Fleas! We know them well – or at least we live with them if we have animals.

The fleas we see on our pets are only the tip of the iceberg – for each one we find on Spot or Kitty, hundreds more live in or on our rugs, hardwood floors, couch, bathroom, patio, garage – you get the picture.

Thousands of the pre-flea stages also thrive in our environment, immune to most adult flea treatments.

We must understand the perseverance and tenacity of this foe if we are going to beat him, and this is where I find most people err. Bathing your pets is important, but that alone won’t solve the problem.

Let’s target the environment and the immature flea stages, where the vast majority of the problem lies.

Growth regulators address specific stages of the flea’s life cycle. Immature flea stages exposed to these compounds become arrested in their development; they cannot molt to the next stage, so they never become adult fleas. Because these compounds are specific to the flea, they are safe to us and to our animals. These products are available in combination with house treatments, or as sprays or collars for pets.

A pill is now available for dogs, and soon for cats, that can help gain control of a flea problem in two months. The pill, Program, is taken monthly, and has an active ingredient that is a development inhibitor.

Adult fleas ingest the compound while feeding on a pet, and although the adult flea isn’t killed, the compound breaks the life cycle of that flea by preventing it from reproducing. This product is safe, effective and has been used in South Africa and parts of Europe for years. It can only be obtained through a veterinarian.

For your lawn, try Interrupt, a nematode product. Nematodes are worm-like creatures that eventually attack the immature stages of the flea, again preventing development to adulthood. Because they’re living creatures, they require particular conditions – no cooler than 50 degrees or warmer than 90 degrees – and you must keep your lawn watered. It’s environmentally friendly and seems to work.

Good luck, and let the battle again.