Flea & Tick Prevention

Flea and tick season is almost over in Southern California (here the season ranges from April through September), but it is never too late to remember some flea & tick prevention tips to keep our furry friends safe. This article will offer some flea and tick prevention ideas to keep your pets pest-free from bothersome parasites.

Cat Fleas

According to Pest World, the cat flea is the most common flea infesting homes of people and domestic animals. Cat fleas are not host-specific and are found on different hosts, including: opossums, raccoons, birds and cats and dogs. The cat flea’s wide range of suitable hosts means that there are always plentiful feeding sources. Fleas prefer non-human hosts, but will feed on humans in heavy infestation situations or when other hosts are unavailable. Adult fleas typically spend their lifetime on a host, however, the flea lays eggs that will fall off and hatch in carpets, furniture, pet bedding and other fabric surfaces.

Adult Cat Flea

Photo by: Ralph Williams, Purdue University

Why Do Fleas Spread So Quickly?

Most adult fleas DO NOT hitchhike from one host to the next. Instead, they prefer to spend an entire life cycle on one host. The female cat flea can lay between 25-40 eggs each day until she has laid approximately 300 eggs. These tiny eggs allow for the spread of the flea infestation. Flea eggs will hatch between 2-5 days in favorable conditions (warm and humid conditions both indoors and outside).

Flea Life Cycle
Illustration by: Scott Charlesworth, Purdue University,
based in part on Elbel, R.E., 1991, IN: Immature Insects, Volume 2

Dog Ticks

Ticks are another common pet pests. The American dog tick is a common blood-feeding pest and can also spread diseases. The American dog tick will feed on humans and medium- to large-sized mammals, including dogs and raccoon. Dog tick larvae and nymphs will feed on small warm-blooded animals including rodents and birds. Stuart, S. (2013, June). Dos & Don’ts Ticks. Pest Management Professional, 30.

Flea and Tick Prevention Tips

A flea problem that goes unchecked can turn into a full-blown flea infestation.

  • Check pets regularly for fleas and ticks. Pay close attention to excessive licking, itching and scratching
  • Stay away from tall grasses, which are perfect hiding places for ticks and fleas to hitch a ride
  • Groom pets after walks
  • Clean pet bedding and toys on a regular basis
  • Vacuum often and dispose of vacuum contents outside
  • Stay clear of tick habitats, which include low lying brush near walking trails and woods. Wear light-colored, tightly woven clothing when spending time in dense vegetation and bushy areas, so ticks can be seen easily.

Tick Facts & Fiction

All ticks carry Lyme disease. FICTION. Only black-legged ticks transmit Lyme disease.

Ticks jump on hosts passing trees. FICTION. Ticks are incapable of jumping. Instead they wait in tall grassy areas, usually knee level and below, for a suitable host to brush up against them.

Ticks burrow under the skin. FICTION. Ticks use a piercing mouth part to insert into a host, but do not embed into the skin.

Tick removal should be performed with a hot match, nail polish, rubbing alcohol or petroleum jelly. FICTION. The best tick removal method is with a pair of tweezers used to pull the tick straight out. Any other method may irritate the tick and cause it to inject fluids back into the host.

McGovern, J. (2013, February). Ticks Fact vs. Fiction. Pest Management Professional, 72.

Is This a Flea Bite?

Everyone reacts differently to flea bites, but there are some ways to distinguish between different bites.

  • Ants and spiders leave two marks after a bite
  • Fire ant bites sting and leave a pustule after a couple of days
  • Mosquitoes, bees, wasps and bed bugs leave a welt.
  • Flea bites leave a small, hard, red, itchy and slightly raised spot. A puncture point is usually visible in the center of the red spot. Some individuals may not have any reaction at all.

Source: Bennett, G., Owens, J., & Corrigan, R. (2010). Fleas, Ticks and Other Ectoparasites. Truman’s Scentific Guide to Pest Management Operations (Seventh ed., pp. 292-316). Cleveland: Questex Media Group LLC.

Flea & Tick Control Services

Fleas and ticks can spread quickly if a flea or tick problem goes unchecked. Even following good flea and tick prevention habits may lead to an unfortunate flea or tick problem. Let AmeriGuard helprid your home or yard of these unwanted parasites. Call today (951) 652-0505 for more information about a flea or tick service.