3 Methods for Killing Fleas in the Yard
Keep in mind that you probably don't need to treat your entire yard, since the majority of fleas stick close to their food source. Target areas where your pet spends time, paying extra attention to the dark, damp spots and crevices that fleas like best.
Disinfect Outdoor Items
Wash all of your pet's bedding, preferably using hot water. Hot, soapy water kills most fleas, but the dryer is what really finishes them off; this kills flea eggs that have not hatched yet. Dry all items on the hottest setting that the fabric can stand, adding an additional 15 minutes after they are dry for maximum effectiveness.
Follow up by applying a pet-safe citrus spray to your animal's bedding to make it less appealing to fleas. Don't use citrus oil products designed for dogs on your cat, since felines are more sensitive and may experience liver damage.
Disinfect items that can't be washed by moving them into a sunny spot, including outdoor furniture and pet toys. Fleas prefer dark, shady areas, and outdoor populations rapidly dwindle in bright sunlight.
Clean and Mow
Fleas thrive in crevices and hiding places. Clear your yard of any debris and mow the grass short to make it less hospitable. Grass clippings may contain eggs, so place them in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of them in an outdoor receptacle. If you have bushes or vines that are sheltering fleas, take this opportunity to prune them back. Sweep paved areas and wash them down with hot, soapy water.
Apply Diatomaceous Earth or Insecticides
Completely harmless to pets and kids, diatomaceous earth is deadly to any flea that touches it. This white powder is the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic creatures. These particles stick to the flea's waxy exoskeleton, making microscopic abrasions that cause dehydration and death. Diatomaceous earth is most effective when dry, so sprinkle it underneath affected decks and inside crawl spaces. Be sure to purchase the food-grade diatomaceous earth sold at garden stores and not the heat-treated kind used for swimming pools, which may pose health risks if inhaled.
For large infestations in damp environments, you may prefer a synthetic insecticide. Two types are suitable for outdoor use: pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator or IGR, and pyrethroid insecticides, including permethrin and esfenvalerate. However, some flea populations have a resistance to pyrethroid insecticides, so if the initial spraying doesn't reduce their numbers, don't bother with a repeat application.
Fleas like to live close to your pets. For animals that spend time outdoors, this can mean flea populations living under porches, beside patios and inside dog houses. To tell if fleas have moved into your yard, pull on a pair of white socks and shuffle your feet around your pet's favorite areas. Watch for jumping black spots, which stand out against the white background.
Though initially daunting, outdoor flea populations are actually easier to eliminate than indoor ones. Fleas prefer shady, damp environments, so concentrate your search there. Most infestations respond well to thorough cleaning, basic yard care, and some extra help from natural or synthetic insecticides.