Bit of an Update on Fleas

While at the vet today with my cat it seems that I am not the only one experiencing flea problems this year.  Here in the midwest we seem to be having quite a bad year for fleas.  Prior to my move this summer I had not had a problem but, alas, I do now.  I returned to my tried and true Frontline (active ingredients: fipronil and S-methoprene) but the fleas are still hanging out.  This could be due to a few things; I have not gotten rid of the resident flea population is the most likely.  Another possibility is that the fleas have developed resistance to these pesticides.  Fipronil is more of a broad use insecticide and S-methoprene is growth regulator which disrupts the growth of egg and juvenile fleas.  Odds are there is still a population of fleas somewhere in my household.  Maybe in the rug or down in the basement.  People often jump to the conclusion that pests simply become resistant and that’s why a product doesn’t work.  While this does happen it is not as common as one might think; but when it does it can be devastating.

So what will I do? My vet showed me this new flea application product called Vectra which contains dinotefuran and pyriproxyfen.  Dinotefuran is a common insecticide with demonstrated results treating other types of pest problems.  Pyriproxyfen is another type of insect growth regulator.  So what would be the point of switching if they are both essentially the same thing?  One of the key components of any integrated pest management program (IPM) is do utilize a variety of treatments from cultural, mechanical as well as chemical.  By keeping up with my cleaning and doing a thorough deep cleaning in addition to chemical treatment, perhaps alternating the type from time to time will provide the best control.

Please, keep in mind, if you try out this Vectra product, do NOT use the dog variety on your cat!  The canine variety contains permethrin which has been demonstrated to cause toxic effects in cats.  ONLY use the CAT type on your CAT!  This applies to all of these products but I just want to be clear.  Always read and follow instructions on the label.

Biology, Treatment and Control of Flea Infestations

The above paper is potentially a heavy read for some but very informative.  If you’re not up for reading all 28 pages, here is a summary of the findings.

EPA Flea Control Recommendations

One study I found seems to suggest that dinotefuran does a better job than imidacloprid as a topical insecticide on cats.  A 2009 study indicates that imidacloprid provided better control than fipronil-s-methoprene.

Hello again….Fleas!!!

I realize I have been rather lax with my postings for quite some time.  Since I’m coming upon the time when I need to be writing my thesis I shall naturally be avoiding that completely and most likely posting here more often.  So check back frequently for random insect and science related musings!  Until my next post, here are some nifty tidbits about fleas and how to deal with them.

Oh Fleas….mother fraking fleas.  My cats have them now.  It wasn’t an issue at my last few apartments but the new duplex seems to provide them a nice happy home.  Well, I like this place so why not the fleas,  right?  So what should I do?  What would you do?  What would Jesus do?

Well, I don’t know about Mr. Christ or you, but as an Entomology nerd and certified Crazy Cat Lady I set out to figure this out and by golly I did!  Frontline or Advantage is essential.  Fipronil (Frontline) and Imidacloprid (Advantage) work the best.  I personally use Frontline. Do not use any of those HARTZ things, be them the goops (Science Jargon!) or collars.  Those products are ineffective and have been linked to pet deaths and illnesses.  Yes, all products have been demonstrated to be linked to illness and deaths and this typically results in user error and stupidity.  (Lots of fleas on your cat does not mean you need need to use two, three or five treatments at once!  If you are one of those people please stop breeding.)

Ticks to be aware of. Lonestar and Black Legged Ticks are of particular concern.

**Depending upon where you live and if disease vectoring ticks are present should influence your decision on these two products.  If Black Legged Ticks are present then you will probably want to use one that effects ticks as well as fleas.**

Flea Head
Isn’t it cute!!! It must die!

I got a bit side tracked…Frontline or Advantage…yes.  There is also a pill that seems to work well.  That is step one!  Step, two…Clean Your Home!  Vacuum every carpeted and upholstered surface thoroughly.  Then do it again.  Then do it again.  If you have a canister vacuum be sure to dump it regularly.  If you have a vacuum with a bag you will need to throw away the bag between each vacuuming.  Have rugs?  Vacuum those suckers than put them outside where they can have sun exposure (if possible) but mostly so they can freeze the fleas (please note that freezing does nothing to bed bugs so do not think you can do this for them).  Sweep, dust, sterilize when able and scrub surfaces.

Step 3.  If needed here is where your chemical treatment comes in.  Flea & Bug Bombs are NOT effective at managing fleas.  We encounter the same problem when using these bombs for fleas as we do with bed bugs. They chemical works great if it gets directly on the insect but if you have a home with harborages (like say, carpet, cupboards, tables, or things with stuff) then the fleas, bed bugs ,etc will have a place to hide and be protected from the chemical.  Sure, some will bite the dust (or spray as it were) but not all and that’s what we’re going for here.

When choosing a chemical to treat your home remember this little mnemonic:

Pyrethrins: Pie is good!

Permethrin: Permanently kills your cat.  😦

Remember that Pyerethrins are more of a knockdown treatment rather than a permanent solution.  Utilize an IMP (Integrated Pest Management) approach when using it.  In other words, integrate things like cleaning your home and treating your cat/dog into the chemical treatment of your home as well.

Summary:

Step 1) Treat your pet appropriately!

Step 2) Clean your home already!

Step 3) Chemical treatment of your home and surroundings if necessary.

For more information about flea control check out this great site: FLEA CONTROL

Fun with Google Auto-Fill: Cats Edition

Increasing your sample size and conducting multiple repetitions are the best methods to avoid high standard error and decrease your standard deviation.

In an effort to avoid studying (and inspired by Vlogbrother John Green…as well as the behavior of one of my cats this morning) I shall now ask Google, “Is my cat…?” and will answer these poor Googlers who have cat issues…

Let us begin….

  • Is my cat pregnant?

Well, was (presumably) she fixed?  Was she near a male cat?  Did you hear that oh so sweet screeching sound of cats going at it?  Then yes.  But maybe you should take her to a vet or just wait it out and see what happens.

  • Is my cat sick?

This is not a question an unemotional cybernetic entity can answer.  Please try an actual vet.

 

  • Is my cat overweight?

Yes.  If you have to ask, your cat is overweight.  Cats, like humans, get fat when overfed and they spend their days playing video-games and not moving their arse.

 

  • Is my cat trying to kill me?

Yes.

In case you are wondering why your cat is plotting to kill you.

  • Is my cat lonely?

Apparently not, since it’s trying to kill you.

 

  • Is my cat retarded?

Again, apparently not since it is plotting to kill you.  However, one could argue that since you are aware of your imminent death by kitteh, perhaps your cat is a bit dim and slipped up…or maybe that’s what it wants you to think…

 

  • Is my cat in labor?

Is it a female?  Are there small moving creatures emanating from her rear?  Then yes.

 

  • Is my cat constipated?

Maybe; but at least it’s not having kittens…or is it?

 

I hope this has been insightful and helpful!  I hope to do this again soon.  Any suggestions for a question?