Plans give way to pests

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Beeker, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. Beeker

    Beeker Active Member

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    Location:
    New England, USA
    It looks like I am going to have to alter my plans for what plants to put around the church and rectory. There is a flea infestation that we are dealing with due to squirrels living in one of the walls of the rectory. I have heard of lavender and mint (pennyroyal was recommended) being plants to repel fleas. What are your thoughts and are there any tips on placement of these plants and the plant behaviors and needs? I will, of course, do my own research, but I would also like any advice anyone can give.

    Thank you in advance.

    Please keep in mind that we have deer that are feasting on any tasty plant we have.

    Thank you again.
     
  2. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Are the fleas inside or outside? I assume that the squirrels have been removed, and that their point of ingress/egress has been blocked. ???
     
  3. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    Good old "20 Mule Team Borax" sprinkled on the carpet for several days then vacuumed up will dry out and kill the eggs. Do this several times over a month. If they are in the walls that still might be a solution. If outside it might be a deterrent if sprinkled close to the foundation, I have used it successfully in rentals that previously had pets and they left fleas in the unit.

    What kinds of plants do you have, and what kind of light will they be put in? Pictures would be good if you don't know the names. We need to know 'which plant' to tell you 'how' and 'where'. With all the knowledge on this forum we should be able to figure out what to do. barb
     
  4. Beeker

    Beeker Active Member

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    Thank you for your replies.
    Squirrels are now out, and blocked. Fleas are inside. Around the two buildings are a mix of shade and sun. I was thinking of using Lavender and mint. I am not sure if I can use Borax in the rectory because the priest has 3 cats. That is another problem. I am trying to find chewable flea medicine because the top spot doesn't work, which seems to be a common problem in my area. There are no carpets in the rectory, only some area rugs. The building was built in 1840 and not originally made to be lived in. The floors are uninsulated and the heating ducts are open to the ground underneath in the crawlspace. Occasionally, the cats will catch a mouse. I am pretty sure that is another reason for the fleas.
    There are some pictures I took of the two buildings in the early spring of this year on the second page of this post:
    http://www.gardenstew.com/about13946-15.html
    We do have many animals in the area; deer, turkey, chipmunks, as well as the mice and squirrels.
     
  5. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    Beeker, I have 5 cats that never get outside. They never seemed to be bothered by the borax. I still have to use Flea drops a couple time a year because the fleas come in on our pant legs occasionally. Either Advantage or Frontline seem to work very well. Maybe if you just treat the cats regularly that will help. Fleas prefer to live on the cats rather than people. (Nothing worse than fleas in a long haired, white, chinchilla coated Persian cat.)
    Another thought, since there are no carpets, diligent vacuuming paying particular attention to the nooks and crannies to get the live fleas or the eggs. Add a half cup of the borax in the vac bag to kill anything slumped up. I'll try to help with the flea problem. But there are several members in and around your area that can give you great advice about low maintenance plants and how too. Barb
     
  6. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    If the fleas are mainly in the church you should be able to get rid of a lot of them if the squirrels are gone, with the Borax or a one-time professional treatment. [Keep the cats away from the latter] That might also get any ticks which are around -- my oldest daughter caught Lyme Disease in Massachusetts three years ago -- terrible thing. Fortunately she was diagnosed early and treated early, and now is fine. We had a friend whose medical team did not realize her problem was Lyme Disease -- this was in Ontario -- and she was mis-treated for 3 years and as a result has lost her health, her spirit, and her energy. It is a terrible problem if untreated, and only a few medical teams realize how prevalent and how serious it is. Patients have to push and pester to receive the proper tests. Canadian health care isn't bad, and is publicly available, but Lyme Disease treatment pales here in comparison to Lyme Disease care in the U.S. You don't want your parishioners to catch Lyme Disease.

    Check with your priest and see if his cats have been given flea medication [vaccination, lasts a good long while, a year at least] and if not, give him the visit to a Veterinarian, and then quarantine the cats for a few days while the rectory is being professionally treated for fleas and ticks. You might want to invite the priest to stay with a parishioner for a few days while this is being done. Should be an annual thing once the cat vaccination is established.

    Why life was brutal and short in the early days...
     
  7. Beeker

    Beeker Active Member

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    Thank you Barb and Janet.

    Yes, I think the church should be an easy clean, too. The cats don't go in there and I haven't seen many fleas in there. The rectory is the main problem because that is where the squirrels were and the cats live. They are indoor cats, too. One of them seems to have FAD, so I will have to try to get him to the vet. I will definitely do the borax thing. We already tried top spot meds and they didn't work for us as well as many other cat owners around here. We are looking for a chewable, but if there is a vaccination, reasonably priced, that may be an option as well.
    Janet, one of my friends also came down with Lyme Disease just about a month ago. He never found a tick, did work a lot outdoors, but we suspect that it may have come from a flea bite. The way his body has been reacting to flea bites leads me to believe that he may also have a form of FAD, and the site where the LD was contracted was infected badly. All evidence, so far, points to a flea as the source of his LD. Fleas are not common carriers of it, but I learned from this situation that any insect that feeds on blood can carry it.
    All the more reason to get this problem resolved ASAP!

    Thank you all for your advice and please continue to post if you have any ideas for deterring the fleas from coming into the yard and buildings. So far, I have heard that Lavender and Pennyroyal mint are good flea deterrents. Any thoughts about that? Any other ideas?
     
  8. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    I looked up FAD, for your info and others, it's:
    What is flea allergy dermatitis and what are its symptoms?
    Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), often called “flea bite hypersensitivity”, is a skin disease caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva. A single flea bite can trigger the disease’s intense itching. Cats with FAD scratch their heads and necks. This often leads to “hot spots”, or localized hair loss and skin infections. You may find fleas and flea dirt (the flea feces look like black specks) on your pet, although many cats with FAD have very few fleas, since they are constantly licking and chewing.

    How is flea allergy dermatitis diagnosed?
    Your veterinarian looks for the usual signs (scratching, skin sores, the presence of fleas and/or flea dirt). He or she may also perform a skin test to confirm that fleas are causing the problem, as FAD symptoms can resemble those of other conditions, including external parasites (mites, lice), infections and other allergies, that cause severe itching.

    How is flea allergy dermatitis treated?
    The best way to treat FAD is to prevent fleas from attacking your pet. Various insecticides and insect growth regulators that eliminate flea infestations are available. Your veterinarian can recommend the right product for your pet. Daily vacuuming and frequent washing of your pet’s bedding can also reduce your home’s flea population.

    To break the “itch-scratch” cycle that leads to skin infections, your veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids, antihistamines and essential fatty acids to relieve irritation. Warm water baths and anti-itching shampoos and conditioners also help.

    What is most important to realize is that there is no cure for FAD: your pet will always be allergic to flea bites and you must be continually on your guard to prevent further problems. Flea prevention is a must.


    Unfortunately in an old country house these things are harder to control. If it continues to be a problem, other than the treatment above [a fumigation of the house in the walls, attic, basement, etc., is probably necessary -- the resident priest and his cats will have to be housed elsewere for a few days -- and the parish will have to pay for this for your priest's rectory and for the cats, who then can be vaccinated against fleas themselves with a special annual vaccine commonly available which prevents reproduction in fleas, plus perhaps a single flea treatment to get the adult ones] and don't hesitate to do so -- a special request for donations in order? If the old house is open to the outside here and there, as it is bound to be, about the only other remedy is a small new rectory built to code with an airtight shell and automatic ventilation system, everything screened properly, etc. And even then the outside critters will get in.

    The cat vaccination against fleas, an annual treatment, is a must -- that cuts down on the population of internal fleas for everyone and prevents the cats from being treated as food source by the fleas.
     
  9. Paula B

    Paula B Active Member

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    Mint and lavender are good choices for keeping the deer from nibbling. Other plants the deer seem to avoid are Russian Sage, creeping thyme, iris, daffodil, and pieris Japonica
     
  10. JenRi

    JenRi Active Member

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    Thanks for the info Janet Doyle, I was wondering what FAD was for a while! Can people get FAD as well or is it just pets?

    We have dogs but to protect against fleas we apply a pre-prepared solution on to the back of their necks every three months and it stays in their blood so that when the fleas bite they become infertile, live out their natural lives and die, after a month or so you'll have few fleas left as they can't reproduce. You can normally get the same sort of thing for cats, perhaps there's something like that you can get in New England? We have Frontline and advantage here and they're both good brands, although one is better than the other in our experience, i'll ask Mum tomorrow, which one it is in case you can get it.

    Hope the infestation clears up soon, my parents almost divorced over one we had when we had cats way back when I was a kid, its really not nice.
     

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