Warm weather marks the onset of flea season, a dreaded time of year for many pet owners. The tiny parasites infest our pets and invade our yards and homes, reproducing at a rapid rate. Chemical pesticides are effective, but may leave behind toxic residues that could harm animals and humans. Natural flea killers, such as lemon juice, are also effective in the battle against fleas.
Flea Life Cycle
Fleas live a short life, surviving for just over a year and as little as one week if they cannot find a suitable meal of blood. An adult female flea may lay up to 20 eggs daily. Eggs hatch in two weeks or less, producing flea larvae that develop into mature fleas in stages that take up to eight months. Fleas prefer warm, humid environments with temperatures of 70 F or higher. The key to flea control is to break this life cycle and kill off the fleas and their offspring.
D-limonene is a citrus extract derived from the lemon. This extract is used in flea control shampoos, rinses, tonics and sprays. When d-limonene comes into contact with fleas or flea larvae, it covers their body. As it sits on their bodies, the extract dissolves the waxy protective coating on the fleas. This prevents the fleas from holding in moisture and quickly dehydrates and kills the fleas.
Types of Sprays
Lemon juice sprays automatically contain the d-limonene ingredient. These sprays may be purchased in pet supply or natural foods stores or made at home out of simple ingredients. Lemon juice sprays may be used in the home or directly on pets without harming the pets or any humans living in the home. Spraying on pets should be thorough but concentrated on areas such as the ears, head and neck. The sprays may also be used outdoors, but may negatively effect any plants it touches. Instead, focus outdoor lemon juice spraying on hard surfaces, dirt or brush piles and outdoor furniture.
Other Lemon Options
D-limonene extract is also found in citrus essential oils and peels. Score a lemon peel by making tiny cuts in it and toss the peels around outdoor areas to kill and repel fleas in those areas. Rub or add a few drops of lemon essential oil to furniture, under furniture, onto pet collars and bedding and into trim work and woodwork in the home. Be careful using essential oils around cats as they have negative reactions to essential oils, including death.