Flea & Ticks

 

Fleas

Fleas are parasites. They are annoying pests that bite people and pets.  They feed directly on humans and warm blooded animals. Whenever you see adult fleas crawling on your pet, it is only a symptom of a much larger problem.  For every adult flea you see on your dog or cat, there are 10 eggs, 7 larvae, and 2 cocoons. 

There are approximately 2,500 species of fleas in the world; 325 which are here in the U.S.  Even on dogs the most common flea is the Ctenocephalides felis also known as the cat flea.  They are also hosts of the double pore dog tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum.   This is a parasite that can infect children that ingest a cat flea that is host to an immature stage of the tapeworm.  The tapeworm begins to develop in the child’s intestine.  It is not a serious disease but a physician should be consulted.

A skin reaction to a flea bite appears as a slightly raised and red itchy spot. Sometimes these sores bleed. 

Fleas usually require warm and humid conditions to develop.  Due to the flea cycle and weather conditions, many people don't realize they have a flea problem until they return home from vacation or after a move to a new premises and are confronted by hungry fleas.  Fleas are attracted to body heat, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide. 

Flea control is usually needed at this point to avoid being bitten and prevent infestations.

A flea can jump 7 to 8 inches vertically and 14 to 16 inches horizontally. Current studies indicate that adult fleas account for only 50%, larvae account for about 35%, and the remaining 10% are the pupa cocoons. 

Ticks

Tick Bites Disease Symptoms

Lyme disease is caused by infection with a bacterium called a spirochete(Borrelia burgdorferi) and is transmitted to humans by infected ticks.

Patients with early stage Lyme disease symptoms have a characteristic rash accompanied by nonspecific symptoms (for example, fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, myalgia, and arthralgia). Lyme disease can usually be treated successfully with standard antibiotics.

Ticks are small arachnids. Ticks are scientifically classified as Arachnida (a classification that includes spiders). The fossil record suggests ticks have been around at least 90 million years. There are over 800 species of ticks throughout the world, but only two families of ticks, Ixodidae (hard ticks) and Argasidae (soft ticks), are known to transmit diseases or illness to humans. Hard ticks have a scutum, or hard plate, on their back while soft ticks do not.

Ticks have a complex life cycle that includes eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adult male and female ticks. The larvae, nymphs, and adults all need blood meals to complete their complex life cycles. Usually, the female adult (hard tick) is the one causing the most bites as males usually die after mating.

Ticks do not jump or fly. They simply reach out with their legs and grab or crawl onto a host. Although some larvae have preferred hosts, most ticks in the nymph or adult phase will attach a get a blood meal from several different kinds of animals, including humans. Except for a few species of larval ticks, the immature phases (larvae, nymphs) usually are even less selective about where they get a blood meal and are known to bite snakes, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Although ticks will die eventually if they do not get a blood meal, many species can survive a year or more without a blood meal. The hard ticks tend to attach and feed for hours to days. Disease transmission usually occurs near the end of a meal, as the tick becomes full of blood. It may take hours before a hard tick transmits pathogens. Soft ticks usually feed for less than one hour. Disease transmission can occur in less than a minute with soft ticks. The bite of some of these soft ticks produces intensely painful reactions.