I change decor often, do I need to worry about fleas on decorative items infesting storage and reinfesting the house again? If so, what do I do?
Hello. Good question!
This shouldn’t be a problem. However, there are a few decorative items you should be extra careful with: Rugs, pet bedding, upholstered furniture, cushions and pillows. The general rule of thumb here is any items that an infested animal may have rested on.
Washing the items in a washing machine will kill any immature fleas. If this isn’t possible, set them out in the hot sun for a few hours. Alternatively, chemical control measures would include using an IGR spray.
Eggs are laid on pets, but they’ll quickly fall off. Most drop in areas where pets rest, namely carpeting. However, if pets occasionally sleep on sofas (or other areas), it’s likely some eggs will fall there as well.
In order for the fleas to survive after hatching from eggs, there must be food for larvae in the form of “flea dirt”. Larvae starve to death in 3 days without food. “Flea dirt” is simply undigested host blood from adult fleas that gets excreted as feces. It’s poop. Fleas defecate on pets as they feed. The fecal blood dries and eventually falls off the animal.
“Flea dirt” doesn’t fall as easily from the animal’s fur as eggs. Typically, it only becomes dislodged when pets groom or scratch themselves. (Interestingly, this is believed to be the evolutionary reason why flea bites itch). So, areas where fleas can successfully develop are rare. Viable zones tend to be where pets spend a lot of time sleeping or grooming. Over 80% will be carpeting.
Decorative items to be concerned about: Rugs, pet bedding, pillows, cushions, and upholstered chairs and sofas.
Washing these items in a washing machine will kill any immature fleas. You can read more about this in my other answer.
If the decor isn’t washable, such as a sofa or chair, it may be a good idea to employ chemical control measures. Luckily, an adulticide isn’t needed because we’re dealing with the immature stages. We can solely use an insect growth regulator (IGR). IGRs are less toxic and safer than classic pesticides.
IGRs mimic the naturally occurring hormones in insects. When the natural hormones reach low levels, it triggers the insect to molt into the next stage of life. By introducing artificial hormones, it prevents these low levels, and, as a result, the insects can’t mature. They’ll die as immatures, being unable to reproduce.
On product labels, look for pyriproxyfen or (S)-methoprene. These are the two most common IGRs used in pest control products.
There are many home flea sprays on the market that contain these chemicals. However, they often contain adulticides as well. Probably because customers assume the sprays should target the adult stage and the immature stages.
Since only we are only dealing with the immature stages, we can employ an IGR alone, without an adultcide. You can purchase IGR (pyriproxyfen) concentrate on Amazon. Martin’s IGR comes in a size that isn’t too excessive and will keep costs down. Other brands will contain more product because they’re intended to be used outdoors. Be sure to follow the directions on the labels. For indoors (or in storage), one application on items will prevent fleas from developing for 7 months.
Good luck in dealing with those fleas!