Natural Pests Control
The warm weather is here…and, so are the fleas and ticks.
When I was a kid my mother was so obsessed with getting rid of fleas she’d set off pesticide “bombs” in every room of the house, spray repellant on the rugs, put flea-collars on the cats and dogs, and then afterward she’d drench them with an entire can of flea powder until they drooled, ran off, and hid in the bushes. Fortunately, the animals, myself, and the other humans in my house, did survive my mother’s toxic chemical flea assault.
Unfortunately, this is the way most people deal with fleas and ticks (hopefully, not to the extreme of my mother).
Many pet owners assume over-the-counter flea products are safe…right? Surely, they wouldn’t sell anything toxic at the local drug store. But, they are not safe. In 2000, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report that demonstrated a link between chemicals used in flea and tick products with serious health problems in humans and pets, including some chemicals classified as carcinogenic. The NRDC states other studies show how these chemicals harm the nervous system, especially in children and cats.
And, don’t think veterinarian prescribed Spot-On flea and tick control is any safer.
My sister lost two cats by using topical pesticides for flea and tick control. They both died within 24-hours after only one Spot-On application. The brand her veterinarian prescribed was Frontline which contains the chemical, Fipronil. In the U.S., Fipronil has been in commercial use since 1996, and besides fleas, it’s also used to kill termites. Fipronil kills the insect by disrupting its central nervous system. The chemical acts on the GABA and glutamate receptors of the insect, and only a small amount of exposure is excito-toxic in humans and pets which mean neurons become so excited that they burn out and die. Fipronil has been shown to mutate proteins and kill human liver cells at concentrations of 0.1nM (that’s a very low exposure). Frontline with its active ingredient Fipronil is an effective pesticide and will kill 98% – 100% of fleas within 24 to 48 hours, but its toxin will last for 30 days. But, regardless of its effectiveness, do you really want pesticides floating around in your pets bloodstream? Or, have your children get this on their hands when they pet the dog?
Other flea and tick products that contain Fipronil are Pet Armor, EasySpot, Fipoguard, and Parastar. These following products: K9 Advantix and Advantage, contain Imidacloprid, a nicotine-based systemic insecticide which is banned in Germany and France, and is suspected (along with Fipronil) as the cause of “colony collapse disorder” in honey bees. Manufacturers claim their products affects only insects’ nervous system, not mammals. But, yet many pet owners have reported to their veterinarians that when they accidently got Advantage on their hands and then touched their mouths, their lips immediately became numb for several hours. So much for not having an effect on the nervous system of mammals!
The EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Pesticide Division has found that Fipronil stays in the system and has been associated with aggressive behavior, kidney and liver damage, convulsions, reduced fertility, and “drastic alterations in thyroid function” in dogs.
It’s important to remember the skin is both an eliminative and absorptive organ. Not only will the skin excrete toxins out of the body through the pores, but the skin will pull toxins into the bloodstream. So, anything you put on your skin, whether it’s sun tan lotion, perfume, etc, and pesticides, about 70% will be absorbed into your blood.
Frontline’s web site creates the impression that the product stays in the oil glands of the skin. But a study by Dr. Virginia Dobozy shows that, in fact, fipronil does enter the body and the organ systems. ~ Dr. Deva Khalsa & Stephen Harrod Buhner
The EPA questions the safety of Spot-On Flea & Tick control:
U.S. and Canada to Increase Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Pet Products
(Washington, DC – April 16, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for pets due to recent increases in the number of reported incidents. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, the death of pets.
Incidents with flea and tick products can involve the use of spot-on treatments, sprays, collars and shampoos. However, the majority of the incidents reported to EPA are related to flea and tick treatments with EPA-registered spot-on products.
Read the full EPA article HERE.
Another dangerous insecticide ingredient is pyrethroid. Recent studies have linked it as a neuro-disruptor affecting cognitive performances in children, particularly memory and verbal comprehension skills. Pyretoid can be found in most commonly used insecticide products ranging from aerosol bombs to pet shampoos (See Article).
What to do?
As an Animal Naturopathic Health Coach, I look to Nature for a safer solution.
So, what do wild animals do to protect themselves from insects?
Animals don’t like pesty bugs anymore than we do. Elephants, rhinoceros, and buffaloes, will roll in thick mud for protection. Elephants will also make fly swats out of bunches of palm leaves and carry them in their trunks to flick flies away.
Birds and mammals in the wild spend a tremendous amount of time grooming and house cleaning: picking fleas, lice, and ticks, from their nest or den or off their skin. In the case of more social hierarchy animals, like gorillas and chimps, they will groom each other to remove ticks and fleas in those hard to reach places.
Animals also use nature’s pharmacy to prevent or reduce the annoyance of pests. Capuchin monkeys like to open up citrus fruits and rub them into their fur. Citrus is both pungent and stimulating, containing volatile oils and flavone glycocides that have analgesic, insecticidal, and antimicrobial properties. Capuchins in Venezuela use millipedes as a bug repellant. Millipeds are anthropods that secrete toxic benzoquinones which are both repellent to insects and antimicrobial. Capuchins will rub and roll over the milliped to get it to release the toxin and then rub the secretions over its body.
Black and brown bears will dig up osha roots, chew on them until their saliva makes a paste, and then use the saliva-root mixture to rub furiously into their fur. Osha root is aromatic, with volatile and fixed oils, a lactone glycoside, an alkaloid, phytosterols, saponins, ferulic acid, phthalides, and monoterpenes.
Native Americans call the osha root, Bear Medicine. It is used as a topical anesthetic and antibacterial for skin conditions and bruises. As well as, a strong analgesic for the throat and as an antiviral medicine. Unfortunately, the osha root is now scarce due to its popularity and demand in the global market for herbal products.
Both wild and domesticated cats love to roll around in catnip. Not only does the plant give pleasure to the animal, but catnip contains the ingredient nepetalactone which is an effective natural insecticide, even against the unbeatable cockroach.
But, how can we keep pests away from our domesticated pets?
Most of these pests are outdoors and then work their way into the house (and on the cat and dog). So, lets first begin with pest control in the yard:
1. Mosquito Barrier is a liquid-garlic base repellent that not only repels mosquitoes, but also fleas, ticks, gnats, and fire ants. It’s safe for butterflies and bees, and you can read more about the product HERE.
2. Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white powder. As a pest control, DE’s fine powder dehydrates the insect by absorbing lipids from the waxy outer layer of the insects’ exoskeletons. It is best used outdoors by sprinkling it on the lawn. Inside the house, you would use DE like you would boric acid by applying it in the tight corners and crevices of floor boards or anywhere the pests are likely to crawl. And, although some people will use diatomaceous earth as a “flea powder” on the dog and cat, the problem is, not only is it messy, but if it’s used too often, DE may dry out the skin and that can be quite unpleasant for the dog or cat. Here’s a simple “Flea Powder Recipe”: Use equal parts of Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth, Neem (in powdered form) and Yarrow. Mix them together, but be careful not to breathe in the dust (DE can irritate the lungs and mucus membrane). Once the dust has settled, it is perfectly safe to use. Apply and work it through the animal’s fur. Read more about food-grade diatomaceous earth HERE.
3. Dishwasher detergent. Yes, it works! I’ve used it as pest control in my own garden. For the environment, use a bio-degradable brand like Seventh Generation. Once a week, mix 2 ounces of detergent in water and spray your yard. Homeopathic veterinarian Dr. Stephen Blake likes to add essential oils along with the detergent. He suggests: Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lemongrass, and Frankincense. And as always, use high-quality medicinal EOs. I recommend Young Living. OR Native American Nutritionals
4. Nematode are a simple multicellular organism that are found abundantly in every kind of eco-system from sea water, fresh water, the soil, and from such diverse areas as the desert, mountains, and ocenaic trenches. They’re tiny worm-like creatures that are anywhere from microscopic to 0.02mm in size. There are bad nematodes that destroy plants and cause ringworm in people, and there are the good ones like entomopathogenic nematodes that provide ‘biological control’ of soil-dwelling insect pests. We want the good nematodes that prey on the flea larvae in the soil.
For fleas, there is ANTidote, which also preys on fire ants! The product is sold through pet stores and garden suppliers. It’s applied with a lawn sprayer, and, within 24 hours, can bring about a 90% decrease in the number of flea larvae.
Nematodes have no adverse affect on anything but the pest, and is safe for birds and mammals. As with all biological controls, the predators need to be reintroduced periodically, because they eat all the prey species and die off for lack of food. Follow the label instructions, which usually recommends it’s best to apply in the early evening on wet soil.
Read more about nematodes HERE.
Topical Solutions For The Dog & Cat:
Dr. Stephen Blake the PetWhisperer recommends the following:
“For fleas and mosquitoes I have the owners follow up with an Essential Blend of oils consisting of one drop Lemon, Lemongrass and one drop of R. C. (blend of essential oils containing 4 blends of Eucalyptus species , Pine, Lavender, Cypress, Spruce, Myrtle, Marjoram and Peppermint.) per ounce of water and spraying this on the dogs after they are dried off. You can also spray them with this any time they are going into an area that is flea/tick or mosquito infested to help repel them. For Ticks I use one drop of each of the following oils in water and spray it on them each day they go out in tick-infested areas; Lavender, Lemon grass, Sage and Thyme. I do not recommend spraying essential oils on cats because they have sensitive livers which take longer to remove toxins and essential oils from their system. I recommend using it in their bedding areas and places they sleep or hang out. I work internally with cats with European Walnut gemmotherapy 3 drops per day along with good nutrition, no vaccines, or chemicals of any kind put on or in them.”
As always, your dog or cats best defense against pests is an optimal immune system. Fleas are attracted to sick animals. Nutrition is the foundation of good health and I recommend a species appropriate diet of raw meaty bones and organs, along with clean purified water, sunlight, and proper exercise.
A video on how to correctly remove a tick:
Resource: Some natural pests control products:
Here you may find a herbal tick repellant discussed by Stephen Harrod Buhner in his book “Healing Lyme” Montana Farmacy