Warm Winter Stirring Ticks and Fleas
All throughout Florida and the United States, unusually warm winter weather is obvious. It is pleasant to have such beautiful weather; however, it means a higher chance of pest infestation for your home and pets.
During the winter months, most pests go into a form of hibernation and wait till spring to swarm about. Eggs and cocoons are the same; they stay dormant until the appropriate temperatures are met to initiate hatching. Those insects that do stay active develop an internal mechanism that acts similar to antifreeze. Florida’s temperature is typically mild in winter which tends to make fleas and ticks a year-round nuisance.
In any flea or tick infestation, the individuals present in the condition face many serious health risks. Lyme disease is a common disease spread from ticks to humans and can be potentially fatal. Both pests, in order to eat, must consume blood from a host. By coming into contact with blood, the pathogens the pest carry will be transmitted to the host’s blood.
Tick Species of Florida
Among the many species of ticks in Florida, the brown dog ticks and American dog ticks are the most abundant. All ticks are considered a parasite not an insect; they closely resemble spiders. Animals are mainly attacked by ticks due to the animals visiting the source location of the ticks typically being in wooded areas. It is not rare for a human to have a tick bite. Most dog ticks are considered to be a wood tick. After engorging themselves off the blood of an animal, a female tick is capable of laying 1000-3000 eggs!
Ticks have special mouthparts that allow them to pierce the skin of the host and hold on securely with their curved backward teeth. The brown dog tick is not a vector to human diseases however they can spread canine piroplasmosis to dogs. The American dog tick is prone to cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and paralysis in dogs and children. The paralysis is caused by a specific toxin that is released by the feeding ticks. Lyme disease is traced to deer ticks which are not abundant in Florida and so we have a significantly lower Lyme disease rate compared to New England.
Flea Species of Florida
Like the ticks, fleas also have specific mouthparts that allow them to pierce the skin of a host and consume blood. The most commonly handled flea in Florida is the cat flea. Regardless of its name, they attack a wide variety of species including dogs, mice, rabbits, chickens, and humans. Dog, Human, and Sticktight Fleas are also found in Florida and are capable of causing as much irritation as the cat flea. Female fleas lay batches of eggs about 3-18 eggs at a time. The eggs will begin to hatch in up to 12 days.
Fleas are noticed easily whether the infestation may be outdoors or indoors. The fleas attack your pets and then begin to cause them to itch uncontrollably. The flea is visible to the naked eye and can be noticed if the pet’s coat is brushed with a fine comb. Your pet may develop tiny red marks on their undersides from the biting of the fleas. If the pet is left untreated for fleas, there is a high chance the pet will begin to have tapeworms which are sometimes visible near their rectum.
Fleas are vectors to diseases that can be transmitted to humans. These diseases include plague, typhus, and tularemia. When a human is attacked by fleas, it becomes obvious with the inflamed red bite marks. Many times with sensitive individuals infections may develop from the bite mark.
Stay cautious this winter season. Constantly monitor your pets and yourself if you frequently visit wooded areas. Ticks and fleas cause homeowners many headaches and costly maintenance. If you are unsure if your exterior environment is a good source for any flea or tick habitats, contact Reynolds Pest to have your surroundings evaluated. Preventing the possibility of a tick or flea infestation is the best form of protection from these pests.