What are fleas & ticks?
Fleas are ectoparasites that will find a way onto our Texas properties, whether pets are present or not. Adult fleas grow to about an eighth of an inch long and are brownish-black to reddish-black. They have six legs, with the back pair much larger and stronger than the rest and with which they use to jump. Fleas are wingless and have an oval-shaped body that is flattened from side to side.
Both cat and dog fleas live in large numbers in our area, though cat fleas are most widespread in Texas and across the country. Despite their descriptive names, both cat and dog fleas feed on various hosts, including rodents, wild animals, people, and of course, cats and dogs. The physical difference between dog and cat fleas is only noticeable under a microscope.
Ticks are another type of ectoparasite, feeding on their host’s blood from the outside of the body. They also feed on a variety of hosts, including people, our pets, rodents, and most other wild animals.
There are many species of ticks living across the United States, with the deer tick being the most significant concern in our area. Deer ticks have an orange-brown body with its mouthparts, the area behind its head (scutum), and legs being darker or a black color. Ticks are not insects, they are arachnids, and therefore, adults have eight legs. Like fleas, ticks are also wingless.
Are fleas & ticks dangerous?
During the feeding process, ticks can transmit diseases they are carrying to their host. In our area, deer ticks live in vast numbers. Deer ticks carry and spread the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a debilitating disease for both people and animals and causes many symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, and a telltale “bullseye” skin rash.
Fleas are also problematic. Though the spread of disease by fleas isn’t a massive threat in the U.S., they are cable of spreading things like flea-borne typhus. The biggest concern when it comes to fleas is the itchy skin reaction their bites cause. Lots of itching can lead to secondary infections in both people and animals that may require medical attention. Also, animals heavily infested with fleas can develop anemia, becoming very ill and weak.
Why do I have a flea & tick problem?
Ticks move from egg to adult through a four-stage life cycle, including egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The entire process takes two to three years to complete, and most ticks are never able to complete their full life cycle. Each new life-stage requires a blood meal from a new host. As the host they are currently feeding on travels, the feeding ticks travel with them, moving from place to place.
Ticks are mainly outdoor pests and require moist soil to lay their eggs in; they rarely are an issue inside our homes but can become a big issue outside in our yards after being introduced onto our properties.
Adult fleas live almost their whole adult lives on the host they are feeding on. Fleas only live a few months, feeding and breeding on the back of the host. They only leave a host if they accidentally fall off or are groomed off. When female fleas lay their eggs, the eggs roll off the host’s body and land on the ground, where they eventually develop into adults. During the pupal stage, the fleas wrap themselves in a cocoon and complete the life cycle.
As people or animals walk by the cocooned flea, the vibration causes the new adult to emerge and jump on the host. Fleas prefer animal hosts to people, but they will crawl onto us or our clothing if we are around. People and pets often introduce fleas into homes and other structures. Fleas can breed indoors and quickly establish large populations.
Where will I find fleas & ticks?
It is most common to come into contact with fleas and ticks while spending time outside. Fleas like to hide in damp, dark places waiting for a host to come by. Leaf piles, woodpiles, areas under decks, and the soil under shrubs and bushes often house fleas. Fleas often move inside on a person, pet, rodent, or even used furniture. Common indoor hiding spots for fleas include upholstered furniture, rugs, baseboards, bedding, and the cracks in floors.
Ticks waiting for a host like to crawl to the top of tall grass, weeds, and other plants. Areas of dense vegetation, overgrown grass, and wooded areas are some favorite hideouts. Walking along fence lines, at the edges of wooded paths, in fields, and through other grassy areas increases the chance of coming into contact with ticks.
How do I get rid of fleas & ticks?
For help ridding your Austin property of biting fleas and ticks, reach out to Accurate Termite and Pest Control. We offer our customers reliable flea and tick control solutions that you can count on.
Our family-owned and operated pest control company has over 20 years in the pest control industry and offers our customers customized services to meet the unique needs of every property we serve. If you would like more information about protecting your Texas residential or commercial property from fleas and ticks, call Accurate Termite and Pest Control today.
How can I prevent fleas & ticks in the future?
Our Accurate Termite and Pest Control professionals have put together a list of helpful prevention tips to assist Texas homeowners avoid problems with fleas and ticks:
- Take away the fleas and ticks favorite resting spots like tall grass, weeds, and overgrown landscaping.
- When walking on wooded trails, make sure to stay toward the center of the path.
- Since wild animals often introduce fleas and ticks onto a property, avoid attracting wild animals by keeping lids on trash cans, removing bird feeders, and picking up uneaten pet food.
- If you own pets, make sure they are on a year-round flea and tick prevention program.
- Regularly vacuum your home to pick up stray fleas and ticks.
- Wash pet bedding on a high heat setting.
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