DIY Home Flea Control Methods

Affordable and Natural Pest Control Solutions

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
A hideous flea under magnification
A hideous flea under magnification
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This article was updated on 02/17/21.

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Just one glance at that monster insect pest above is enough to make you want to eradicate them because of the sheer ugliness, but wait, it gets worse. Your pet or family members may develop flea allergy dermatitis, skin infections, and anemia from contact. Also, if your dog or cat ingests a flea (which is very likely) he may become infected with tapeworms.

According to the American Kennel Club, “Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite. Along with roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm, this flat, segmented worm is found in dogs, cats, humans, and many other species around the world. The most common tapeworm species is Dipylidium Caninum. The medical term for a tapeworm infestation is Cestodiasis.”

“First, the dog will ingest a host that is harboring tapeworm eggs, most often an adult flea. There are a few ways a dog might ingest a flea, such as self-grooming, or grooming a canine or feline housemate. Other animals that are potential transmitters of eggs include birds, rabbits, or rodents, which even a well-fed dog might scavenge for.”1

Why are Fleas so Hard to Get Rid Of?

Why are they such effective parasites? First, their bodies are flattened sideways, allowing them to easily navigate through your living room carpet, yard, dog park, or your pet’s fur no matter how dense it may be.

Secondly, those claws you see in the image above allow them to cling to Fido’s skin to resist all that scratching and chewing. And those back legs? They allow the pests to jump 50 times their body length! They would easily dominate in the Insect Olympics. Basically, your pets don’t stand a chance.

How Can You Practice Organic Flea Control?

In a previous post we explained how to eliminate flea larvae in outside the home by applying beneficial nematodes. This is a preventative measure since the larvae can never reach adulthood. Most of these flea controls are effective on other household pests, particularly orange oil.

But what if you already have them in your home? You need DIY home flea and pest control methods that don’t rely on poisons and pesticides. Filling your home with toxins to get rid of pests is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Following are some organic solutions.

  • Homemade Flea Spray. This is a very economical method that is non-toxic to children and pets. All you need is a spray bottle and a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Combine 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of witch hazel.
  • Dawn Dish Soap. Any dish soap will work but Dawn is preferable. There’s a reason that its used on animals following oil spills. Simply fill small bowls with warm water and soap and place them in affected areas. Night time is most effective because fleas are nocturnal insects.
  • Orange Oil Spray. This is one of my favorites for all types of pest control. It won’t harm humans or pets but it is deadly for insects including fleas, spiders, ants and more. It can be purchased at Amazon.com.
  • Diatomaceous Earth. Again, look for this at the nursery. It is the microscopic remains of fossilized algae, in a fine powder form. Sprinkle the dust thinly in affected areas wearing a dust mask to avoid throat irritation. Wait two days and then vacuum thoroughly. Diatomaceous earth kills fleas by dehydrating their bodies.
  • Rosemary as a Preventative Measure. While rosemary will not kill fleas, it will certainly keep them away. They don’t like it! There are two good methods. Firstly, let it dry and then grind it up finely. Sprinkle it anywhere you are experiencing flea activity. The second way is to use an herbal rinse to keep fleas off of your pet and outdoors where they belong. Place 1/2 cup fresh rosemary in a quart of boiling water and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove the liquid from the heat and strain it into a bowl. After it cools, apply it to your pet’s coat and let it dry before allowing your pet to go outside. Using both these methods in conjunction is an attack on two fronts. Hint: grown your own rosemary in your herb or veggie garden; this will ensure you have a steady supply of organic herbs.

Using a combination of these methods is more effective than a single one so don’t be afraid to experiment to determine what works for you. Do you know of any other effective home flea control methods? Tell our readers about it in the comment section below. We’re all in this together!

Further Reading

References

  1. American Kennel Club, Tapeworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/tapeworms-in-dogs-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention/


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


10 Habits of Highly-Successful Runners

by Kelly R. Smith

A healthy runner is a happy runner.
A healthy runner is a happy runner.
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Article edited on 10/28/18

By definition, we runners are creatures of habit. We simply don’t feel right if we miss a workout and sometimes push harder on the next one to make amends. This makes it a healthy habit in our eyes and occasionally just a bit on the kooky side in the eyes of our sedentary counterparts.

We are also goal-setters. This is easy for beginning runners when the opportunities are as open and unlimited as the blue west Texas sky. The first 5K, the first 10K and so it goes until we have marked off our bucket list so many pounds lost, that first marathon or ultramarathon.

But what happens after that? Do we crater? Hopefully not. Although I must admit that I don’t see as many of the old crew at the races as I used to. I don’t do as many as I used to anymore either; I just focus on the Texas Bridge Series.



But I do keep running. My goal now is just to keep running until I eventually lay down for that long, long dirt sleep, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t claim me. Now that is a worthy goal. With that in mind, lets look at some the 10 habits of successful runners. As I define success, it’s keepin’ on keepin’ on; with 5 ultras under my belt more distance isn’t the answer it once was. For you it might be still climbing that ladder of goals.

Do Your Strength Training. Many runners neglect the weight training and this is a mistake. Building and maintaining lean muscle mass balances us out and reduces the prospect of injury. There is a good reason that those in the know continually stress the importance of maintaining a strong core. Choose exercises that work the upper body, core and lower body. Shoot for 3 times a week. There is really no reason for a gym membership unless you need the swimming pool. Resistance bands are very economical and versatile and will even fit in your suitcase if you spend time on the road.

Chow Down on More Vegetables. You don’t have to adopt Michelle Obama’s school menu, but try to fit more organic veggies into your lunch and dinner meals. The point is that high-quality carbohydrates lend power to your workouts, and their antioxidants help keep the potentially damaging free radicals at bay.  Myself, I’m nuts about salad. Try to select vegetables of different colors since that virtually guarantees that you will get a broad range of nutrients and avoid nutrient deficiency. And don’t forget to add some cheese; calcium and protein are good things. That being said, don’t skimp on high-quality protein; it boosts metabolism and repairs muscle.

Make Running Your First Activity of the Day. After your coffee of course. You afternoon runners know the drill; the later it is in the day, the more things arise to threaten your workout. Plus the fact that it gives you altogether too much time to talk yourself out of it. And isn’t it worth the early wake-up call to already be endorphin-saturated when you are faced with the prospect of a boring meeting at the office? Enjoying another cup o’ joe? When you set your alarm before bed, be sure to allow enough time for your warm-up routine. Be sure to set out all your essentials the night before so you can plug ‘n play. That means shorts, shoes, socks, water bottle, etc.

Get in Some Cross-Training. As good as running is for us, it is very stressful on the body. Some swimming, spinning and time on the rowing machine will maintain your level of fitness while at the same time giving your joints a break. With that in mind, a couple of good times to work cross-training into your schedule is on the day before or the day after a hard run. I’ve found that some slow yet long lap swimming is just the thing to elevate my heart rate while also getting a great all-over stretch in.

Dump the Gadgets Once in a While. We have become obsessed with cell phones, GPS, earbuds blocking out the world and God knows what else. It will do your soul good to leave all that junk behind every now and again when you hit the road or trails; get out of your box. Enjoy the sights. Listen to your breathing. Smell stuff. Do something nice and redeeming that doesn’t reek of “me.” I run early in the morning and stop to pick up earthworms that have slithered up onto the sidewalk and lost their bearings. I toss them back into the deep grass before the ants can attack them like so many Lilliputians on Gulliver. Weird? Hell yeah, but you wouldn’t believe my karma bank account. Besides, all this will remind you of why you run in the first place.



Make Your Weekly Long Run a High-Quality One. If you are not already doing a weekly long run now is the time to start. They are not just to be used as part of a marathon program. The physical benefits are many including beneficial enzyme changes in you legs, new capillary growth, and musculoskeletal strengthening. Remember to follow the 10% rule to avoid injury—don’t bump up the distance more than 10% from one week to the next. If Saturday morning is your long run, Friday is a good candidate for a rest day. You might want to take your music with you; it can be lonely out there.

Be Your Own Cook. Try to say goodbye to restaurants, fast food places, and greasy spoons, at least for dinner and breakfast. Problem is, you can’t control the ingredients or portions when someone else is doing the culinary duty. Case in point: I tend to have high blood pressure and don’t need all the salt that they seem to administer with a front end loader. Can’t cook? Take a cooking class or just practice, practice, practice. Controlling quality an portions is especially important if you are on an intermittent fasting regimen.

Warm-up before Your Run and Stretch Afterwards. Many runners neglect these two steps and that’s just wrong. Warming up will loosen the muscles that you need limber in order to hit your stride. You might not feel like you need to stretch afterwards (you are already loose as a goose) but during cooling down your muscles will begin to contract rapidly. Static stretching, not ballistic, can prolong that action and reduce soreness. A foam roller can work wonders. Focus on your calves, hip flexors and hamstrings.

Slather on that Sunscreen. Running for hours and hours is a blessing and a curse as far as the sun is concerned. On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about a vitamin D deficiency. On the other hand, your chances of developing skin cancer go way, way up. As a general population, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer. Ouch. And that estimate also takes those milky-white goth folks into account. Try to use a sports sunscreen; it will not sweat off as easily.

Finally, Get Plenty of Sleep. Sleep is essential for all of us but it is especially critical for runners because the body undergoes some major repair action when we check into nod-land. In fact people that are taking statin medications to control cholesterol are advised to take it only at bedtime because that is when the blood really gets cleaned up.  Cutting back on sleep can cut the amount of glycogen that your body will store for fuel and may result in weight gain. And besides all those interesting facts, the dreams are just fun, right? If you want to boost the enjoyment level, work on developing your lucid dreaming abilities.

Hopefully, this article provided a bit of inspiration. If you need to work on one or more of these 10 habits of highly-successful runners, now is the time. Start working them in one at a time and chart your results. And have fun.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Running Recovery for any Distance

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This article was updated on 03/05/20.

Upper thigh muscle pain from running.
Upper thigh muscle pain from running.

Experienced runners have learned how to listen to their bodies and know all too well how to tread the thin line between injury and the optimal health that leads to peak performance. They understand and implement running recovery methods for any distance.

The Physiological Reasons for Recovery

First the good news—running causes your body to produce endorphins. These are the chemicals responsible for the so-called “runner’s high.” There’s no need for recovery there.

Not surprisingly, of all the elements of your physical makeup your muscles sustain the most damage during a run. The longer the run is, how challenging the route is and your present level of conditioning are the main factors that determine the amount of damage.

The larger muscle groups such as the buttocks and the thighs shoulder most of the load and consequently sustain the most damage. Generally the damage is temporary and nothing to worry about. This is often referred  to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This is usually experienced after adding mileage to your weekly long run or tackling a marathon.

Running Recovery Guidelines for Different Distances

As you might imagine, the longer the distance is, the more involved and important recovery techniques become. Here are some to consider:

  • Typical training runs. Most of your mileage is of the familiar day-in, day-out variety. These workouts may not cause any soreness but it is important to follow these 7 basic running recovery tips. Cooling down properly, stretching and re-hydrating will go far in ensuring that you can lace up tomorrow injury-free!

  • 5K, 10K and half-marathon races. Any of these will impose more stress on your body than a training run. You still need to follow the basic tips but you might find it beneficial to take a very slow cool-down run after re-hydrating. Also, do some light stretching before climbing in the car for the ride home.

  • Full-marathon and ultramarathon recovery. Now you are entering into a more complex recovery situation; your muscles are almost certainly experiencing some micro-tearing and need some serious TLC. This calls for a multi-day recovery. Of course you will be building from all the recovery actions listed for shorter distances but you should add more rest to begin with.

Be generous with the ice packs for the next week or so, whenever you note soreness or a twinge of pain. Feel free to be a lazy bum (no activity) the first day following the event but eat copiously and nutritionally. Begin light stretching on the second day. Beginning on the third day short, easy recovery runs are in order but only if you feel like it.

As soon as you feel up to it, get back to your normal base. To insure staying injury-free, don’t neglect to incorporate your warm-up routine prior to every run. It may be tempting to skip but it is one of the best investments you can make.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Homemade Oatmeal Flax Seed Bread Recipe

Mixing ingredients for oatmeal flax seed bread
Mixing ingredients for oatmeal flax seed bread


I can safely state that one thing I cannot tolerate is store-bought white bread. It’s full of crap ingredients and air. If I can’t buy some good stuff, I just prefer to make my own. The good thing about homemade bread is that I get to control the ingredients.

So, that being said, here is the recipe for the oatmeal flax/chia seed whole wheat bread that I baked today. I like to pair it with a bowl of Panamanian-style ceviche but it works fine by itself or toasted. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Flax/Chia Seed Whole Wheat Bread Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic milk
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • Enough whole wheat flour for mixing and kneading
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 2.25 oz. pecans, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • Rapid-rise yeast

Assembly and Baking

  • The oats are not as as processed as the instant kind so mix them with the milk and allow them to soak for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Mix in the yeast, egg, seeds, bran, pecans, and enough whole wheat flour to where you have to turn it out and knead it.
  • Knead the loaf, adding flour, until you have a proper consistency. The more you knead it, the better texture it will have.
  • Butter the loaf pan and press the dough down into it.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  • Let the loaf cool on a rack.
  • Enjoy!

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Delicious Pizza Margherita Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

This Classic Pizza Boasts Minimal Ingredients and Classic Taste

A homemade pizza Margherita baked and ready
A homemade pizza Margherita baked and ready
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This article was updated on 01/14/21.

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The pizza Margherita is something of a minimalist pizza pie (in my opinion). That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it by adding anything that floats your boat.  Word has it that in June of 1889 Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created it to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. He garnished it with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent Italy’s national colors as they are on the Italian flag. In case you wanted that bit of trivia.

Despite the simplicity of the recipe, there are a number of variations. For example, some recipes call for the basil to be added after the pie is done. I prefer to put it under the cheese before baking so the herbs flavor cooks into the cheese and sauce. Your option; no judgement here.

Optional Pizza Making Equipment

If you really get into making your own pizzas, I recommend:

My well-used pizza stone
My well-used pizza stone
  • A pizza stone. This is essential if you want top-notch pizza. A good pizza stone does wonders for your crust development because, unlike a baking sheet, it’s completely heated before the pizza is placed upon it. and that, my friend, is how you achieve a crisp and chewy crust that you can’t get out of a box. As you can see above, mine has some serious mileage on it.
  • A pizza peal. This is one of your best friends when using a stone. The one in the image below is typical. You build the pie on it, you transport the pie on it, and you can cut the pie on it. No muss, no fuss.
My pizza peal
My pizza peal

Pizza Crust Considerations

You basically have two choices. If you have the time and inclination, make your own. Check out this pizza crust recipe. If you are pressed for time, simply buy a crust in the grocery store. Don’t go for the really cheap ones. You get what you pay for.

The good thing about making your own crust is that you can add in just about anything—herbs, flax seeds, you name it. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. If you don’t have issues with glutin, toss in a teaspoon. Glutin is a wheat protein that holds breads together.

Pizza Topping Ingredients

  • 7 roma tomatoes. You can use the big slicers but the romas are much more economical. Slice ’em or dice ’em, or blend ’em.
  • Mozzarella cheese. How much you use is up to you. Slice it about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and place it randomly (see the video in the link below under Preparation to see what I like).
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil.

That’s pretty much it for the basic ingredient list. Have fun with it and throw on anything that suits your fancy.

Preparation

This is very easy. Spread the tomatoes out evenly leaving about 1/2 inch around the edge “naked.” Add the basil. Add the cheese randomly. Watch the video. Have patience; it takes a while to load.

Bake that Baby

Preheat your oven (with the pizza stone on an oven rack) to 500 degrees. Bake it until the dough is crisp and browned and the cheese is golden and bubbling in spots. This will usually be from 13 to 16 minutes; just keep an eye on it.  Slide your pie off the peal onto the stone. Let it rest about 5 minutes and then slice and enjoy!

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.