Reduce Your Wild Mammal Population
Fleas need warm-blooded animals for food and egg development. By eliminating suitable habitat for rodents and other animals near structures you can reduce flea populations. Screened vents prevent animals from resting inside or underneath the house. Clearing weeds and other vegetation away from the house or other structures, as well as raising woodpiles off the ground, reduces hiding places for rodents or other small animals that harbor fleas.
Many small animal pests are discussed in detail elsewhere in Yardener’s Helper, including gophers, mice, voles, rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks.
Create Landscape Diversity
It is a good idea to encourage the many insects and animals that normally prey on insect pests. These natural predators come in all shapes and sizes. While many are insects themselves, others are microscopic organisms, amphibians, or birds. The more of these different kinds of predators live in your yard, the fewer pest insect problems you will have. They will take up residence in a yard that includes their favorite plants and other foods. The greater the variety of plants on your property, the greater will be the diversity of natural enemies of fleas, such as spiders, ants, and ground beetles, that will be attracted to it.
Correct Conditions That Encourage Fleas
Besides general yard cleanup, trim lawns and adjacent shrubbery to create a drier, less friendly environment for fleas. Avoid leaving piles of sand and gravel around the home for long periods. Wash or destroy infested pet bedding. Have your pets groomed regularly, or try it yourself with a fine comb available from pet stores or the veterinarian.
Fleas have many natural enemies outdoors. Ants and spiders are among the greatest controllers of flea eggs and mature adult fleas. Some species of rove beetles are parasitic on fleas. Note that if you are mowing your lawn too short, you are setting up potentially attractive conditions for fleas. A lawn mowed shorter than 2 inches seldom has much of a population of ants and spiders because they are too vulnerable to ground-feeding birds.
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Feed Birds Year Round
Next to beneficial insects, songbirds consume the most pest insects in your yard. Virtually any bird that is willing to work on the ground will feed on adult fleas. So the ubiquitous sparrow and the unwanted starling happen to be excellent flea exterminators! Encourage birds to settle in or near your yard and prey on fleas by offering them food, water, and shelter.