Tens of billions of dollars are spent by the United States alone annually on flea treatment. How much ever cleaning you do to your surroundings, the problem of fleas seems to not go away for most of us.
A simple internet search will reveal a plethora of options for flea treatment. Lime treatment comes up as one of your flea treatment options almost everywhere.
Perhaps it is considered as a cheap and natural alternative with doubtful results? Apart from the environment-friendly reasons, does lime kill fleas?
Above all, if the right variant and the right quantity of lime is not used and applied in a random fashion, it may lead to more problems and leave the soil permanently damaged than just getting rid of fleas.
What Does Lime Do To Your Garden?
Soil that is acidic acts as a good breeding ground for bacteria and fleas. Lime, which is made by powdering limestone is a rich source of calcium and magnesium. Another useful purpose of lime is to reduce the acidity of the soil, in addition to supplying calcium and magnesium.
Lime is very caustic and kills fleas as it dehydrates their body. As the acidic nature of soil reduces with the addition of lime, it becomes less of a fertile breeding place for fleas thereby reducing their growth and reproduction.
Different Variants Of Lime
It is important for you to know the different types of lime as the toxicity and the purpose associated with each is varied.
Agricultural Lime or Aglime – This variant is best suited for agricultural and gardening purposes. Gardners and farmers use this as a mild pesticide as well as a critical ingredient for keeping the soil PH neutral.
Hydrated or slacked Lime – It is caustic to put for lawns and gardens as it reacts with moisture. These are not recommended heavily for lawns and gardens.
Powder Lime – This is made from crushing limestone rock and is in powdered form. This acts fast on the soil but is extremely dusty.
Apart from this, there are other variants like Liquid Lime, Quick Lime, etc. These are not relevant for gardening and hence not discussed in detail here. It can have a difficult and harmful effect on humans and land if the wrong lime variant is used.
Selection Of The Lime Variant
Agricultural lime is considered as an effective treatment for fleas. It is limestone crushed to fine powder. Upon spraying, it dehydrates the fleas and their larvae thereby preventing the growth of the population of fleas. It is more gentle on animals than hydrated lime which is more caustic with moisture.
Other variants mentioned in the previous section need to be avoided for gardening and farming as they have more caustic properties and are meant to be used for industrial applications.
Once the variant is decided, you can move on to the next activity of performing the lime treatment. Adequate precautions need to be taken to ensure that the harmful effects are minimized.
Application Of Lime And The Precautions To Be Taken
As lime is caustic in nature, lime treatment in the dormant season is the best. Some researchers have recommended fall as the best season suitable for your lime treatment followed by winter and spring as the second and third options respectively.
As most of the vegetation thrives in summer, it is advised that lime treatment is avoided as much as possible during summer months.
You need to get a soil test done and this is a critical factor in determining the treatment. A PH value that is less than 7 indicates the soil’s acidic nature and lime treatment can restore the nutrient balance of the soil to make it congenial for cultivation.
If the PH value is significantly low, say 2 or 3, the amount of lime that needs to be applied must be proportionately higher than for a soil with PH of 6.
The land area where lime treatment is required to be applied needs to be cleared of any leaves, twigs, debris etc.
Apply lime when the weather is dry and when there is not much wind to ensure an even spread across the land area. Protective clothing and gears like goggles, shoes made of non-porous material, full sleeved shirts and pants should be worn during the lime treatment as due to its corrosive nature, and humans should have minimal contact with it.
With periodic soil testing and adjusting the application of lime on a regular basis, it can have a long-lasting effect that results in a garden/lawn free of fleas.
If the soil testing results show alkaline nature at any time, corrective actions to reduce the PH value needs to be undertaken by treatments with chemicals like Sulphur. Special care has to be taken at all times to ensure that the soil is not permanently damaged.
While these are opinions gathered from diverse expert sources, it is important to seek local guidance as well. Contact your local pest management expert to seek advice specific to your locality.
It appears that the right variant applied in tune with the soil test results can help in eliminating fleas from your garden to a certain extent with the additional benefit of balancing the nutrients in the soil.
There are other ways of pest management that may not be ruled out entirely which may act better than lime. Another important thing is to note that over exposure of lime can leave the soil infertile. However, lime treatment of soil has stood the test of time and continues to do so for the foreseeable future.
On a detailed review, it appears that the killing of fleas due to lime treatment is a secondary benefit – the primary benefit is getting the soil ready for optimum plant growth. Use it optimally and responsibly.