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Mark Daul: Advice on summertime pests, fleas

Sat, Jul 29th 2017 07:00 am
By Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
The most aggravating time of your pet's life is when it encounters the pesky flea.
Fleas are blood-sucking creatures and can bring a lot of pain not only to humans, but animals.
Your pets should become your No. 1 concern, especially now. In my experiences, August had been the worst time for any dogs I ever owned.
Fleas start becoming active as the weather warms in the spring through the summer months of June, July and August. When cold winter months hit, they will remain mostly dormant.
Flea infestations are hard to control, especially when they come into your house and then hunker down in your rugs and carpets, furniture, dog and kitty beds, etc. That's where they will multiply. And you are not home free if you don't have rugs and carpets; they will get into the cracks and crevices where your floor and walls meet. Unlikely you say, but it is very possible.
When you get them in your house, it is either because of you, your dog or your cat. These parasites will take a ride from anyone as long as they can supply them a warm meal or two. Other perfect hosts that fleas like to pester include rabbits, squirrels, rats and several other warm-blooded wild critters.
I once had a dog a long time ago that was so aggravated by fleas. As much as I tried to get rid of them, I couldn't, despite daily bathing with flea soap, flea collars, salves or whatever I thought would get rid of them. Finally, I took my pet to see a veterinarian. One look and the vet said, "Your dog has fleas."
I thought no, it can't, I looked all through his hair and couldn't find a flea. But the vet had a very fine-toothed metal comb, called a flea comb, which you can buy in any pet store. The vet ran that comb about 12 inches through the dog's hair and, sure enough, there were fleas and flea larvae still on the dog. The vet sold me some medicine that had to be administered orally and he advised me to keep bathing my dog.
In three or four days, my doggie finally had relief, and, in that three or four days, I worked to exterminate my house, the dog's bedding, and anywhere else he frequented. It worked, and it was my fault my pet went through hell suffering for so long. I should have taken it to the vet sooner.
Your pets or you can pick fleas up outside in the grass. The fleas will jump on you or them for a free ride, thinking your pet or your legs are the bloodmobile going by. As tiny as they are, they have the ability to jump pretty high, probably reaching your knees.
Being so small, you probably won't identify them by their color, but they are usually golden or reddish-brown. And there is no confusion when you see the reddish skin on your pets. Even your own feet and leg bites will get reddish and itchy. Cortisone or something like it can help you.
There are many home remedies for ridding your home of fleas - probably as many as there are of those commercial remedies. In either case, you need to be diligent. You need to vacuum up as much as you can, almost daily, to get rid of old carcasses, unhatched larval eggs, and "flea dirt." Calling an exterminator would be your next choice.
I have used those spray bug bombs with much success. You will need more than one bomb. Follow the directions and keep your pets out of the house, and go back as directions state. It works. I've had spiders accumulating on my sun porch, so I set a bomb off and it was like magic - no more spiders.
When I told you about controlling ants a couple of weeks ago, I told you about the advantages of borax. Fleas are an enemy of it, too, so keep in mind you can spread the borax in your yard to help control these almost unseen, 1/16th-of-an-inch aggravators.
A little hint: Use a vacuum cleaner on your pet to draw these critters out. But make sure you empty that vacuum bag into a plastic bag and seal it tight.
All you need is a little caution when venturing in the woods, open fields, or even your own lawn. Pay attention and use a good bug repellent. Most pests I know of will be attracted to moist areas of your skin, like the back of your neck, your armpits and other places. Make sure you cover them well with repellent. Any repellent with "Diet" listed on the packaging can be trusted. The higher the percentage, the more protection you will have.
Tidbits
•The term "flea market" comes from the French marché aux puces, a name originally given to a market in Paris that specialized in shabby second-hand goods of the kind that might contain fleas. (Oxford English Dictionary; 1922)
•Tim Stack, owner of Mr. One, the guinea fowl I wrote about earlier, told me there have been many cars stopping to see and take pictures of Mr. One. Stack is asking visitors to pull over to Mr. One's side of the road, so he doesn't have to cross the street. Mr. One is very curious of anyone stopping to look at him, and he will come out to the middle of the road to greet you. We're all afraid he will get hit by a car, so please pull over!
•Poison ivy note: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "You cannot give the rash to someone else. Even if the person touches the rash or the fluids in the blisters, the person cannot get the rash. The person has to touch the oil to get the rash."
•Lake Ontario Salmon fishing has been on fire this year, despite the high waters, according to many U.S. charter boat captains. The "Great Ontario Salmon Derby" (July 1-Aug. 19) is now being held out of Toronto. Thus far, the first 10 Derby leaders have exceeded 30 pounds, and if you want to be the Derby winner, you'll have to beat 34.98 pounds.
•Lake fishermen Ed Klejdys and Steve Klejdys, brothers from North Tonawanda, never cease to amaze me. Ed and Steve are always on the top of the leaderboard somewhere in fishing tournaments. Ed has a 29.08-pound King Salmon registered in the Summer LOC Derby (June 30-July 30).
Leader by 5 ounces thus far is Richard Peesley from Lowman, New York, with a 30.13-pound king. Steve is the leader thus far in the Lake Trout division of this derby, with a 23.13-pound fish.
Comments, suggestions? Email [email protected].
The opinions in this column are those of the author. Niagara Frontier Publications makes no claims or guarantees as to the remedies or products listed herein.

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