To make a homemade flea trap, you'll need a light source, a shallow container and either sticky paper or water and dish soap. By itself, a flea trap probably won't solve your whole problem. They're effective, though, when combined with other common-sense measures such as thorough cleaning and treatment of infested pets, and can help you get an idea of how bad your flea problem is by allowing you to count the trapped fleas. Commercial flea traps are just a slightly fancier version of the kind you can make yourself.
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How Flea Traps Work
Fleas are attracted to light. Positioning a light source over a container of water and dish soap or one lined with sticky paper entices the fleas to leap toward the light, whereupon they fall into the container and are trapped. Dish soap prevents the fleas from being able to stay on the surface of the water.
Flea Trap Receptacles
Any wide, shallow receptacle such as a pie plate, wide-mouthed bowl or baking pan can serve as the base for your flea trap. Light colors are better, because they increase the trap's attractiveness to light-hungry fleas. If you're using sticky paper, line the bottom and inner sides. If you're using water and dish soap, make sure your container won't tip easily, and add an inch or two of water and a few drops of dish soap.
Flea Trap Lighting
Position your light source directly above the trap, while making certain that it can't fall in and create the danger of electrical shock or fire. Desk lights or clip lights can work well. You can also position your flea trap directly underneath a plug-in nightlight, or float a small tea light candle on the surface if you're using water. For maximum effectiveness, the flea trap light should be the only light source in a dark room.
Eliminating Your Flea Problem
Bathe pets in warm water that contains nontoxic dish detergent, and allow the soapy water to remain on the pet for 10 minutes; then use a vinegar rinse. Launder infested bedding and clothing in hot water; add borax powder -- also known as sodium borate -- for best results. Sprinkle borax powder or apply pesticide directly into corners and cracks where fleas can hide, paying special attention to pets' favorite spots. If you're using a commercial pesticide, follow instructions carefully. Make sure all food is secured away from the area being treated, and keep kids and pets out until the product is cleaned up. Vacuum thoroughly, emptying the vacuum or changing the bag outdoors directly into a double garbage bag.