I should contact my gas utility provider to find out how to shut off the gas! REALLY? this seems insane.

Do you know where your other pilot light(s) are? Where's your water heater live?
posted by pompomtom at 5:52 AM on June 15, 2012

There should be a simple gas shut-off at the gas meter. You might need a big wrench. newer gas appliances don't have pilot lights.
posted by mareli at 5:56 AM on June 15, 2012

If you don't want to do this, you don't have to. My best friend lives in a ground floor apartment and is scrupulously clean, but there are feral cats (gah, the colony is just. . .I'm a crazy cat lady and I think they need to be dealt with, it's too much, they're unhealthy . .anyway) -- and that means that the flea population in her general vicinity is just too much. On top of that her upstairs neighbor is part of the "feed the ferals" club . .so fleas more or less just get tracked into the apt and find her cat. This is what she's done, as reconstructed from the daily blow-by-blow:

1) Frontline, applied religiously (seriously it's marked on her calendar)
2) Capstar, a couple times, to nuke the ones on the cat
3) Flea powder on the rugs, vacuum
4) Vacuum like it's a religion, and CHANGE YOUR BAG or put the trash with the fleas in it out RIGHT AWAY
5) Fleacomb the cat every day
6) Exterminator.
7) anything that can stand it in a very hot wash/dry cycle

It takes time, but she really didn't want to use the bombs, and it seems to be under control now.

Good luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:01 AM on June 15, 2012

When I was in college our house had fleas from a couch we brought in off the porch. They were EVERYWHERE, jumping around, in our cars, etc. This is probably bad advice, but we flea bombed the heck out of the house and didn't do anything to prepare. I think we ended up doing it two or three times, with multiple bombs, before we finally got rid of them. Being college kids, we didn't turn off the pilot light, cover anything, etc. We bombed in conjunction with pouring flea powder on EVERYTHING. It worked and our house didn't blow up.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 6:31 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you don't want to fleabomb and can keep up with the Frontline religiously eventually the fleas should die out. Cat fleas don't want to live on humans and Frontline will kill the adults, you just have to wait for the next round of eggs to hatch and the fleas to get killed by the Frontline. It can take a few months in total to break the cycle, but as long as you keep up the drops you should be OK. I have heard rumours that fleas in some areas of the US are becoming resistant to Frontline and that Advantage is better in those areas but you might want to ask your vet about that.

Where I used to live fleas were basically a year around problem and we had numerous cats and dogs and Frontline worked for us to keep it well under control. One really bad infestation I got a carpet spray and sprayed all the carpet and washed all the pet bedding in super hot water and picked up my game making sure to put on flea drops every 6 weeks (I think 4 is what is recommended in the US). After that though we'd find the odd flea they had picked up on walks or what ever. Just be very careful of over dosing your cat, you can get serious neurological problems very easily with too much Frontline (or Advantage), more is not better follow the instructions carefully.

The best way to get rid of fleas is steady constant attack, most sprays just work on one life stage so you have to reuse them to get rid of the fleas, so every week or so you have to treat again as eggs hatch. Also I found that dying fleas seem to go nuts and bite more, but that could just be subjective on my part but if I was going to get a flea on me it was after putting on the drops.
posted by wwax at 7:38 AM on June 15, 2012

I am currently dealing with the exact same issue. Cat developed a bad flea infestation due to an ill-advised experiment with an off-brand flea treatment (Costco's version of Frontline) and so we brought him into the vet a couple of days ago to have him treated with Frontline Plus and Capstar. We then called a local "green" pest removal company as suggested by the vet.

But when the pest guy came out for an inspection yesterday he advised against bombing the house and said the better course would be to let the Frontline do its thing for a while. The situation had improved dramatically just in the day since the treatment and there were many fewer fleas visible on the cat and in the house (he didn't see any actually but I've found a few in their death throes). He told us that Frontline is often enough to control the problem as long as you keep up with the drops. He also advised vacuuming the house every day and a regular wash of any bedding etc the cat comes in contact with. We are planning on spending some of the money we would have spent on the pest removal service on a thorough wash and groom of the cat by professionals to get rid of the nasty flea dirt.

We may live to regret this course of action, of course, and the vet did suggest treating the house to make sure the fleas are completely gone. But we're going to let it go for a month and see what happens. Good luck!
posted by otio at 10:08 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Flea eggs will lie dormant for a long time then hatch when they feel vibrations or heat (animals returning for them to feed on). So vacuum the floors every day for several days leading up to the bombing, it makes a huge difference. Otherwise the insecticide will kill the live fleas but not the eggs, then you're back where you started. It can also be useful to bomb, then keep stomping around and vacuuming and stuff then bomb again a couple of weeks later to get rid of any remainder.

Also consider using Revolution or Advantage instead of Frontline. There have been anecdotal reports of Frontline resistance all over the world, my vet friends have seen it (NZ and the UK) and I have definitely seen it first hand with my cats (went from killing most of the fleas to killing less of the fleas to totally ineffective over the course of a summer). We had an ongoing flea problem including fleas in the furnishings, finally switching to Revolution got rid of them really effectively. We used it twice a month apart then were able to go to every three months to keep the cats flea-free (the cats were allowed outside and picked up fleas out there) and never had problems with fleas in the bed again. (This paragraph in past tense because now I live somewhere cold enough that there are no fleas.)

Bombing can be really helpful to reduce the infestation if it's bad. No amount of treating the cats was going to help the house we moved into that had fleas all through the carpet before we got there, and bombing did work. But if you just have some fleas on your cat then an effective drop on the neck treatment should be all you need.
posted by shelleycat at 10:48 AM on June 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you. We keep finding fleas on ourselves, a couple at a time. So I think we'd better BOMB.

I will ask the vet if he thinks the Frontline is going to be totally effective (re: what others have said about Advantage etc.)

And will keep vacuuming.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:33 PM on June 15, 2012

Response by poster: I'm sorry but I'm reading all this again and I still would like to know if we have to put *everything* away before we bomb: clocks? books on tables? all clothing? (will we die if the bomb chemical gets on our clothing?) Telephones that are on tables? (landlines) Computers, printers, papers?
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:22 AM on June 16, 2012

We didn't put much away. We did make sure that anything used in food preparation or serving was tightly shut in the cupboard, as well as the cat's food bowls etc, but that's it. And I probably wiped the kitchen benches before cooking again but I generally do that anyway. Basically anything I wouldn't usually get fly spray on (when I use fly spray) was put away, everything else was fine.

You probably want to remove and hot wash things like bedding anyway since flea eggs can get in there and lay eggs, so might as well do it all at the same time. I'd probably consider going as far as putting a sheet over our computers and stuff, but mainly so they don't get anything on the monitors because that's a pain to clean off.

will we die if the bomb chemical gets on our clothing?)

No, it's just insecticide (like a more flea-specific, more widespread fly spray). Not great to breath in, but generally not terribly toxic to mammals. Read the instructions and you'll be good.
posted by shelleycat at 6:12 AM on June 16, 2012

Flea bombs don't work. Period. They don't. I don't care what the salespeople and exterminators tell you; they're the bug equivalent of bear-repelling sticks.

I had a severe flea infestation in a house I bought once. It was so bad the exterminators bragged about it to one another ("Oh, yeah, I heard about this place.").

I learned that fleas like to lay their eggs in cool, humid places. I put on goggles and worthless clothes, filled a pump herbacide sprayer with 50/50 bleach water (TOO STRONG, BTW!), and inundated my kitchen, mudroom, and basement.

Then, I vacated the place for a few hours, and blew fans through when I returned.

All but a handful were dead when I returned. The rest disappeared within days, never to return.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: Follow-up: We bombed. It didn't do much. We called the exterminator. He and two of his assistants came and put on their hazmat suits (that's what they looked like, anyway) and steam-vacuumed the place and then put pesticides along with chemicals that make them sterile all over the house. We and the cat had to vacate for three hours.

This was two days ago. I just got a bite on my arm. We'll call him back on Monday (he said he might need to come again to finish them off.)

What an ordeal.
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:27 PM on June 23, 2012

« Older Arabic for Reading?   |   attractive and affordable barn door hardware for... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.