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Get Rid of Fleas—Without Terrible Toxins!
Question. Our yard is a highway for stray cats;whenever we let our dogs out, they come back in the house with fleas.What can we do to get rid of fleas in our yard? Thanks!
                      ----Marita and Michael; South Kensington,Philadelphia

Mike: My daughter's family just movedinto a new house they built in Oklahoma, and fleas have turned up. Theyneed organic ways to rid the house of these pests that will not beharmful to her children. Thanks for any help you can give.  
                      ---Concerned grandmother Karla

Mike: Our cat recently brought fleasin with him and we are now infested with the little buggers. Is thereany way we can execute them safely? Please help!
                      ---Scratching Steve; Atco, NJ

Answer. Well, I assure you that I know what todo here, because I recently had to evict these unwelcome visitors frommy own home! So did our musical director, Kenn Kweder. And a weakenedkitty may have been the cause in both cases.

The McGrath home is Stray CatCentral; our current brood includes one rescued as an almost-deadkitten from a farm (Tigger, aka "Fat Boy"), one that was dropped on ourvet's doorstep at the age of one day and raised by us since Day Two(that's Squeeky, "the bad girl"), and a once-feral cat rescued during aVirginia vacation with the help of Alley Cat Allies, specialists inwild cat rescue and rehab (www.alleycat.org). That's "the baby", whose proper name isHoudini, but who we always call Dini; she vanished this summer and thenreappeared after two weeks, hungry, frazzled and talking up a storm. Afew days later, my son Max is asking what all these little black bugswere on his ankles.

The exact same thing happened toKenny a week or so later. His rescued stray disappears, reappears aweek later, ill and all shaken up, and before you know it, Kenny'sankles are also a blood donation center.

Last time I had fleas (way back incollege, when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I bombed the house withfoggers and now shuddered at the thought. Then I found a brand withvery acceptable ingredients—a natural, botanical insecticide and aninsect growth regulator. So we vacuumed, left while the foggers didtheir job, and aired the place out for a couple of hours before we wentback in, pleased that there was no residual smell whatsoever.

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You Bet Your Garden  ©2004 Mike McGrath