Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Got Fleas? Grab the Hoover!

Homeowners dogged by household fleas need look no farther than the broom closet to solve their problem. Scientists have determined that vacuuming kills fleas in all stages of their lives, with an average of 96 percent success in adult fleas and 100 percent destruction of younger fleas.

In fact, the results were so surprisingly definitive that the lead scientist, an Ohio State University insect specialist, repeated the experiments several times to be sure the findings were correct.

The lead researcher also examined vacuum bags for toxicity and exposed fleas to churning air in separate tests to further explore potential causes of flea death. He and a colleague believed that the damaging effects of the brushes, fans and powerful air currents in vacuum cleaners combine to kill the fleas. The study used a single model of an upright vacuum, but researchers don't think the vacuum design has much bearing on the results.

"No matter what vacuum a flea gets sucked into, it's probably a one-way trip," said Glen Needham, associate professor of entomology at Ohio State and a co-author of the study.

Needham theorized that the vacuum brushes wear away the cuticle, a waxy outer later on fleas and most insects that allows the bugs to stay hydrated. Without the waxy protection, the adult fleas. larvae and pupae probably dry up and die, he said.

He also said the effectiveness of some insecticides is likely to decrease as fleas inevitably develop resistance to the currently available compounds. Because of that, Needham is among researchers seeking other nontoxic ways to kill fleas and other household pests, including studying the use of ultraviolet light.

read the full article from Ohio State University, "Cat Fleas' Journey Into The Vacuum Is A 'One-Way Trip'", Dec 14, 2007- see FAIR USE notice.
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