The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 24, 2013

Ryan Richardson: Natural substance is best flea-fighter

By Ryan Richardson
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — I feel like I cursed the pet owners of Joplin. In last week's column, I gave Mother Nature a pat on the back for getting spring here early, so I could give a heads up on how to deal with fleas and ticks during the upcoming warm-weather months.

Whoops. My bad. Sorry, pet owners. I feel like the snow and sleet is somehow my fault.

Maybe, in my optimism that this summer will soon be here, I called down the wrath of Mother Nature to ruin the official start of spring. But no worries, the real season will be here soon, and this week I will continue to help you in the upcoming battle against fleas.

First off, we want to take the battle to the inside of your home. If your pet has shown up with fleas, then you might have a source inside.

It is in your best interest to clean some of your pet's favorite hangouts. Any bedding needs to be washed, including your own. If you have carpets, clear out your vacuum's bag to start fresh, and go to town.

Once the carpets are clean, start with the furniture including the cushions, then take a run at your curtains. The eggs and larva can be anywhere, so you want to get as many as possible.

After that is done and your house is cleaned, you'll want to pick up one of your best weapons in the war against fleas: Diatomaceous earth.

This is a product that I swear by. You can find it at almost any garden store and in several pet stores. Here is the best part: It is 100-percent natural and safe for your family and pets. This stuff comes in a powder form, and you can put it basically anywhere.

The powder is actually small crystals that are fossilized remains. The crystals will work their way in to the exoskeleton of a flea, thus ending its life early. This stuff also works on bedbugs and many other household pests.

It works like a champ outside, too, which is where you will fight an uphill battle in the summer months. As an added bonus, this stuff will not damage your lawn or your home garden.

It has historically been a natural pesticide, which makes it a great alternative to spraying chemicals in the area in which your children and pets play. I dislike using harsh chemicals, unless the situation is dire and you have considered the safety risks involved.

Instead of spreading the diatomaceous earth by hand, I suggest that you make a solution to spread on your lawn. Mix about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Diatomaceous Earth with a gallon of water, and put it in a fresh spray bottle. Once outside, you can apply it to anywhere your pet frequents.

Lastly, give yourself a congratulations. You will have taken a big step in fighting one of summer's biggest pests, while keeping your outside area safe to enjoy.

Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at or 417-627-7363.