TX Organic Research Center



An organic option to control the fleas
July 23, 2004
By Howard Garrett


Question: My vet recommended that I use Frontline as a flea preventive for

my puppy. What is your opinion of this product?

P.B., Plano

Answer: I am very much opposed to "one spot on the back" products. Anything

powerful enough to kill fleas for a prolonged time with one drop is far too

toxic for me to approve. Besides, the nontoxic program that I recommend

works better.

Bathe the puppy with mild herbal shampoos, spray or clean your house with

orange oil products and apply beneficial nematodes to the lawn and garden.

This program will control other pests, too.

Question: I have serious thatch in my St. Augustine grass. I went to a store

that specializes in organic materials, and the employees recommended

cornmeal. I notice that you recommend sugar and dried molasses on your Web


J.O., Dallas

Answer: That's right. Cornmeal is a good tool, but it is used more as a

disease control than a thatch remover. Organic gardeners don't have thatch

because the rich biological activity breaks down the organic material into

organic matter or humus, which is nature's fertilizer.

Question: Are household cornmeal and horticultural cornmeal the same?

J.H., Cedar Hill

Answer: No. Horticultural cornmeal is the outside of the corn kernel

including the germ and bran. Regular cornmeal, used for cooking, is mainly

the starchy endosperm of the kernel.

Question: My yard is infested with whiteflies. How do I get rid of them?

T.M., Dallas

Answer: Whiteflies have been bad this year because of the rainy spring. They

can be controlled by spraying orange oil mixes that also contain molasses

and compost tea. Plant oil products such as those labeled bioganic also work


Question: Is there a difference between food-grade diatomaceous earth and

the kind used to control insects in the garden? I want to use it for my

horses and am not sure what to purchase.

R.B., Terrell

Answer: There are various kinds of diatomaceous earth. But the only kind

acceptable for pest control and animal feed is natural, untreated and

uncontaminated DE.

The Celite brand makes a natural freshwater DE that I use the most. DE that

has been fired and partially melted or contaminated with pyrethrum, as well

as other pesticides or toxins, should not be used.


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