Instructables
Picture of Catch 50 Fleas In One Night
With this home built flea catcher I was able to catch 50 fleas in one night. Yes I certainly did count them!

I have seen several other prototypes on the internet, but I wanted to share my experience with my results.

The part list.
Dish Soap
Ground Black Pepper
LED Night Light
Container Lid
Toaster Over Tray

There are several flea traps on the market. Here is one such example. However they contain a sticky pad that you will need to eventually replace. I am adding this language expressly for the "I Could Make That" Contest. Please vote and share with a friend =)
 
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Step 1:

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This part of the experiment verifies that soapy water will work for the trap, but regular water will not. The soap reduces the water surface tension. Basically this trap wants to drown the flea, not let it glide on the surface of the water. Why did I use pepper? It is similar in size and weight of a flea. If the solution is correct and it pulls a small grain of pepper, then it will definitely pull down a flea into the trap.

Step 2:

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Now that we know how to verify the solution. We take our lid, fill it with water, and squeeze generous amounts of soap into it. The ratio is unclear at this time, but with the pepper it doesn't matter. Simply stir the water a bit and keep adding soap until the when you add a pinch of pepper, it sink right to the bottom of the lid. The tray is here so that my cat doesn't drink the soapy water. I doubt it would happen because soapy water doesn't taste good, but it is here as a precaution.

My best guess on the water to soap ratio: 2 cups water to 4 TBSP soap.

Step 3:

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Okay here you will see the trap all setup and in place. The LED night light is plugged in right above it. The fleas will jump towards the light, and bam they will sink into the soapy water.
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muddog157 months ago
I just use soap and water and squeeze a lot of soap into the water. It has worked perfect so far!
ecoben (author)  muddog1512 days ago

great to hear it.

jmcgarey11 months ago
A glass pie pan works great too. I used a clamp-lamp with a 60 watt bulb. The warmth attracts them towards the lamp and when they jump towards it, they fall into the soap with the same results.
ecoben (author)  jmcgarey10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. There are interesting facts roaming the internet as to whether it is the light or the warmth. But since LED light is more eco friendly and uses less power I decided to not use a 60 watt classic incandescent bulb.
jmcgarey ecoben10 months ago
I won't argue with success! All I know is, they managed to find my leg and my dogs in the dark. :-( What an awful few weeks that was! This solution definitely worked better than the expensive commercial products!
khalaria11 months ago
We have had problems with fleas on many occasions, but no more. I bought a steam cleaner and steamed every floor in the house twice a day for 2 weeks, then about once a month. We have had no sign of fleas now for over 2 years
ecoben (author)  khalaria10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. If you have a cat that goes inside and outside, then having a way to trap new fleas that enter the home is where a trap comes in handy. I am curious if you currently have a pet.
khalaria ecoben10 months ago
Yes ecoben, I still have cats and my daughters dog on occasion. I steam the carpets and hard floors about once a week now but have seen no sign of fleas since the second week after I began steaming. Almost everyone in our street has cats or dogs so the potential for fleas is still there. I liked the idea of steam as it uses no chemicals and is quick and easy to do. (As a bonus the steamer can clean tiles and the oven).
slo5oh11 months ago
You sir are a GENIUS.
This method uses their own instinct against them. Keep in mind that this will not get the unhatched eggs.
ecoben (author)  slo5oh10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I am aware that it will only get the mature fleas, but those are the ones that bite. =)
thebeatonpath11 months ago
Panicked when my son was bitten in the night even though we don't have pets and had read about the water/dish soap/light flea trap. It only takes a few drops of dish soap. I used a desk light, so it is interesting that a night light worked. I didn't use a toaster tray, but that is a nice touch to keep others out of the dish. In the end, I only caught one biting midge, so IMO it was a success! Glad you posted this for others to see.
ecoben (author)  thebeatonpath10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I am glad that you had success with my instructables. =)
lygirajo11 months ago
You beast! You should have designed a have-a-heart flea trap. hahahaha
Can you imagine building the teeny, tiny little trigger with bait and door to slam shut? :)
ecoben (author)  lygirajo10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. Your comment made me smile. I see you read my disclaimer that reminds people that these fleas will indeed drown with this flea trap. I am curious if a mini trap that would set them free outside later somewhere in the country on a nice warm sunny day.
mquiring111 months ago
GENIUS idea - Thanks for the Help, my dog ​​makes me mad otherwise
ecoben (author)  mquiring110 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I will gladly take your compliment.
philosopheria11 months ago
I'm glad you posted this! This method is really effective to get rid of a flea problem when it's concentrated in a particular area of one's house. (We've used it in conjunction with combing our pets and, when necessary, using the flea poisons on them.)
ecoben (author)  philosopheria10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed reading and trying my instructable. I wanted to make something that would end up with people using less chemicals on their pets and in our environment.
We always used diatomaceous earth on the pets instead of poison, as it's food safe and non toxic, but kills fleas pretty good.
We'd just take the cat outside, powder it up and let it run off for the fleas to jump off.
lygirajo adillbeck11 months ago
Use caution with DE. There are many articles written on precautions of breathing because though tiny, it has sharp edges that can cause damage to lung tissue when inhaled.
There are 2 types of DE. One should be sure they get the food grade DE. There is also a version for chlorinated pools, this version is caustic and should never be used for flea infestations.
jonipinkney11 months ago
I understand you feeling bad about the fleas drowning I rarely kill things except when necessary for food or self-defense. Actually I don't kill my own food except plants, but since I'm not a vegetarian, (due to health concerns I need a little food of animal origin) animals are indeed killed in my name. But anyhow ...

IMO, killing vermin such as fleas, fireants, etc, definitely counts as self defense. So when I kill them, i pray for them. I use prayers from the Buddhist traditions, since the Christian traditions do not generally believe that animals have souls that need to be prayed for. One of my favorites is "namu amida butsu." (I don't know if this is the proper spelling, I'm spelling it just the way it sounds.) This sends the spirit of whatever I've killed to the Pure Land, where conditions are optimal for enlightenment. A Buddhist friend taught me this prayer, and assured me that anyone may say it, not just Buddhists. Also she told me that I may say it for anything that's dying or recently dead, whether human, animal, mineral, or vegetable. I've been sending lots of fire ants to the Pure Land lately. Maybe they'll attain enlightenment before I do. Another prayer, that I've picked up from watching movies like kung fu kid, is "may you be reincarnated in a better form." I say this for the ants and other vermin that I kill in self defense.

If anyone feels that I'm misusing or misappropriating any of these prayers I apologize; I intend no offense or disrespect. But I'm very tender hearted and this is the only way I can bring myself to eat food or kill vermin, and I thought I'd pass it along since the writer of this instructable mentions that they also feel bad about killing vermin.
ecoben (author)  jonipinkney10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I very much do appreciate you posting this prayer to send the fleas to the Pure Land for Enlightenment.
zawy jonipinkney11 months ago
Actually, if you eat animal products, you are supporting that animals life cycle inside our economoic machine that is destined to rlace all animals, even humans, with mahines that are more efficient than muscles ( which caused the great depression) and brains ( which is causing the current impending depression )
jonipinkney zawy11 months ago
Hmmm,,, interesting point here. If machines are evolving to take our place in the system, maybe we're evolving to another place. Machines may be more efficient than brains at storing and processing data, but we're still a lot better than computers at recognizing and generating meta-patterns.

For example, I work in computer assisted instruction, and one problem that's often encountered is that the computer cannot recognize student input that's "almost" correct. It simply tells the learner that they're wrong, which is very demoralizing. Any teacher knows that when the learner does something that's approaching the desired behavior, this is encouraged, this is called "shaping." But the computer simply tells the learner that they're wrong, because maybe a character is out of place or the wrong case. Then I have to come along and help the learner troubleshoot the situation, also I must restore his or her morale.

As a human I can do this because I recognize the meta-patterns that lead to learning and mastery. I can know when a learner has 'a good idea' or "is getting there"; the computer can't. This is an example from my field of how the human ability to recognize and create meta-patterns far excels that of computers, examples exist in many other fields as well.
zawy jonipinkney11 months ago
It's true that people are far better seekers of optimum solutions to problems that are stated in a vague manner. But this is domain gets smaller and smaller as time goes on. For example, the cheapest computer in my house can do vision pattern recognition 10 times faster, 5 times longer (24 hr), 1000 times cheaper ($20 a year in electricity verses my $20k needs), and 50% better than me, judging by how hard it's getting for me to correctly pass challenge-response images on web sites, and vision was supposed to be where computers would never equal people. More and more jobs are being replaced by computers so that the distribution of economic resources continues to be subject to politics, and the political system that devalues humans the most in a free trade system will evolve to be the winner. Right now, only 5% of people need to work continue moving matter with energy at our current levels. The other 95% are using these resources in playing games with each other. We use 10 times more energy per person and 1,000 times more technology than 100 years ago. It's amazing people are still paying teacher salaries when you can get full 4-year engineering college courses online for free from the best teachers in the world. I retired at age 37 10 years ago by replacing foot doctors. Politics is now deciding where all our resources go. 10 years worth of free gasoline for all Americans went instead to pay the Military and defense contractors in Iraq and now the medical system here at home trying to put destroyed lives back together and welfare for 5,000 fatherless families. 10 years worth of tax revenue was used to buy toxic assets off bank balance sheets. Those who control politics will continue to destroy the world's standard of living. 20th century was possibly the best the average human will ever see thanks to the influx of nearly-free energy. Dog-eat-dog mindless evolution is now back in force,and about to hit the U.S. full force as a currency crisis.
iFirefly11 months ago
I feel sorry for your cat. I am allergic to them and learned to adapt any flea-abatement approach to the fleas' reproductive cycle; after a few weeks, all of them are long dead - including the eggs.

To those who think the pepper is part of the solution, I am pretty sure that the pepper was only used in this case to test the solution for it's ability to drown the fleas - not to pepper-spray them.

I once moved into an apartment, unaware that was it was wholly infested, waking up the first (and last) night there with all kinds of swollen bites around my ankles. My pair of poor indoor cats, who had never even seen a flea before) were even more miserable than my GF and I. I decided from that point forward to try out potential rental properties by first planting flea 'traps' with night lights over a cup of water with rubbing alcohol and a drop of dish soap added as a surfactant - the alcohol makes the soap more effective. I used a piece of white card stock bent like a half-funnel with open front to act as a catch-all backstop/sliding board so the over-energetic fleas who jumped too hard towards the light would hit the backstop and bounce/fall down into the cup 'o death.
ecoben (author)  iFirefly10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I do state in my instructables steps that the pepper is to test the water tension. If the pepper sinks in the solution, so will a flea.
AnTennA1311 months ago
Rats carry fleas, fleas carry bubonic plague which killed 1/3 of Europe. Cats kill rats. Dogs can carry fleas - where's his (illogical) rant against dogs?  Anyone who rants against pets is deranged and probably hangs out on conspiracy pages. Fleas are one of the most dangerous parasites that exist to the human race. ANY NON-TOXIC MEANS TO ERADICATE FLEAS IS GOOD!
ecoben (author)  AnTennA1310 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I laughed when I read your riddle logic.
olmon11 months ago
A simpler remedy is to sprinkle borax all around & vacuum it and the fleas up after a few hours. Repeat as necessary. Baby powder works also. You can also use the baby powder on your pets to get rid of fleas.
ecoben (author)  olmon10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. But please do some internet reading about the dangers of borax for cats. It at first seems like a simple solution, but contains some cat toxins. It might be trace elements, but I didn't want to take the chance.
dsmith8411 months ago
You don't need a generous amount of soap, just enough to break the surface tension. This trick works on all sorts of bugs. Place a drop of soap in a cup of wine or apple juice to get rid of fruit flies.
ecoben (author)  dsmith8410 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I think it depends on the brand of soap used. But the pepper part of my instructables, shows exactly how much soap you will need to break the water tension for your specific needs.
Earendilgrey11 months ago
For those not wanting to use soap in fear of pets getting in it I have had pretty good experience in the past with double sided carpet tape or any heavy duty double sided tape in place of the soapy water. It will even catch huge wolf spiders in it. Yeah that scared the crap of of me in the morning.
ecoben (author)  Earendilgrey10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. Anything sticky would work, but I wanted an eco friendly method. I found that the soapy water trick can be rinsed down the drain and don't need to buy special tape.
PhilKE3FL11 months ago
Cats don't taste, they smell things. So, if it doesn't smell right they won't drink or eat it. Still, soap is not natural so I think the use of the "tray" is still a good idea.
ecoben (author)  PhilKE3FL10 months ago
Thanks for the comment. I don't think my cat would want to drink more than one lick of soapy water, but I thought this eliminates even that chance.
Cats don't have sweet taste receptors, but they have all of the other taste receptors that mammals have.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-cats-cannot-taste-sweets
Thanks! I thought Id read that they had almost no taste at all, didn't make much sense but..., strange what one "remembers" sometimes.
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