Fleas & Ticks

FLEAS

Adult fleas are no larger than 1/8 inch long and are reddish-brown to black.  The most common type of flea found on cats and dogs are the cat flea.  Flea populations are evenly distributed, with about 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, and 5% adults.  The female can lay anywhere from 20-50 eggs per day which will take about 2-5 days to hatch.  The eggs are not glued down, so they will usually fall off of the host.  It is essential in our pest control program that vacuuming, washing bed linens and a pet medication be given to their pets by our customers.  Vibrations (including sound), heat and carbon dioxide are all triggers that will tell a flea when a host is near.  A flea can typically live for up to one year.

Some people and pets suffer from fleabite allergic dermatitis, characterized by intense itching, hair loss, reddening of the skin, and secondary infection. Just one bite can initiate an allergic reaction, and itching can persist up to 5 days after the bite.  Flea bites consist of a small, central, red spot surrounded by a red halo, usually without excessive swelling.

TICKS

Ticks are small arachnids. Ticks require blood meals to complete their complex life cycles.  Many species of ticks can survive a year or more without a blood meal.  There are two basic ticks found in this area.  The black-legged or deer tick adults are tiny, typically the size of a sesame seed.  Males are black; females have a brick-red abdomen and a black shield near the head.  The deer tick is dependent on the white-tailed deer for reproduction.  The adult female tick needs a large three-day blood meal from the deer before she can reproduce and lay her 2000 or more eggs.  Adults are found primarily from September through November, and again in March and April.

The other tick is called the American Dog tick otherwise known as the kennel tick.  The Dog tick is reddish-brown with white or yellow markings.  The male tick is 1/8 inch long and the female is ½ inch.  This tick is a three host tick that is an important pest of dogs in the U.S., especially those housed in kennels. It feeds on dogs during all three life stages, but drops off in about 4 days and reattaches during each stage.

Ticks transmits a bacteria which causes Lyme disease, a serious human disease that exhibits symptoms common to many other diseases. It is initially flu-like but if not treated can develop into rheumatoid arthritis-type conditions. Lyme disease is not usually fatal but can be debilitating and difficult to treat if not detected early.  A tick needs to be attached for 24 hours or more for this to be a concern.

To remove feeding ticks, use tweezers only; do not use nail polish, Vaseline, matches or other methods that may traumatize the tick and cause it to regurgitate its gut contents. Grasp the tick with tweezers around its head, close to the skin and pull it up slowly and firmly. Disinfect the bite afterwards with antiseptic.

For preventative measures keep woodpiles as far away from the house as practical, keep grass mowed to a short length and avoid brushing up against trees and brush.  This is due to the ticks typically climbing up and waiting for hosts to come by.  

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