Controlling Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and Treatment
Anyone who has ever battled fleas knows how difficult they are to eradicate. Once a home becomes infested, control can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. A flea-infested dog or cat can introduce hundreds of new flea eggs into the home each day. In South Florida, fleas are a year-round concern.
To effectively control fleas, it is necessary to understand their life cycle and habits. The best way to manage fleas is through prevention. By taking action before fleas are abundant, pet owners can avoid severe infestations later in the season. Preventive flea control has been made possible by new product innovations and insights into flea biology. We now know that adult fleas spend virtually their entire life on the pet, not in the carpet. Eggs are laid on the fur and fall off into carpeting, beneath furniture cushions, and wherever else the pet lays, sleeps or spends time. After hatching, the eggs transform into larvae, pupae, and eventually adults to renew the cycle.
Below is a quick summary of the most important aspects of the flea lifecycle.
· Adult flea—lives on the host animal (dog or cat), where the female lays her eggs. A single flea can produce thousands of eggs.
· Egg—flea eggs are laid on the host animal but fall off into the bedding, carpeting, and elsewhere in the animal’s environment. These pearly white eggs are barely visible and hatch into larvae in 1–10 days.
· Larva—flea larvae feed on organic material in the environment and on the droppings from adult fleas.
· Pupa—after 5–11 days, the larvae produces a fine cocoon in which they complete their development. During this stage of their life cycle, fleas are resistant to insecticides.
Immediately after hatching from its cocoon, the adult flea seeks out a host animal. Within 2 days of her first blood meal, the female flea begins producing eggs and can continue to produce eggs for up to 100 days.
Fleas feeding on your dog or cat can cause several problems. Fleas cause skin disease and contribute to autoimmune disease in cats and dogs. They spread tapeworms and are vectors for infectious maladies ranging from cat scratch fever to bubonic plague.
On-pet Flea Treatment
New product innovations have made it possible to effectively, conveniently, and safely prevent flea populations from building up on pets. These products are more effective than the traditional insecticide collars, dusts, shampoos, and sprays. The spot-on formulations available from veterinarians or via the Internet are much easier to use and are more acceptable to the animal and pet owner.
A few drops of the spot-on formula applied to the animal’s shoulder blades move through the animal’s coat or are absorbed into the animal’s skin, providing whole-body treatment. These materials kill adult fleas within hours of the flea jumping on the animal. Also, these compounds have lower toxicity to mammals than traditionally products.
Indoor Environmental Treatments
Before starting a control program, look through each room to determine areas where larval development occurs. Thoroughly and regularly clean areas where you find adult fleas, flea larvae, and flea eggs. Vacuum floors, rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, and crevices around baseboards and cabinets daily or every other day to remove flea eggs, larvae, and adults. Vacuuming is very effective in killing larvae in the carpet, picking up adults, and stimulating preemerged adults to leave their cocoons. Launder pet bedding in hot, soapy water at least once a week.
Several insecticides are registered for controlling fleas indoors. The most effective products also contain the IGR methoprene or pyriproxyfen. Insecticides are applied directly to infested areas of carpets and furniture. Treatments with insecticides other than IGRs often fail to control flea larvae, because the treatment material fails to contact them at the base of carpet fibers where they develop.
Spray is applied to carpets, pet sleeping areas, carpeted areas beneath furniture, baseboards, windowsills, and other areas harboring adults or larvae. Fleas will continue to emerge for about 2 weeks after treatment, because the spray doesn’t kill pupae. Continue to vacuum, and a second treating of insecticide is applied in 2 to 3 weeks to ensure fleas are eradicated.
Outdoor Environmental Treatments
In South Florida, outdoor flea populations are always a possibility. However, treating the pet with any of the preferred pet treatment products listed above normally will prevent reinfestation.
Outdoor sprays aren’t necessary unless you detect significant numbers of adult fleas. One way to do this is to walk around pet resting areas wearing white socks pulled up to the knee. If fleas are present, they will jump onto socks and be readily visible.
Products for eliminating adult fleas outdoors are somewhat limited because many field populations are resistant to pyrethroids such as permethrin. Apply sprays directly in locations where pets rest and sleep such as doghouse and kennel areas, and next to the foundation. It is seldom necessary to treat the entire yard or lawn areas.
Ticks and Treatment
Ticks are parasitic arachnids that require blood for their development. Adult ticks are easily distinguished from insects based on the number of legs and body regions present. Adult ticks have eight legs and two major body regions.
Ticks are widespread and are commonly encountered by those who spend time outdoors- especially hikers and people with dogs. Adult ticks are commonly found in high grass, while nymphs are found in leaf litter, on logs and wooden benches in natural areas.
Impact on human health and preventing exposure
Ticks are capable of transmitting a wide variety of protozoan, bacterial, viral and fungal diseases. Lyme disease is one tick-borne disease of local concern. The tips below will help to prevent exposure:
Apply an effective tick repellent to exposed skin
Treat clothes/personal outdoor equipment with an acaricide containing permethrin
Wear light-colored clothing (this makes it easier to spot ticks)
Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks whenever possible
Stay on trails
Avoid contact with nymph habitat (leaf litter, logs, tree trunks, etc.)
Periodically check for ticks on people and animals
Wash all clothes in hot water and dry on high heat
Shower after coming indoors and carefully check for ticks
If properly timed, application of pesticides designed to kill ticks can be effective in reducing tick populations near homes. Tick prevention treatment is included as part of our regular pest control plan. During a regular pest control service we pay special attention to the areas ticks can be found. This includes treatment of the landscape, landscape plantings, small trees, and shrubs where ticks most often find good harborage. If ticks become a problem between regularly scheduled services an additional service can be performed.
Treating for ticks is most effective when done throughout the year effectively reducing the number of ticks on the property. Hugh Turner’s Pest Control customized tick prevention Service is specifically tailored to the property needing treatment. No two properties are alike and each has its own features that create tick harborage areas. Interior services are performed upon request.