Fleas gnaw on Southwest Portland residents' nerves

PORTLAND, Ore. - What a pest.

A flea infestation is causing headaches - and itchiness - for residents of a Southwest Portland apartment complex.

So far, spraying hasn't helped much and the residents and manager of View Point Terrace Apartments are willing to try anything at this point to end the infestation.

The onslaught of those pesky, little critters has resident Holly Pedersen having to brush of the floor mats of her car after she sprints out to the parking lot. She's trying to keep the fleas outside.

"It's kinda disgusting that they follow you from your apartment, in the parking lot and then into your car," she said.

Thursday wasn't as bad as usual as she spoke with a KATU News crew. Pedersen only had three on her pants, but they had left their marks.

"They don't like me near as much as they like my boyfriend," she said.

For her boyfriend, Jim Bria, it's been a different story. He can count about 20 bites on each leg. He said he dealt with the bugs last year and has a theory where they're coming from.

"I think it's the leaves. There's been raccoons all over the place. Stray cats and raccoons," he said.

Leaves littered the parking lot of the apartment complex. As for the raccoons, the on-site manager said they're trying to trap them.

Another culprit could be the heat, experts say. Higher temperatures will trigger eggs to hatch. A flea's life cycle can run several days to several weeks, which makes the battle against them constant.

Bria said they're proving to be a formidable opponent.

"Nothing really seems to keep 'em away," he said. "It's really tough to get 'em off you or even kill 'em. Yeah, they're nasty little buggers."

Hopefully there will be good news on the horizon. A pest control company is coming back for more treatments there.

Another simple way to keep fleas at bay is to spray yourself with a repellent that contains DEET.

Viewer Tips

After seeing KATU's story, viewers starting emailing the newsroom tips on how they've successfully gotten rid of a flea problem.

Barbara Harrison said her daughter sprinkled borax on the carpets in her Newport apartment for two weeks, waited six hours after each application before vacuuming. She said the borax breaks down the fleas' bodies and dehydrates them, including their larvae.

Harrison suggests checking out The Bug Squad website for more information and precautions, especially for pregnant women, pets, and children.

Also, Myrna Meacham said she used a spray bottle filled with water and one third cup of Dawn dishwashing soap to get rid of her flea problem.