Fleas the the yard

jplee3December 17, 2012

Hey all,

I've been having a problem with fleas in my backyard for a while now. I've tried Diatomaceous Earth and Beneficial Nematodes. Unfortunately, the DE didn't seem very effective even when it was drier and it's definitely not going to be as effective since we've been getting sporadic showers/rain several days throughout each week here in SoCal. I also did a short test with DE by capturing a few fleas and putting them in a jar with DE. It took about a week before they died off - it seems like for DE to be effective, it takes a long time to kill off all the adult fleas and break the cycle (even if the adult fleas are exposed to the DE, they can still lay eggs can't they?)
I then tried nematodes but those seemed to have no effect - the soil in my yard is very clay, and I've read that nematodes don't thrive well in clay soil. I decided to give it a try anyway but it obviously didn't work.
I've also tried the homemade flea traps out in the yard: pie tin with soapy water and light over it in the past. The success rate was pretty low - at most I found maybe a few fleas in the pie tin at a given time. I set out two-three at one point and only caught a couple fleas. I know there's gotta be more out there though, given the fact that I keep getting bitten. If I wear white socks + sandals, I can guarantee I'll track a few more in.

I'm positive these are fleas - I found one sucking blood on my foot in the house a few weeks ago. I'm pretty positive I tracked it in from the yard after being out there.
I don't believe there's an infestation inside the house - it only seems that I get bitten when I go outside. On Saturday afternoon I was working on my raised beds outside for a good amount of time. Later that day I noticed my neck started itching and I found a few bites. Just last night, my wife counted about 14 bite marks on my back. I haven't seen any bites on her but she doesn't go into the yard. This is how I've come to the conclusion that the yard is the main/major issue.
Right now, our yard is pretty muddy - I ripped out all the plants and bark ground cover in hopes of revamping and doing some landscaping (starting with the raised garden beds). We also have a couple small covered patio/deck areas which stay mostly dry when it rains. It doesn't seem like fleas live or burrow in the mud/dirt. I do have a pile of yard clippings mixed with mud/dirt that I've raked up - could that or under the decks be the breeding grounds?

That said, what else can or should I do? I've been avoiding the flea bombs, sprays, poisons, etc for the longest time (because I don't want to spray that stuff near my raised garden beds that I'm growing vegetables in) but now I'm getting to the point of desperation and wondering if I'll just have to bite the bullet and do it; being careful not to spray too close to the beds.

Sorry for the long post and thanks for reading!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

That said, what else can or should I do? I've been avoiding the flea bombs, sprays, poisons, etc for the longest time (because I don't want to spray that stuff near my raised garden beds that I'm growing vegetables in) but now I'm getting to the point of desperation

==>> i remember you.. and i think you answered your own question ...

and i have no clue why you would avoid spraying the beds ... where the fleas probably hide during sunlight ...

you have tried to play nice .. now its time to get serious ... GO FOR IT!!!

i never really thought the DE would do anything .. except waste your time.. but i didnt have the heart to tell you that back when ...

hire professionals.. if you dont think you can do it yourself [emotionally or physically] ... and have it done while you are on a week long vacation.. elsewhere.. lol ..


    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Hey Ken,

Well, I just set those beds up recently - the wood is cedar so I'd think/hope the fleas would be repelled by it.

I'd want to avoid spraying them so I'm not spraying insecticide/pesticide on my vegetables :)

In any case, someone mentioned that he thinks the bites I found on my back/neck are likely not from fleas but are from another biting insect as fleas typically will only hang around the lower extremities.

We are going to Europe in a few months, so maybe that would be a good time :D

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 5:29PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

a pro can ID the problem.. and offer a solution ...

and i would treat before you plant the veggies..

i doubt anyone is going to suggest a soil based treatment.. aka systemic ...

and if you have to give up one cycle of veggies.. so what..

would you prefer the bugs.. to the veggies that cost you more to grow in your yard..than they do at the grocer .. lol ..

as i said.. at some tipping point.. you have to give up this touchy/feeling nonsense.. and declare war .. and be done with it..

or just move...


    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 7:48PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Contrary to popular wisdom, fleas are nest parasites. Thus they don't range throughout a garden & landscape.

thus the only sites that need management are where the flea-ridden animals sleep.

Flea bombs don't work indoors, and certainly not outdoors.

Neither will the cedar boards.

I suggest you obtain a firm ID of the creatures you're capturing because insects other than fleas can bite people,including certain beneficial insets.

To do so, take samples to your county's Extension Service office. (Phone ahead first.) Locate your county's office w/ this clickable map:

Here is a link that might be useful: locate your county's Extension Service office

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 10:37PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The symptoms simply don't sound like fleas. Oh, I do think that the ones you've actually seen on your leg are fleas, but I suspect that the other critters are a biting gnat of some sort or a biting thrip.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 3:31AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

seriously.. if you can afford to go to the continent ..

hire a 'professional' [and i dont mean jose' with a pump tank] to take care of this.. and come home to a bug free yard ...

and to be done with it all.. get a guarantee ...

you are really tilting at windmills here ... i wish it had worked.. but the gauntlet has been thrown down ... there.. enough metaphors for today ...

oh.. and have the house checked ...

really now.. arent you really to the point of getting this taken care of???


ps: do keep us informed on the ID .. and the treatment.. we are very interested ... well i am.. i cant speak for the rest ...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 8:19AM
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Thanks everyone! I think I need to ID the issue first. Rhizo, you bring up an interesting point on "Thrips"


I think I've seen insects that look *very* similar to the pictures of "Thrips" - I noticed a few crawling around on a watering can I had outside one time. Of course, it seems like their bites feel like pricks, etc. I didn't notice this when I was outside but it could have just been from being so occupied with what I was doing at the time.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:02PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Biting thrip "bites" feel like little needle pricks to me. So do the little sand gnats or other biting gnats.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Yea, I think I have been bitten by those things before, and they do feel like pricks. However, I don't necessarily recall the bites swelling up to bumps and itching (which is currently the case)

This post was edited by jplee3 on Tue, Dec 18, 12 at 19:18

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Ugh, so it seems the fleas must have just gone into 'hibernation' for the winter. A few weeks ago I was out in the garden and came back in and noticed bites. I checked again and found fleas. As far as bug ID, I'm positive these are fleas, and that they are biting me (I've seen them sucking blood before so I know). And they are managing to cling to me and get up above my lower extremities - I've seen several bites around my waist area... actually, there are times where I'm squatting so they might be jumping onto my shirt/waist area then.

Anyway, the plausible explanation is that there are rodents or animals that are either hanging around in the yard or hiding under the deck. I'm not sure how to figure this out though because I *never* see any animals out there. That's with the exception of the one time I saw a possum on the yard wall. Actually, the other day I came across a dead rat (or larger field mouse?) that was all dehydrated and decomposing.

I'm thinking once I get rid of whatever animals are hanging around the garden, the fleas should be gone as well. This whole thing is pretty irritating though. I even asked a terminator about spraying the yard and he said he could but warned that the problem won't necessarily go away if there are animals bringing the fleas into the yard in the first place. Ughh, I don't know what to do.

This post was edited by jplee3 on Mon, May 6, 13 at 19:30

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 6:59PM
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I have fleas in my garden as well because of all the cats that like to use my garden as their litter box.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 5:13PM
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