Happy Summer Everyone! Whew . . . it's been an unusually hot and humid season here in Maine, but it's nothing compared to what the rest of the country has been experiencing! Glad I live way up north!! Can you guess what irritating pests thrive in heat and humidity (aside from mosquitoes and biting flies)?? Fleas and ticks!
I visited my local veterinarian's office just the other day to purchase a bag of grain-free kibble for my 2 cats and inquired as to how the flea problem was this year, and almost in unison, the entire front-office staff said, "Horrible!" "People are buying Advantage and Frontline flea and tick products (and home foggers) like crazy, yet still complaining about the situation!" How sad . . . exposing your pet(s) - and family - to all those chemicals, itching, and scratching (and potential tapeworm) when there are safe, herbal solutions available that really work.
Well, that's what I'm here to talk about today. My cats no longer suffer from the skin/mucous membrane irritation and toxicity from spot-on, chemical, flea- and tick-control "drops" or the powders. I quit using those years ago and now use only natural products that I create myself. They work great! I follow a weekly flea and tick prevention protocol and have nary a pest this year. I comb my cats daily, vacuum the house 2x weekly to suck up any fleas, larvae, or eggs that might be lurking, apply herbal flea/tick control powders to my floors and carpets 1x per week, and apply safe, effective powders to my cats. It initially takes a bit of effort in the beginning - when transitioning from chemical flea/tick products to natural ones - but once you get ahead of the flea/tick cycle of reproduction, then your problem will be over (or significantly minimized) and your house and pets will smell great and be all the more healthy for your efforts - that's a guarantee!
So, today, I'm going to share with you some introductory information about natural flea/tick powder ingredients and one of my recipes for the powders that I sprinkle on my cats. You can find my full protocol of methods/recipes and ingredient resource lists in my latest book, "Naturally Bug-Free: 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects" (c2016 Storey Publishing).
DIY Herbal/Natural Flea- & Tick-Control Powders
In my book, I have 3 recipes for flea/tick control powders, and these mildly aromatic recipes combine insecticidal herbs and essential oils with food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) -available from your local hardware store or online - and powdered bentonite clay (BC) - available from www.mountainroseherbs.com, two mineral-rich substances that deliver a double-pronged deathblow to fleas and unattached ticks. They are powerful desiccants, due to the abrasive action of the silica on the parasite's exoskeleton, and they also clog the insect's breathing channels, leading to death within 24 to 72 hours.
These powders work remarkably well when applied regularly, once or twice per week, especially during the warmer months (providing you follow the entire herbal house care protocol that is outlined in my book). No worries about your pets licking themselves, either, - ingesting DE and BC will even add valuable minerals to their dietary intake, and the high silica content assists as a natural dewormer. Additionally, the powder acts as a deodorizer and dry shampoo, leaving your pet's coat smelling fresh and clean.
General Instructions: Each of the recipes in my book yields 2 cups of powder. You'll need a bowl and whisk, and a plastic, cardboard, metal, or glass application and storage container. A good application container is a recycled herb or spice jar with a perforated lid or use a pint canning jar and poke holes in the top with a fat nail and a hammer. If you use the latter, be sure to place a piece of plastic wrap over the jar to seal it after you've sprinkled your cats, then screw on the metal lid.
Combine the DE and/or BC with any other dry ingredients specified in a medium bowl and gently whisk to blend. Add the essential oils, scattering the drops around the powder, and whisk again to combine. Loosely spoon the mixture into the container(s), then shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Label and date the powder. Allow the powder to synergize for 24 hours prior to use. Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year.
Application: To ensure maximum effectiveness, sprinkle the powder evenly and uniformly from nose to tail, and as close to the skin as possible, massaging it in really well. Fleas and ticks will rush to any part of your pet that is dust-free, so address the entire face, ears, genitals, anus, and between the toes. When applying to the face, be extra careful not to get powder in the eyes, nose, or mouth, as it can possibly be irritating to mucous membranes. Repeat once or twice per week, as needed, to control fleas and ticks.
To prevent making a dust cloud in your home, I suggest powdering both your indoor and outdoor pets outside, keeping them controlled with a comfortable harness and leash (this includes cats). Most pets will shake off much of the powder immediately after being treated, but if you've massaged it close to the skin, a sufficient amount should remain to do the job.
Recipe: Bugs-Be-Gone Powder
I tend to favor light, floral aromas in the spring and summer, which is when I generally apply pest-repelling powders to my indoor cats, so this delicate lavender-rose scented formula is a favorite - it makes their fur smell oh-so-nice!
- 1 cup food-grade diatomaceous earth (package MUST say "food-grade")
- 1/2 cup neem leaf powder (available from www.mountainroseherbs.com)
- 1/2 cup lavender flower powder (available from www.mountainroseherbs.com)
- 10 drops geranium essential oil
Note: Omit essential oils in powders made for cats and for dogs under 1 year old.
Caution: When treating mature pets under 5 pounds or young kittens and puppies, carefully apply very small amounts of powder to one section of the body at a time, massaging it into the skin very gently to minimize dust.
Note: The information in this blog has been written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from the material in her book, Naturally Bug-Free (c2016 Storey Publishing), with permission. The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author. Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.