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Flea away

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Your feet are itching from the ankle down, and the boils are driving you mad. Everyone in your household has bites on the feet - multiple bites, in fact. Suddenly, you're noticing tiny insects that hop around your floor, close to carpets and places frequented by your pets.

If you're noticing these signs, it's very likely that your home has become breeding grounds for fleas. If you have a pet, check for signs of fleas on their skin and fur for easy confirmation. It's a little hairier if you have no pets, but don't rule out fleas just yet! Even homeowners with no pets can be susceptible to these pests by way of the wayward flea-infested stray, or just sheer bad luck. The important thing to do is to check if what you have are, indeed, fleas.

Fill a shallow dish with dish soap diluted with water, and place low on the ground where you can see the insects hopping. Leave it there for a few hours. If you do indeed have fleas, you'll be able to see some of them dead in the water. Fleas can be identified by their long legs, which they use for jumping - up to seven inches!

Next up, you'll want to gather your wits and get to work. It's important for you to know that fleas can't survive or breed on human blood alone, so if you don't have a pet, you can breathe a little easier. However, whether or not you have a pet, you'll want to visit the local pet store to ask for something you can spray on your carpets and furnishings to kill the fleas.

Cover up! You'll want to wear long pants and socks. Make sure no skin is showing; any open flesh is food for the critters. You'll also want to go see the doctor for antibiotics and other medicines, as fleas can carry disease. For instant relief back home, try diluting a drop of potassium permanganate in a bucket of cold water, and soak your feet in it for thirty minutes.

Identify the places in your home that have been infested by the critters. Get a vacuum cleaner, preferably a bagless model with a HEPA filter. Your carpets and other fabric surfaces will need to be vacuumed. This include low couches and curtains. Clean out your vacuum cleaner after every use, or you'll run the risk of the fleas getting back out, rendering your work completely useless. Remember to vacuum deep into crevices and work the surface of rugs hard, as there could be flea eggs, as well as larvae hidden deep in the fibres.

Continue to vacuum, spray, and clean daily over the next few weeks. Treat your pet, if you have a pet, and make sure they remain flea-free by taking the necessary precautions. It can take up to four weeks to clear an infestation, and even then, you'll want to continue vacuuming every other day for at least another four weeks after to be safe.

Be vigilant! Remember to close all the doors and windows to make sure no strays sneak into your home again. Check your pets frequently to make sure that they aren't re-infested.

If all else fails, call pest control services.

Have you had some unpleasant experiences with fleas? Share with us in the comments below!