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Help a brother out?

Anybody got a good home remedy, repellant, preventative or treatment for flea bites? Second year running Uncle B’s been eaten alive with fleas. Really, his ankles are a mess.

They go after him in preference to the cat.

Me? Not a bite. Same thing for mosquitoes, which season we’re just coming into — he gets bitten all to shit, I haven’t had a nibble since I’ve been here.

We’ve got the cat on Frontline (the back-of-the-neck thing) and Program (screws with their eggs; goes in her food). I’ve vacuumed and sprayed the carpet (semi-)regularly. He’s tried tea tree oil, lavender oil, antihistamine cream, rockinghorse shit. About the only thing giving him any relief is some calendula hippie crap.

Any suggestions?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 20, 2010, 10:26 pm

That is, in fact, my picture of a cat flea off of Charlotte. I took it when she was a baby, many years ago. Microscopy is another of my vices.

And I’m not always immune to flea and skeeter bites. I used to get bitten all to shit in Tennessee. And the skeeters used to get me in Rhode Island.

Maybe it’s something about your native insects?

Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 20, 2010, 10:30 pm

I’d suggest a flea dip, but Badgers would be tough to hold down.

The wasp-sting stuff, mainly ammonia I think, will sting like crap but usually kills the itch. Otherwise I’d be a’spraying my shoes, cuffs and socks with some strong DEET.

The down side of flea-treating the pets is that until the hatch cycle breaks…they just move to the next available meat-sack for their meals.

When I smoked ciggy’s it seemed like the skeeters never botherd me. Probably just in my head…

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 20, 2010, 10:40 pm

heavy regimine of vacuuming followed by a liberal dose of flea powder or spray worked into every crevace in the floor. Get a dose of flea poison for the yard and spray liberally on the grass and hedges.

as far as the itch, try benadryl. It’s the best thing for histamine reactions, and clear nail polish on the bites (cuts off the oxygen from the injury)

Comment from Allen
Time: July 20, 2010, 10:45 pm

Soybean oil works pretty well as a repellent/suffocant. Just apply it around the ankles and such.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 20, 2010, 10:50 pm

Stoopid weasel! It ain’t calendula – though it is disgustngly hippy.

Having been down the entire aisle at the pharmacist’s the only damned thing that I’ve found to offer any relief is some Weleda stuff that has alcohol, stinging nettle (urtica) and arnica in it.

Tried the usual antihistamines, Benadryl etc….

I keep telling myself it’s the alcohol that works and that Eric Cartman is right about hippies….

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 20, 2010, 11:18 pm

UB, try dapping a couple of the bites with clear nail polish and see if that stops them from itching. works wonders on chigger bites…..

Also try some witch hazel if it’s available. Preparation H ass-cleaning pads are rife with it.

Comment from Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Time: July 20, 2010, 11:28 pm

Mosquitoes: I read somewhere that you get bit but just acclimate to the anticoagulants your local variety injects and don’t react. Dunno ’bout that. Fleas: Someone suggested high doses of B vitamins or nutritional yeast to make yourself unpalatable to fleas. Might work; yeast tastes awful.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 20, 2010, 11:38 pm

Yeah. Having heard brewer’s yeast is good for you, I tried some mixed up in orange juice. I made an orange volcano!

Comment from David Gillies
Time: July 20, 2010, 11:50 pm

Have you tried putting a flea collar on him?

It’s strange antihistamines don’t work. I have a cream brand name of Systral which is chlorphenoxamine hydrochloride and it works wonders on mosquito bites.

Comment from OldNuc
Time: July 21, 2010, 12:02 am

Outside, dust yellow sulfur powder on your ankles and lower legs under your socks. Inside, place old style naphthalene based moth balls in the vacuum cleaner bag. The fumes kill them dead.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: July 21, 2010, 12:44 am

Inside, set off flea bombs, one for every room, every two weeks for two months. That should kill all the inside bastards. Outside you need to put bug killing stuff on the lawn and around your hedges…Scottsdale brand always worked the best for us. Once a month, all summer long.

Comment from harrison
Time: July 21, 2010, 12:48 am

Put a light ( desk lamp ) over a pan of water on the floor.
Fleas go for the light; end up in the water, drowned.

No. Really.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 21, 2010, 12:57 am

and if you use the light and water, set up a webcam too so we can watch.

Kind of a nice Vincent Price moment at the bug zapper..

Mrs. Price “How do you like the new bug zapper, dear?”

Vincent, watching mosquitos explode.. “It’s GLORIOUS!”

Comment from JOAN STITT
Time: July 21, 2010, 1:17 am

A food supplement containing garlic and vinegar (or lots of Italian dressing on Uncle B’s salad) may change the pH of his skin enough to make him unpalatable to the skeeters and flea circus. Wouldn’t hurt to try it. It may take a little time for the effect to be seen, since he’ll still be itching from bites he’s already gotten, but once his body chemistry has changed a bit you may see some good results.

Comment from rustbucket
Time: July 21, 2010, 1:40 am

It sounds crazy, but if you rub a drier sheet (Downy works well and smells purty too) on exposed skin areas, the skeeters won’t come near. As for fleas, I’ve heard the water-n-light rig works right good.
My two grandkids are outside most days and the skeeters avoid ’em like…like…do I have to say it?…THE PLAGUE!

Comment from Mal
Time: July 21, 2010, 2:57 am

Have you ruled out a burlap bag?

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: July 21, 2010, 3:49 am

Well, The New England Journal of Medicine basically says if it ain’t at least 23.8% DEET, it ain’t shit.

DEET compounds apparently will last up to 5 hours, one of the soybean oil based repellents apparently made it up to about 95 minutes, and garlic, brewers yeast and thiamine are worthless.

Comment from Pavel
Time: July 21, 2010, 4:52 am

More than likely you are getting bit as much as Uncle B, stoaty. He’s probably just more allergic. I am regularly feasted on by such critters without a mark, while my wife gets welts if they so much as breathe in her direction.

Insect bombs are the only solution, and you have to do three of them over a six week period. The bombs kill adults and larvae, but not cocooned eggs. Spray the carpets, and saturate them deeply; use twice as much as you think you need. Wash/comb/flea collar the hell out of the cat, and throw out/burn/wash in very hot water any pillows or carpets the cat likes to hang out on. Repeat every two weeks for six weeks.

If all else fails, cut off Uncle B’s legs above the knees. This will permanently solve the ankle bite problems.

Comment from Kat
Time: July 21, 2010, 4:59 am

Diatomaceous (probably spelled that wrong) Earth, sprinkled liberally around the premesis. Not only will it kill fleas, but it’s also good for ants, roaches, etc., and is eco-friendly! (I know, I know, *GAG*, but it does work) Get a good insect fogger/bomb type product, and be prepared to set them off over your entire house every other week for 6 weeks. Vaccum like mad, and wash everything that can be washed in hot water.

Comment from The Spelling Police
Time: July 21, 2010, 5:24 am

Diatomaceous is the correct spelling. Congratulations. . .but don’t become complacent because WE ARE OUT THERE! Sniffing out misspellings, and believe us–we WILL take action when you commit one!

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: July 21, 2010, 6:58 am

When I smoked ciggy’s it seemed like the skeeters never botherd me. Probably just in my head…

No, it was in your bloodstream. Nicotine’s an alkaloid poisonous to *all* insects, and they can smell it.

I like see-gars. Four dogs and never had a flea bite, and I’ve seen the little beasties dancing around my feet, trying to decide whether suicide is worth the blood meal…

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Time: July 21, 2010, 11:48 am

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Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 21, 2010, 11:50 am

Huh. People on the poultry forum sprinkle diatomaceous earth on their chicken runs to keep down red mites and other insects that prey on chooks. It never occurred to me to treat the whole outdoors for fleas.

Comment from steve
Time: July 21, 2010, 12:01 pm

Some millenia from now, an entire stratum of diatomacious earth, several feet thick, will be unearthed at the archeological dig, currently known as Badger House….

Scientists will ponder the mechanisms and peculiar micro-climate conditions that enabled such a localized deep ocean environment to have thrived so as to have deposited so many many little diatom skeletons, right there….but not into their next door neighbor’s sheep pasture…..

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: July 21, 2010, 12:36 pm

Flea bombs work in the house. The new ones also contain something that prevents the fleas that hatch from the eggs from maturing. They have the additional benefit of killing all the other little residents that are living rent free.

Since your cats wander the garden, I’d do the (cut) diatomacious earth (paste) thing outside too. * Of course I can spell that!

Steel yourself for the fact that there is no victory possible here. However, as I said about my work the other day, you can move the bastards back to the edge of effective rifle range.

As for the itch – gin liberally applied externally and internally will soothe most itches. You do have gin in England, don’t you?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 21, 2010, 1:04 pm

Yea is her Stoatiness blessed with a fine arrray of generous commenters!

Thanks for all the suggestions. I rather like Pavel’s hacking my legs off option, best – that’s what I feel like doing when the bastards start-up at 5 am.

I don’t think flea bombs are available here in this benighted Eurodump (the EU has apparently banned pyrethrum for garden use, would you believe?) but all suggestions will be weighed and considered. Who knows, one day I might yet become a flea-free badger again?

I am truly touched [dabs at eyes with handkerchief, hides onion, back off stage in search of gin bottle…. ]

Comment from surly ermine
Time: July 21, 2010, 1:14 pm

I’m taking in all these suggestions too. My daughter came home from the county fair last nite with what appear to be flea bites from ankles to knees. She asked me “What can you get from fleas?”. “Oh, maybe the plague. Nite-nite.”

Comment from bill emory
Time: July 21, 2010, 1:15 pm


Doesn’t kill the fleas, but keeps them from coming back…

Precor IGR’s molecules move to the places pre-adult fleas live, like the base of carpet fibers and between furniture cushions – in short, the sources of a flea infestation. Precor IGR targets fleas in the egg and larval stages of development. As a result, pre-adult fleas cannot produce new infestations of breeding, biting adults. PREVENTS ADULT FLEA EMERGENCE FOR 7 MONTHS.

Comment from Bob
Time: July 21, 2010, 3:51 pm

I recommend permethrin chicken dust. Just sprinkle the tiniest bit on your socks and pant cuffs.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 21, 2010, 4:18 pm

You’re a model of fatherhood, Surly.

Comment from lauraw
Time: July 21, 2010, 5:09 pm

We used diluted Creolin to de-flea our house when I was a kid. After our last cat died we started getting bitten like crazy.

It smelled awful but it did work.

We put a capful in the washwater with all the linens, wiped down the upholstery, mopped the floors, etc. with that stuff. Well diluted.

Did I mention it stinks?

Comment from Mantesdoca
Time: July 21, 2010, 5:26 pm

SF Bay Area is notorious for flea problems. The only solution we ever found involved calling in a pest company every three months and spraying the interior and immediate exterior of the house. No people or animals can remain in proximity until several hours afterwards. We wouldn’t have had to spray so frequently except the depraved, hippy losers next door wouldn’t take care of their suffering dogs. Used to scratch until they bled. I called the authorities on them twice but because the dogs were well fed and contained, it was okay to torture them with fleas. They were Afghans. Gorgeous really and not cheap.

Comment from Mantesdoca
Time: July 21, 2010, 5:39 pm

Oh, and Surley? Don’t know where the fair might have been but my husband and I contracted a huge dose of chigger bites at a wonderful family reunion in Louisiana several years ago. The lush lawns that motivated us to remove shoes and recline on, were the domicile of these horrible little bugs that lay their eggs under your skin. The bites lasted for weeks. We ultimately soaked our legs in Clorox on the advice of an uncle which finally did the trick. The little bxstards apparently hatch under your skin. Good grief.

Comment from Clifford Scridlow
Time: July 21, 2010, 5:53 pm

Mantesdoca – In the Sportsman’s Paradise, those would have been called “red bugs”. The wife’s side of the family in the northern part of the state didn’t know what chiggers were. Loopy intoxicated great aunt what’s her name made the trip that year when she suggested, in full voice, and in very mixed company at the drug store, that we ought to call them “cheegroes”, to be polite and all. . . Next time try the fingernail polish. Works good.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 21, 2010, 6:51 pm

Ach! Chiggers are teh WORST.

That’s another affliction I only seem to get visiting Tennessee — not when I lived there.

Comment from Joan of Argghh!
Time: July 21, 2010, 6:52 pm

Confortis. Worth every penny. Give it to the cat, and leave one around for any other vermin that may have access to the living areas.

My Blue Heeler was miserable with fleas under her thick coat, in Florida, the flea capital. Impossible to rid them with applied apothecaries.

First, a Capstar”kill-pill” for the cat that kills all fleas within an hour. Then once-a-month Confortis that neuters the fleas or something magical. I’ve been flea-free for a year now and my Pepper Dog has never been a happier, livelier creature, and I’ve forgotten what a flea bite feels like. They may bite Badger, but they still re-populate on kitty cats and other animals.

Comment from Joan of Argghh!
Time: July 21, 2010, 6:54 pm

Oh, and Sevin Dust, (malathion) if they still allow it (illegal in the US now), is teh awesome for application to the rugs.

Comment from Sigivald
Time: July 21, 2010, 8:15 pm

Bits on the ankles?

The solution there is boots, and wait for the damned fleas to die from lack of food.

Comment from gebrauchshund
Time: July 21, 2010, 8:59 pm

lauraw –

wouldn’t it have been easier and less smelly to just get another cat?

Comment from Lipstick
Time: July 21, 2010, 9:03 pm

[dabs at eyes with handkerchief, hides onion, back off stage in search of gin bottle…. ]

hee hee hee. That reminds me, if I ever win the death pool, may I substitute a copy of Private Eye for the Dick?

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 21, 2010, 9:21 pm

{hee hee hee. That reminds me, if I ever win the death pool, may I substitute a copy of Private Eye for the Dick?}

What a horrible thing to say to a guy….. 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 21, 2010, 9:46 pm

Sure, Lipstick. Saves me a bundle on postage. Sadly, Private Eye is not a tenth what it used to be. The theme for the last few years was, “Gosh, that George Bush sure is stupid, isn’t he?”

Comment from MarkT
Time: July 21, 2010, 9:51 pm

Accchh! Just reading these lines makes me scratch! ‘Tis fascinating to see everyone’s suggestions. I guess all I can offer is a great walloping dish of empathy, UB. The mental pic I’ve conjured of a thatched cottage, mounds of diatomaceous earth, a rocking chair, a quart of gin, and a bottle of nail varnish and bare ankles grieves me sorely. I hope you have some relief soon!

Comment from Randy Rager
Time: July 21, 2010, 10:25 pm

Alas, there is no curing someone beset with fleas. All you can do is play him some soothing tunes on The Ukelele of The Great Old Ones, and hope for the best.


In case you thought I was making that up…

Comment from Lipstick
Time: July 21, 2010, 11:14 pm

Sadly, Private Eye is not a tenth what it used to be. The theme for the last few years was, “Gosh, that George Bush sure is stupid, isn’t he?”

Oh, that’s just sad. Gosh I used to enjoy that magazine so much. Well, I have faith that the tide will turn.

Here’s an amusing article about “in jokes” over the years in Private Eye.


And Scuba, I’ve already got all the dick than I can handle at home, no need to import. 😉

Comment from B.C.
Time: July 22, 2010, 12:52 am

Two words: Boric acid. Learn to love ’em.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: July 22, 2010, 1:08 am

Vit. B complex, makes you stink but might make the fleas go bite someones else….

Comment from GreenBroke
Time: July 22, 2010, 4:40 pm

Mix dry meat tenderizer with a little water to form a paste. Dab a bit of this paste on each bite and work it in. Then a little more to completely cover bite. This works (at least for me) amazingly well.

Comment from Steve In Tulsa
Time: July 22, 2010, 5:24 pm

Eat a lot more garlic.

Comment from Mantesdoca
Time: July 22, 2010, 6:32 pm

Clifford, your aunt is hilarious. Thanks for sharing. My family’s from deep in bayou country, Abbeville and surroundings. Uncle George told me that anything north of Baton Rouge is Arkansas. That might explain the chigger versus red bug terminology. What do you call crawfish besides delicious?

Comment from Jason M
Time: September 15, 2010, 9:58 am

A heaping tablespoon-and-a-half of garlic powder. Seriously. Tulsa Steve up there is right, actually. Waay back in my army days I was taught that by an “old-timer” (who was probably all of 25 :/, but I digress). Garlic will seep out of your pores time-release, and therefor provide you full-body coverage about 4-6 days for that amount better than you could apply yourself. Blood-sucking critters don’t want to eat yours. Works great. Simple. Cheap. Of course, you will smell a bit, so for social reasons you may want to adjust powder intake down a bit.(or maybe just affect a French accent and try to pull it off? 🙂 J/K, Jaques! Relax.)

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