Successful flea treatments require proper site preparation.

Josh Rzepka, president of Enviro-Pest Solutions in Waterloo, Iowa, gives customers a prep sheet, similar to when he does bed bug jobs. “These are the things that need to be met for us to do the treatment properly. Sometimes we will help them prep,” especially if they’re elderly, he said. Homeowners must sign off on Rzepka’s prep requirements to ensure they understand their role in the process.

Without customer cooperation, getting control is much more difficult. “If they haven’t done anything, you’re pretty much assured it isn’t going to be an easy job,” said Glenn Fordham, Olympic Pest & Termite Control.

For 65 percent of PMPs who participated in the PCT 2021 State of the Flea Control Market survey, prep involves vacuuming. Kerry Lindsey, Terminix Service Company, tells customers to vacuum using the beater brush. This creates vibrations that mimic those of a walking mammal, triggering early adult fleas to emerge from pupae.

In addition to carpeting, he advises clients to vacuum hardwood, tile, laminate and vinyl floors. Flea eggs, larvae, pupae, feces and pet dander can collect in the cracks and crevices between joints and under baseboards. “It’s an ideal spot for them,” said Lindsey, who also recommends vacuuming under appliances in laundry rooms.

Additional prep requirements include picking items up off the floor, washing bed linens (if pets sleep on beds), washing or disposing of pet bedding and toys, cutting the lawn if outdoor treatment is needed, and treating animals with a veterinarian-approved flea treatment.

“On-pet treatments are crucial,” said Lance Griggs, Spectrum Pest Management.

Dan Ledbetter, Eagle Pest Control “The Ant King of Brevard,” agreed. “You’re just going to keep going back if you’re not treating the animal,” he said. According to the PCT survey, 84 percent of PMPs recommend clients get pets treated by the vet or use an over-the-counter flea treatment prior to flea control service.

Most PMPs (89 percent) use an insect growth regulator (IGR) as part of their flea control protocol, and 81 percent use a combination of IGR and general insecticide as their primary treatment regimen.

“Any company doing flea control and not using an insect growth regulator is chasing their own tail. You’ve got to have the insect growth regulator with the adulticide, without a doubt,” said Lindsey.

In addition to treating indoors, nearly three quarters (74 percent) of PMPs perform outdoor treatments. Griggs likes to use insecticide granules outdoors. “Granules are slow but good, especially if we’re getting some rain or if people overdo it with their sprinkler systems,” he said.

The average time spent performing a typical residential flea control job was 1.1 hours, found the PCT survey.

Post-treatment instructions are provided to customers by 58 percent of PMPs. Ongoing vacuuming and pet treatment top the list of must-do activities, they reported in follow-up interviews.