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How to Treat Fleas in the Yard

Fleas thrive in warm or humid weather and can lay up to 50 eggs each day.

Your lawn and yard can act as a breeding ground for fleas, which can then hitch a ride on your pet (or you) and be brought inside to wreak havoc in your home. Fleas are no small problem, either: They can lay up to 50 eggs a day, and their bites can cause sores and rashes. If conditions are right, they can live up to two years.

It can be hard to spot fleas in the yard, as these reddish-brown, wingless, narrow-bodied pests are rarely bigger than 1/6 of an inch long. A simple way to determine whether you have fleas in your yard is to put on a pair of tall white athletic socks (pull them up as far as they will go) and walk around your yard, especially near spots your pet likes to frequent. If fleas are present, they'll show up on your socks. (Afterward, seal the socks in a plastic bag and dispose of them.)

Here's how to treat fleas in the yard and make your lawn less attractive to them.

  • Treat your lawn. Use a spreader to apply Scotts┬« Turf Builder┬« Summerguard┬« Lawn Food with Insect Control, which feeds and strengthens your grass while killing fleas.
  • Build a barrier. Create a perimeter around your home that's unfriendly to fleas. Remove all leaf litter, brush, and plantings for 6 to 18 inches (wider barriers are better) from the outside of the house. Apply Ortho┬« Home Defense┬« Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2 along your home's foundation, making sure to follow label directions.
  • Mow high (but not too high). Cut your lawn to the ideal height for your grass type. Overly long grass gives fleas places to hide, while grass that's too short (less than 2 inches) won't be attractive to spiders or ants, both of which prey on fleas.
  • Remove thatch. A thick thatch layer gives fleas, their eggs, and their larvae a place to hide. Dethatch your lawn as needed to keep your lawn's thatch layer to a half inch or less.
  • Avoid overwatering. Fleas love moisture. Most lawns only need about an inch of water per week, through irrigation or rainfall (or both).
  • Mulch with cedar. Fleas hate cedar, so choose cedar mulch for those areas (such as under a hedge, deck, or porch) where your pet likes to rest. You may also want to create a cedar mulch barrier around play areas or patios.
  • Let the sunshine in. Fleas like it dark, so increase the light your yard receives by doing some tree and shrub pruning. Remove low branches and prune thick canopies to allow sunlight to reach areas beneath.
  • Clear clutter. Remove places throughout the yard under which fleas can hide and lay eggs. Clear debris (think stone or lumber piles), stack and store pots neatly, and clean crawl spaces or other areas beneath your deck.
  • Evict wildlife. Critters like squirrels, feral cats, skunks, rabbits, and deer, are all potential flea transports, so do what you need to make your yard less friendly to them.

If fleas have already invaded your home, take these 5 additional steps to get rid of fleas. Note that it's important to attack fleas in all areas of the house at one time.

  1. Treat infected pets with flea shampoo or other type of flea treatment. (Ask your vet for recommendations.)
  2. Vacuum the carpeting and furniture to remove eggs and larvae, then seal up the vacuum bag in a plastic garbage bag and place in an outdoor trash bin.
  3. Wash linens, clothes, and pet bedding in hot, soapy water.
  4. Treat pet bedding with Ortho® Home Defense® Bed Bug Killer, which also kills fleas. Spray around your pet's sleeping quarters and favorite hang-out areas, including bedding, carpeting, and flooring. Be sure to follow the directions on the label.
  5. Apply Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2 to baseboards and door frames, and around windows. As always, follow label directions.

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