How are fleas getting from my deck into my house?

This question came in from Erik:

"I have 3 dogs outside in Florida. They are all treated with advantage and flea collars.  We are finding fleas allover out property and in our house and deck.  The dogs are only allowed on the screened deck not in the house.  We can't get rid of them. do you have any suggestions."
   

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My response:

Advantage is generally pretty effective, and it will kill the vast majority of fleas very quickly - but only as they come into contact with your dogs. A flea infestation can keep going indefinitely as long as the fleas have an untreated source of food. That could be you (which may keep the fleas going in your house, if they're biting you while you're asleep), or more likely, one of your neighbors might have dogs or cats as well that are keeping the fleas in your area. They can easily just migrate back over into your yard, lay a bunch of eggs around, and then die when they try to bite your dogs. But that doesn't help you much, because then you've got another batch of fleas ready to come at you and your pets in a few weeks.

As far as how they are getting into your house when they aren't allowed in there, it could be a couple of things. You might have brought one or two fleas in with you - if they jumped onto you while you were in contact with the dogs or outside, you could easily not have noticed. It only takes one to get an infestation started, and they can bite you while you sleep and survive to lay more eggs. Also, there might be a crack or way that fleas could be using to get into the house.

As far as what you should do about it, you've got the dogs taken care of, now you should focus on the environment. One very good method for treating a yard is called diatomaceous earth - a kind of soil you can spread around the yard that kills fleas because it has jagged microscopic edges that cut them, causing them to bleed to death. Get some of this and sprinkle it around the property, especially around any fencing where fleas might be coming in. It can be used indoors too (just vacuum it up after awhile), but isn't as effective there because you can't leave it out.

I would also consider putting a flea trap or two in your bedroom. You are the only source of food in the house. Flea traps work by drawing the adults in with a heat lamp. That means less bites for you, and less chance they will actually feed. Vacuum regularly, and you might apply boric acid to the carpet and floors every few days for awhile.

That will take care of the yard and the house. For the deck, wash any bedding, doghouses, etc. the dogs use thoroughly. You might dust those with diatomaceous earth as well for awhile before washing. You can dust the deck, too (it won't hurt the dogs - it's just a kind of dirt).

It might take a month or so to get rid of them. The key is to stop any NEW fleas from coming into your property. Once you have cut off the food sources (from the Advantage) the only way fleas can keep going in the long run is by having new, fully fed ones come in and lay eggs from somewhere else.  

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