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Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. Cat fleas are the most common domestic flea, but dog fleas, human fleas and oriental rat fleas can also be found. Fleas do not fly. Instead, they use their powerful legs to jump onto a passing host. 

Flea bites can result in painful, itchy red bumps. Fleas are also the most common transmitter of the rare bubonic plague. 

Fleas are the most prevalent parasite found on fur-bearing animals, such as dogs and cats. There are an estimated 2,000 species of fleas worldwide, and more than 300 types are found in the United States. 

 

WHAT DOES A FLEA LOOK LIKE?

Fleas are small, wingless, flat insects with three pairs of legs. Adult fleas are about 1/8 of an inch long (1 to 3 mm). They are dark reddish-brown in color and have biting mouthparts. They can be very hard to spot because they move so fast along the animal's body. Flea-combs and wetting an animal's hair can help you grasp them for a visual inspection. 

WHAT DO FLEAS EAT?

Fleas feed on any warm-blooded body, including humans. However, they prefer to dine on hairy animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, opossums, raccoons and skunks.

WHERE DO FLEAS LIVE?

Once a flea hatches and becomes an adult, it uses its powerful legs to jump onto a host, where it likely remains at all times. While attached, the flea will feed, mate and lay eggs. The eggs often fall off of the host into the yard, bedding, carpeting or blankets.

ARE FLEAS DANGEROUS?

Fleas not only cause discomfort from biting, but they are also vectors of the bubonic plague. While there are few cases reported today, this rare disease wiped out one-third of Europe in the 14th century. Additionally, they can spread the bacterial disease murine typhus, which is transmitted to humans through infected rats. In pets, fleas serve as an intermediate host for tapeworm. The saliva of these biting pests is known to cause serious flea allergy dermatitis in dogs and cats.

HOW CAN I PREVENT FLEA INFESTATION?

There are a few tips that people should follow to prevent fleas from becoming an itchy nuisance.

Around the House

  • Maintain a clean home. Practicing good sanitation is key to avoiding an infestation.
  • Vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently, and wash bed linens regularly, to remove any existing fleas and help prevent the laying of eggs.
  • Since fleas can transport themselves on rodents, it's important to eliminate any rodent harboring points by keeping the lawn properly landscaped. This includes mowing the lawn on a regular basis, properly securing entry points and windows, and removing all moisture sites around the property.

Pet Care

  • Check pets' coats thoroughly for fleas, especially after spending time outdoors. Be aware of excessive scratching and licking.
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals.
  • Wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys frequently.
  • Speak to a veterinarian about flea prevention treatments.

Fleas have the ability to reproduce quickly, which makes flea infestations very difficult to control. In fact, fleas can produce as many as 400 to 500 offspring in their lifetime. A veterinarian can recommend the best methods and products for treating fleas on your pet.

It's important to contact a licensed pest control professional if you discover fleas in your home! Contact Westfall's Pest Control at (941) 761-0125 for a FREE pest inspection and a Bug Free Guarantee!

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Fleas 101

Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. The most common species is the cat flea, which often feasts on cats, dogs and humans.

Habits
Fleas can live for about 100 days during which time the females produce 400-500 offspring. Fleas transport themselves on rodents and other mammals, and usually remain on their hosts at all times. These pests use their powerful legs to jump as high as 8" vertically, which is 150 times their own height. If humans could do this, we would be able to leap over skyscrapers.

Habitat
Fleas infest both household pets and wild animals like opossums, raccoons and skunks. They can also be found on shoes, pant legs or blankets, which can transfer the fleas to new environments.

Threats
Fleas are the most common transmitter of the rare bubonic plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Their saliva can cause serious flea allergy dermatitis in pets and their debris has been reported to cause similar allergic reactions in humans. Fleas can also transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets, which is why active flea management is an important component of pet care. Flea bites commonly cause painful, itchy red bumps.

Flea Prevention
Looking to get rid of fleas in the home? Homeowners should clean and vacuum frequently to help remove flea populations and prevent the laying of eggs. It's also necessary to keep the lawn groomed to avoid rodent habitation. Pet owners should practice active flea management by keeping dogs on a leash when outside, bathing and grooming pets regularly, visiting a veterinarian annually, and using flea treatments according to direction. If you suspect a flea infestation, it is important to hire a flea control professional to rid your home of rodents and fleas.

Source: pestworld.org

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When the family goes outside to play, it isn't just the kids bringing unwanted pests back inside. Animal fur is ideal for pet pests such as fleas and ticks to grab onto as Fido explores the backyard.

Fleas and ticks have unique adaptations that make them well suited to finding and feeding on mammals to survive. Keep reading to find out facts you may never have known about these tiny pests.

All about ticks

  • Must love dogs - Some tick species have preferred hosts. The American dog tick prefers to feed on domestic dogs and therefore is one of the most common tick species brought into homes.
  • All you can eat buffet - Ticks are much easier to spot after a meal. Some species will grow almost four times in size when engorged with blood.
  • High four - To find a host, ticks clasp onto shrubs or grass with their back legs and reach their front legs out to grasp onto passing fur or clothing.
  • Moving up in the world - Wherever they attach, ticks will crawl toward the head of their host. The skin around the neck and ears is thinner and these areas are also hardest for animals to groom.


All about fleas

  • Good vertical - Fleas can jump up to eight feet, which is 150 times their own height.
  • Here to stay - Unlike other pests, fleas typically remain on their host at all times. However, they are easily transferable to furniture or between animals.
  • Black sheep of the family - There are more than 2,000 known species and subspecies of fleas, but one species - the cat flea - accounts for the majority of infestations in the United States.
  • Don't blame the dog - Fleas infest many animals like rodents and raccoons as well. If you suspect a rodent infestation, fleas may soon follow.
  • Pet pests pose unique threats to both people and pets as they are easily transferable, difficult to spot and carriers of multiple diseases. While fleas are primarily an itchy annoyance, they can cause flea allergy dermatitis, transfer tapeworms and in rare cases, transmit bubonic plague if they've fed on an infected rodent. Ticks are not as noticeable as fleas but they are known to carry very serious diseases such as Lyme disease and cause "tick paralysis" in animals.

Homeowners should thoroughly check pets' fur for fleas and ticks after they've been out in the yard or at the park as these pests can certainly infest homes. One of the easiest ways to do a pest check is by brushing the animal's fur and using your hand to smooth fur along the body. Also, be on the lookout for skin irritations on your pet and excessive scratching, both of which are good indicators of fleas or ticks. If you suspect you have an infestation in the home, consult a pest professional to recommend the best treatment option.

Source: pestworld.org

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One needs to be very alert and careful about keeping their house clean and free of any pests especially if there is a dog or cat in the house. Pets are very prone to infestation by ticks and fleas despite regular baths and make sure you consult your vet about over-the-counter medicines to get rid of them. If you have a dog, bathe it at least once a week and always use an anti-fleas and ticks shampoo.

I have had many patients who have come to the Out Patient Department (OPD) complaining of a feeling of uneasiness and pain in their ears. On further examination, I found that it was because these ticks entered their ear. Recently, I had a patient who complained of intense pain in his ear following which I removed three ticks from the left ear. They were lodged deep inside his ear and were sucking on his blood. Luckily, the ear drum wasn’t damaged since he came to the clinic in time.

Such cases are quite common. Ticks can also cause Lyme disease and a tick bite can lead to rashes, itching, bumps and redness as they tend to latch on to human beings as well. If you notice any tick bite on your body, avoid scratching it as it can cause infection. Instead, clean it with warm water and an antiseptic.

Other than ticks and fleas, Dr Valand says he has also removed cockroaches, ants, and other insects from his patients’ ears. It is important to keep your house clean and regularly not only clean your pet’s bedding but also your kitchen and bathrooms where these insects usually tend to breed. 

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Fleas are now mutating, making them resistant to the popular flea control products pet owners have come to rely on in the flea season. The experts are stating what pet owners have known for a while now, and the validation, while concerning, is a step in the right direction.

Vets like Katherine Van Ekert with Vet Pronto in San Francisco's Bay Area are telling their clients solutions, like Advantage and Frontline, that worked in the past are no longer offering benefits to your pets. Van Ekert is advising clients not to waste their money on them, according to San Francisco's local CBS, who says the fleas have mutated in a manner of survival of the fittest.

"You can imagine when we're applying a flea product that's designed to kill a flea and those fleas have random mutations, the genes that are resulting and are allowing the fleas to survive are going to win," said Dr. Van Ekert.

"This past summer has been dragging on months and months, so flea populations, they have been really small to start off with and they're growing," Dr. Van Ekert said, noting the warm weather is not helping curb flea populations, according to News 9 in Oklahoma City. "Normally, they go into dormancy in the winter, so they will hibernate for a while. But it just hasn't been cold enough for that yet."

As a solution to the problem, vets are now recommending oral medication for flea control, one that seems to help is Nextguard by Frontline.

"They really don't need anythin, but a dog or a cat to feed on and as long as that's available they will keep laying eggs. So you have to treat the house, the yard and the pet for the best flea control," said Dr. Denise Genix according to WTSP.

Dr. Genix, of South Tampa Veterinary Clinic explains there isn't one solution to fight fleas, you have to hit all of the flea cycles, and reiterates that oral flea medications are more effective than topical medications for your pets.

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