Q. Sometime ago a lady wrote to you about getting rid of fleas from pets by sprinkling salt or some other substance on the rugs. We vacuum the rugs very often and it helps some, but I would appreciate hearing from you on more effective ways we could get rid of this awful pest. -- M. G.
A. Your letter and those of other readers who have recently written to us regarding the control of pests, including fleas and roaches, prompts us to repeat a number of controls that we have run before, many of which were supplied by other readers:
In response to one reader's question, another reader responded, "For those of us who refuse to use chemicals, the use of nature's own sources is a must. We've found that eucalyptus leaves accomplish the disappearance of fleas in a room, carpet or whatever."Cut lots of the smaller shoots or leaves and place them heavily in the room or area infected. They might also be cut up and placed in sections of the room.
"Eucalyptus has a strong fragrance which repels fleas and is often used in combination with sage and other plants with a highly pungent odor for spraying insects in the garden -- all without harm to the vegetables. A new thought: Use of eucalyptus oil might be even better. Hopefully, this will help some of your other readers. -- E. B."
Another reader wrote, "I read the question in a recent column asking about flea control. I have a friend who is a biologist who gave me some advice about two years ago. Buy oil of wintergreen at a drugstore -- the same kind that you use in vaporizers for colds -- and add about one teaspoon to a quart of hot water in a mist sprayer. Then mist carpets, upholstered furniture, pillows and anything where flea eggs can hatch. The mist will not kill fleas, but it will kill eggs. Spray about three times a year.
"The odor goes away in a few days and you are safe for months without danger of pesticides. Since oil of wintergreen is used on babies, I do not believe it can hurt cats or dogs.
"Everyone I know that has tried the wintergreen misting is delighted with the results. Please pass the word. I told a friend who lives in an apartment house which allows pets about the wintergreen solution. The next time I visited her, the whole building smelled of wintergreen. -- T. S."
One reader wrote, "I had heard from my friend, while in North Carolina, how she got rid of fleas, so I wrote her immediately and asked for the information. Today, I received a note from her giving the name of a shrub you can use to get rid of fleas. The shrub is myrtle evergreen, a native of the Mediterranean area that grows profusely on the Atlantic Coast in North Carolina. Some have white berries, and there is an aromatic odor in the whole shrub.
"To get rid of fleas, you store branches in different areas of the house -- on the floor, under and behind furniture. You leave the shrubs in the house for several weeks and then throw them away -- no fleas left in the house. -- VDM."
Another reader told us, "A grandson visited me last year and the flea problem was bad. He was miserable with flea bites. I asked my dermatologist if he had an answer for this problem. He told me to have the boy take vitamin B-1. No more flea bites.
"The dermatologist explained that fleas do not like the smell on a person who has taken vitamin B-1. But how can you ever tell what kind of smells a flea dislikes? -- E. B."
Regarding a related problem, a reader wrote, "Snailicide is nothing short of a miracle. We have been plagued with roaches for a number of years and have tried everything ever suggested, including the borax treatment.
"A recent application of Snailicide brought forth a dustpan full the next morning, 15 or so yesterday. We have extended its usage to a greater area of the yard today. We would never have used it for roaches, thinking by its name that it controlled snails alone. -- SLN."
To our readers: Thank you one and all for contributing time and effort in the battle against household pests.