Natural, Botanical Flea & Tick Control

FRIENDS, I wrote this last year, but am sad to say we need it even more this year. I have had ticks everywhere this year- and Lyme disease is a very real concern. SO I am posting this again. These remedies require a bit of effort but they are truly effective. The blog really addresses fleas, but tick control is similar.

Ticks: Harder to kill than fleas, and care must be taken to apply botanical insecticide several times weekly this year. I use the Best Yet Cedar Insecticide every day on myself, and 2-3 times weekly on my dog. I use a Botanical Tick Shield when I am going to spend the day outside hiking, camping or otherwise being in nature. Tick Shield has 2x the organic Cedar oil, and repels the nasty critters quite well. Use the recommendations below for treating bedding & carpets to keep ticks from living in the house. Spray your own bed too, especially if pets sleep with you or in your bed during the day. Here is a video demonstrating the effectiveness of Botanical Bug Spray against ticks. Click the link to watch.

Botanical Bug Spray vs. Tick

Fleas: This year has been a bumper crop year! The frequent rains & hot temperatures have everything growing like mad. Including the bugs. Mosquitos, ticks & fleas are the worst I have experienced them in years. Many of you have called me looking for a natural alternative to ridding your home of fleas- which travel in on you and your pets and can be extremely hard to get rid of once they are established. So today I will share with you my tested and effective flea control methods- without using a single drop of neurotoxic chemical pesticide.

 

A little about fleas first. Did you know that there are several types of flea, and each has a preferred host? There are dog fleas, cat fleas, human fleas, rat fleas and fleas that prefer fowl. These fleas will bite others if their preferred host is not available. Fleas can jump up to 7″ vertically and over a foot horizontally- which makes them very mobile! They easily move from host to host, host to person, and host to HOUSE. Flea saliva contains chemicals that can cause a severe itch response in some animals and humans. This is known as flea bite dermatitis, and can lead to infection if scratching or biting the area is intense. However, some people have fleas in the house and never get bitten- or simply have no reaction to flea bites. Did you also know that fleas are a host for tapeworms? Tapeworm eggs travel inside the adult flea, and if the flea is accidentally swallowed or inhaled by an animal while licking or chewing , the animal then may become infected with tapeworms. The animal also becomes a host for tapeworms. And if that animal is YOUR PET, you may also be exposed to tapeworms. Yuck. Finally, flea eggs can lay dormant in your home for months, just waiting for their preferred host to arrive. Let’s get rid of them NOW.

 

Flea dirt

How do you know if you have fleas in your home or on your pet? Watch for frantic scratching, digging and biting from your pets. Using your fingers, comb the hair backward around their rump, base of tail or tummy, where fleas love to live. Fleas are tiny brown spots that move quickly, and they leave small black dried blood spots in your pets fur. These tiny dots of dried blood are called “flea dirt” and is often the most noticeable sign of flea infestation. If your pet has flea dirt but you don’t see any fleas? THEY HAVE FLEAS. And fleas lay 20 to 50 eggs a day- which roll off the host onto bedding, carpets and furniture. If your dog has fleas- you have fleas. Get over it. You are not dirty or bad… you just have fleas.

 

SO! Here are some things to know about killing fleas. Firstly, they are very hard to crush. No matter how hard you squeeze, you cannot kill them, you must use your nails to break them. Yuck. Fleas need moisture to survive and prefer around 70-80% humidity. Without adequate hydration they struggle to live. Immersion in water, however, drowns fleas quickly. Armed with this knowledge, we begin our treatment.

 

Give your pet a bath in warm water with shampoo. ANY shampoo will do- it is the water that drowns the fleas. I do not use flea shampoos as I think the chemicals are dangerous and they are no more effective. The flea shampoos say they repel fleas up to 3 months, and I have found this to be false. I use tearless baby or pet shampoo on my animal’s head & face so that I can get right around the eyes. If you do not soap up the face, the fleas will actually pool around the eyes in an attempt to escape. Gross. I use a diluted castile soap on the body- Dr. Bronners Lavender Castile works well and has the added benefit of soothing any sore, bitten areas. The other blends work well too, choose your favorite scent.  Use about 1/4 cup in a quart of water. Let the pet stand for 5-10 minutes in the shampoo. Rinse well. Watch the dead fleas run down the drain. In the meantime, wash every sheet, towel, comforter, blanket and throw rug that you can fit in the washer. Use warm or hot water. OK you have now killed most of the live fleas. But what about flea eggs and fleas still living in the house and yard?

 

Enter 3 flea killing friends: Best Yet Cedar Insecticide , boric acid powder & diatomaceous earth. These 3 inexpensive, non toxic ingredients will keep your home & pet flea free. Maybe you have heard of these- but it is important to know how to use them. Here we go. Go to your local dollar store follow provided links and buy a plastic bottle of roach powder. It is often called Roach Prufe or similar. Read the ingredients- it should be almost 100% boric acid. It should cost a few dollars. If you buy boric acid at the hardware store it will be 2 to 3 times as much money to buy. While at the dollar/online store, buy one of those glass cheese shaker top jars. Take your bottles home. Open the boric acid and for each cup of powder you use, add 1 tablespoon of Best Yet Cedar Insecticide. Shake this up well and put into your shaker top jar. Shake this powder over every surface of the home. Carpets, under the furniture cushions, cracks of hardwood floors. Take a broom and sweep the powder into the surfaces so it is well-distributed. Leave for 24 hours then vacuum it all up. (I actually just leave the powder under the seat cushions of my furniture) Now take your spray bottle of Best Yet and spray the baseboards, your closets, any vertical surface that the powder will not adhere to. Do this once a week for several weeks. No more fleas. The boric acid dehydrates the fleas, and the cedar insecticide suffocates them. Boric acid has the same toxicity as table salt- so while it is relatively harmless, do not let children and pets lick or lay in a concentrated amount of it. It is not tasty, they won’t purposely seek it out. Don’t get stuck on this point- boric acid is hundreds of times less toxic than chemical flea sprays, bombs and powders. This carpet/floor treatment will also kill ticks, carpet beetles, roaches, spiders and anything else that dares to crawl around your home.

 

Now back to the pets. Kitty & puppy are all dry and clean from the bubble bath. But without protection, they will simply go back outside and bring back more fleas. With your new & continued boric acid and cedar insecticide flooring treatment, the fleas will not survive in the house. Remember to wash the pet’s bedding often. But the fleas will still dine happily on you and your pets. Boric acid is, in my opinion, to harsh for direct application onto a pet’s skin. But Best Yet Cedar Insecticide and diatomaceous earth are very gentle and totally non toxic to pets- even if they lick and chew after application. Those flea drops that you spread onto your animal’s neck? They are proving to be very dangerous. Google it if you want to see. I won’t press that point.  Often a good wetting down of your pets coat with cedar insecticide spray is all that you will need to keep fleas away. Wet the pet’s coat down, covering all areas, once weekly during the hot summer months, less during the winter.  It is so gentle you can use it on puppies and kittens, as well as your kids and yourself to keep mosquitos and ticks away. (always test a small amount on cats and kittens first- they are very sensitive!) [Note: As of 3/11/16: CedarCide, the manufacturer of Best Yet, has recently marked a few of their products as “not for use on cats”. Best Yet is now known as “Original Formula” and is still approved by CedarCide for use on cats. Read this link] Apply directly to exposed skin and clothing. I practically BATHE in this stuff- the mosquitos LOVE me. You can buy this by following provided links. It smells great, works great, and can be used for so many of your buggy problems.

Some pets, though, need a little extra protection. Just like with people, some dogs and cats seem more prone to attract fleas than others. For these pets, we will kick it up a notch. Go to your local pet store follow these links and buy some diatomaceous earth (DE) that is made for pet application. It looks a lot like flour.  If you wish to treat your yard, buy some additional DE for lawn & garden use and follow the directions to treat the yard. Do not use lawn & garden DE on your pets. For the pets: Mix 1 cup of organic food grade DE powder with 1 tablespoon of Cedar Insecticide. Mix well and sprinkle over your pets coat, rubbing the powder in well. Use extra in the places the fleas like to live: tail, rear, and belly. You may even sprinkle a bit of this into your pets ears for ear mites. Do this outside or over a towel to keep the floor clean. I have found this powder to be foolproof, even during the height of flea season! And again, totally non toxic. Apply as needed- I apply once weekly during the hot summer months.

I hope you try these simple and effective natural flea treatments. They are better for your pets, your family, your wallet and our beautiful planet. Please leave a note with questions or comments. Hugs~

19 thoughts on “Natural, Botanical Flea & Tick Control”

  1. Great article! We have been invaded by fleas in our house, and we don’t even have any pets! We have tried every flea bomb and spray with no relief, I can tell you definately are the flea doctor, and this weekend I will follow your instructions to a T!

  2. Is the DE you link to actually “food-grade”? Any other grade is dangerous to use in the house. I don’t see the grade of the DE mentioned, so it may not be food-grade. There are many high-quality food-grade brands of DE. Just google.

    Cedar oil, and essential oils in general, are toxic to cats. They can cause liver or kidney failure, even if the oil is not directly applied to the cat. Inhaling vapors is an efficient way to get the oil into the body. Cats lack a liver enzyme that most mammals have which lets us break down EOs so they can be excreted from the body. Without that enzyme, EOs can build up to a toxic level. I would not use any strong oil, such as cedar oil, around a cat or in a cat’s home. Cats can die from liver or kidney failure caused by EOs.

    And cedar oil, among other oils, can trigger seizures in dogs if they are prone to seizures. You need to add precautions to your advice here. Please be responsible.

    1. In the blog I caution users to purchase food grade DE, yes that is important. Amazon changes their links often, so please follow the advice and get food grade DE as suggested.
      As far as cats go, they are very sensitive animals in general. Not all cats will react to Cedar essential oils. It is good to always test for sensitivities in our two and four legged family members. Just because something is natural does NOT mean a person or animal will not have a reaction. However, when an infestation occurs, it cannot simply be ignored. I still choose natural…
      With that said, cats can be sensitive to everyday household use chemicals and cleaners and commercial flea/tick products as well. I credit reader’s intelligence to understand that if an animal or person shows a reaction to any substance, it should be discontinued, or the animal/person temporarily removed while the infestation is handled.
      So there you go! Thanks for your judicious comment.

      1. Amala, if you mean diatomaceous earth, you can buy it at Amazon.com, and sometimes you can find it at feed stores or garden centers. If you are using it on your animals you should ensure that the product you buy says “food grade” on the packaging.

  3. Help! Have just found out our newly purchased home has a flea infestation. I am trying to find the powdered Best Yet Cedar Insecticide ( to mix with the boric acid) but can find only the liquid and an Amazon review warned me away from its seller saying the product was severly diluted. Thanks for any assistance- Linda

    1. Hi Linda, I don’t think there is a powdered form. I have noted that the company that sells the “Best Yet” has changed owenership. Perhaps they changed the formula as well- I am not sure. You can use essential oils in place of the Best Yet. You can find essential oils at most health food stores and online. PLEASE NOTE that essential oils are not actually oil, but highly concentrated plant extracts. You can use them safely in most cases at a rate of 30 drops per cup of boric acid. Please use 100% pure Cedarwood essential oil. Greenpaws.org states that Cedarwood essential oil is a safer oil if you have cats. This has been debated (including in previous comments here) so use safely and at your discretion if you have cats… OR remove them from the house while you treat.

  4. Could I use borax powder for my mattress? I’m moving and I’m trying to make sure I do it right so I don’t bring them to my new living space

    1. Yes, strip the bed and use the boric acid/essential oil mix on all sides of the mattress. Let sit for at least 24 hours and vacuum up any loose powder. Please note that you need to use BORIC ACID not BORAX…

        1. Boric acid is a desiccant- it dehydrates the insects bodies. Boric Acid & Borax are two entirely different chemical compounds; borax is sodium borate, while boric acid is hydrogen borate. Feel free to give it a try, though.

  5. My husband and I both have fleas and flea eggs in our hair and on our bodies. Any suggestions what to use to kill the eggs? We have found things to kill the fleas but eggs keep hatching.

    1. Please follow the instruction within the blog to free your home of eggs and fleas. You can use the cedar insecticide on your hair and bodies, providing you are not one of the few who are allergic to cedars. Follow the links within the blog for the products recommended and get rid of those critters!

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