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Fleas and Ticks

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Ticks Can Be Deadly

Infection caused from Ticks cause only minor or no symptoms in some people but become dire in others. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, for one, almost always results in hospitalization. And among people who develop symptoms of babesiosis, 5 percent to 10 percent will die. The death rate reaches 20 percent in those whose immune system is compromised

What is Babesiosis?  Babesiosis is a rare, severe and sometimes fatal tick-borne disease caused by various types of Babesia, a microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells.

Ticks are relatives of spiders, scorpions, and mites. As such, their survival is dependent on a host (i.e., they're parasites). Specifically, ticks feed on an animal's blood or body fluids. The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis in the East & Midwest, and Ixodes pacificus in the West) goes through many stages during its lifecycle, and feeds on different species at each point.

Ticks begin as eggs (stage 1) that hatch into 6-legged larvae (stage 2).
Larvae live and feed on animals (mice, deer, squirrels, livestock, and any humans who enter the tick habitat) for about a week before detaching then molting (shedding) anywhere from 1 week to 8 months later.

The larvae then become 8-legged nymphs (stage 3). Nymphs feed on animals, engorge for 3 to 11 days, detach, and molt about a month later (depending on the species and environmental conditions).

Once the nymph molts, it becomes an adult tick (male or female). Ticks climb up grass and plants and hold their legs up "sensing" and "looking" for their prey. Ticks are attracted to their hosts by detecting carbon dioxide and heat through special organs located on the first pair of the tick's legs (Haller's organs). When a warm-blooded animal walks past, the tick can crawl onto them and begins feeding. Ticks insert their mouths, attach to their prey, and engorge themselves with a blood meal (stage 4). During feeding, tick saliva can get into the host's body and blood stream. Any tick infected with Borrelia burgdorferi can then inadvertently spread this  bacteria to the host.

Male and female ticks usually mate while attached to the host. A few weeks later, the engorged female detaches from the host and lays her eggs (1000 - 8000 eggs) on a leaf. A tick usually lives a year before dying.
(L to R) larva, nymph, adult male, adult female, engorged female

Flea Control – over 2000 different species of fleas

Weather has an effect on fleas , the flea season as recommended by the Flea Index may vary from year to year. It should also be noted that fleas (in their various stages) can survive indoors during the cold weather months; therefore a monthly or bi-monthly flea control treatment is recommended. Consult your pest control operator about flea prevalence in your area, how long it lasts and the recommended time to start your cat or dog on flea control.

Once you have decided you need to contact a professional to take care of a flea problem, here are some tips to help prepare ahead of time.

3 Step Process To Controlling Fleas
Before Treatment:
  1. Vacuum carpets, floors, rugs, drapes, upholstered furniture, mattresses and cushions. Use a vacuum with a disposable bag and dispose of it by incineration or sealing in a plastic bag.
  2. Wash or dispose of all pet bedding.
  3. Clean or vacuum wood and tile floors with special attention to grooves, cracks and baseboards.
  4. Remove any and all debris from porches, steps and decks and underdecks.
  5. Cut the lawn and remove debris and clutter prior to yard treatment.
  6. All unwrapped food should be covered or placed in cabinets or the refrigerator. Food preparation surfaces and utensils should be covered. Pick up pet bowls from inside as well as outside of the home.
  7. Be sure to remove all toys, decorative items, pillows and other items off the floor, including under the bed and closets, so that all areas of the floor can be treated.
  8. Cover fish tanks and remove birds and hamsters when the technician arrives.
  9. Make arrangements for everyone including pets to remain out of home and off the yard for approximately 4 hours after treatment to allow for area to completely dry.
After Treatment

Once your home and yard has been professionally treated, there are important things you need to do.

  1. All occupants and animals should stay off treated surfaces until they are dry.
  2. Vacuum carpets every day for 10 days and remove the vacuums bag outdoors and dispose of properly. Don't be alarmed if you see adult fleas when you are vacuuming. These fleas were in the pupa and egg stages, which aren't killed by the insecticide application. However, there is enough residual control to last up to 4 weeks. That's enough time to kill adults as they emerge and give good control in most situations.
  3. Wash food preparation surfaces and utensils that might have come in contact with the insecticide.
  4. Do not allow flea-infested pets in your home. If this happens, the house may get reinfested and retreatment will be necessary.
  5. Check all screening of foundation vents and other access areas to keep mice, rats and squirrels and other fleas carrying wild animals out.