|Flea Fighting Follies|
Issue #14 (October 1982)
Several of us were having your typical Mensa dinner conversation recently, and one of the topics broached had to do with fleas. Now, anyone who lives in climates like the San Francisco Bay Area is intimately aware of the problem of fleas at this [quoteright]time of year, whether or not one owns a pet. I happen to have a dog around, which is pretty much a house dog. I also am extremely attractive to fleas. The dog sleeps on, in, under, and generally around our bed, and, more often than I'd like to admit, I see the little critters jumping under the covers.
Oh, joy! Another night of light sleeping waiting for those bastards to nibble at my ankles - strange, it's only the ankles they're after! I have read the usual warnings in the newspapers about the hazards of preventing fleas by such measures as wearing flea collars around the legs, and I naturally agree with these admonitions. Who wants to develop a rash from the active ingredients in a flea collar? After all, I may have rather hirsute legs, but certainly not like a dog's neck.
At any rate, at this particular dinner, we surmised that fighting fleas was sort of like cloud seeding experiments - you can't really tell if it's working. At best, we came up with a few ideas, both wild and wildly sane! The first was to wage psychological warfare. To do this, one must pick a flea off the dog, tell other fleas, "This one's an example of what's going to happen to the rest of you if you don't skedaddle," then dunk him in a can of trichloroethelene.
Incidentally, we arrived at "trich" after several side discussions (this ALWAYS happens in Mensal) about the worthiness of other potions: Some, like alcohol, dry too fast; while others (acetic acid) are simply too smelly.
Speaking of odors, our second method of ridding the house and dog of fleas was the "natural" method. Various conservation groups will like this one! It is a well-known fact that oil of eucalyptus is a natural flea inhibitor. We have all heard stories about people who make flea collars out of eucalyptus corns. I can see it now: Thousands of flea-sensitive folks stripping the local eucalyptus population of its means of reproduction. On second thought, maybe various conservation groups WON'T like this idea and will display bumperstickers that read "SAVE THE EUCALYPTI."
Then, there's always the "brute force" way. You simply go to your vet and buy some industrial grade flea spray and an insect bomb or two. Douse the mutt with the spray every other day for a week, then set off the bombs one weekend. Do this on a Friday morn when you plan to be away for several days. If this doesn't succeed, call in the Orkin Army!
Finally, the most effective means of ridding your domicile of fleas is to just get rid of the dog. Now this may seem heartless, but you have to take your choice here: dog and fleas, or no dog and no fleas. In digital talk, that's like an AND gate.
Oh, yes. I almost forgot to make a pitch for a guaranteed flea killer. Go down to your local lumberyard, buy two 1" x 1" x 2" blocks. Place flea on one block, and slap the other one down. Voilal Dead flea. Let's hope it was preggy.
Long time Ecphorizer and current Editor of all things Ecphorizer, Tod enjoyed a varied career in telecommunications having cut his teeth at Ma Bell, then getting in on the ground floor at Rolm working on digital PBXs, getting a light workout at Raynet while installing fiber optic transmission systems, and finally working at Cisco Systems prior to retiring.