Fleas, Ticks, and Chiggers: What’s the Difference?

Fleas, Ticks, and Chiggers: What’s the Difference?

Summertime for most families means more time outdoors: exploring local parks, hiking mountains, kayaking down rivers, or simply lounging in your backyard. While these activities are fun for everyone, you can expose yourself to pests that like to bite. Fleas, ticks, and chiggers can be considered small, annoying, and hard to spot! Let’s break down the difference between all three of these parasites and some tips on bite prevention.

Fleas
Fleas

Small and wingless, fleas are dark reddish-brown in color and are only 1/8 of an inch long. Fleas can be found in almost any environment, but they are most active in warm, humid temperatures. While these pests feed on warm-blooded bodies, including humans, they do prefer to dine on hairy animals such as dogs, cats, rats, opossums, and more. Fleas are extremely hard to spot since they move so fast to a warm-blooded body. 

Fleas can jump up to 8 inches high and 13 inches horizontally. This means that they can jump 150 times their own height, making finding a host to feed on very easy. Flea bites can be small, red, itchy spots on the skin. If the spot is scratched or irritated, it can begin to bleed. 

Ticks
Ticks

Ticks are orange-brown with dark legs and have a flat oval shape for a body. At a length of 1/8 of an inch, adult ticks actually have 8 legs and two body segments, making them an arachnid and not an insect. Ticks live in low-lying areas such as grass, shrubs, and bushes. These pests need blood to survive and will therefore feed on humans, squirrels, raccoons, birds, dogs, and more. 

When ticks bite their host, it can cause irritation, an allergic reaction, and mouth parts can even remain in the host’s skin. Ticks are considered dangerous as they are known to transfer Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. 

Chiggers
Chiggers

Sometimes referred to as mites or red bugs, chiggers are extremely small and difficult to spot. Red, orange, yellow or straw-colored, these arachnids are no more than .3 millimeters long. Chiggers can be found in areas of wood and grass, near lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. 

While they don’t pose a serious health risk, they can leave behind an uncomfortable rash after a bite that you’ll want to scratch. Chigger bites are most common in the late spring, summer, and early fall.

It’s important to take precautions if you know you and your family will be in areas where fleas, ticks, and chiggers are present. Here are some things you can do to prevent bites from these pests: 

  • Use bug repellent that contains DEET
  • When in wooded areas or tall grass, wear long pants, long sleeves, and closed toed shoes
  • Treat your pets with repellent products to reduce their risk of getting bitten.
  • If you notice these pests are infesting your yard or are inside your home, its best to call your local pest control company who can provide the best plan of action for prevention. 
Why Are These Ants Flying?!

Why Are These Ants Flying?!

You’re lounging outside enjoying the peaceful outdoors when a flying pest zooms past you. You then realize it’s actually a flying ant! Don’t worry! Flying ants are actually very common, especially during seasons of high humidity. While flying ants are not a huge threat to humans, they can be a major nuisance, especially if they enter your home. 

Flying ants swarm for the same reasons that termites swarm which is to reproduce and expand their colonies. These pests will swarm in late spring and the early summer when there’s bright sunlight and warm temperatures. Flying ants also prefer to swarm 3 to 5 days after a rainstorm.

While flying ants won’t cause damage to your home, they can make their way inside. It’s important to know what prevention steps to take when dealing with these pests. 

  • During peak swarm season, try to keep your windows and doors closed as much as possible.
  • If pests have already entered your home, just vacuum them up. You will most likely find them near bright lights, light fixtures or windows.
  • If you suspect these pests are inside your walls, don’t tear away any woodwork, trim, baseboards, or wall coverings; simply use your thumb to press against the wood to feel for defects.
  • Don’t spray the swarms with insecticide; instead, mark areas where they are getting into your home and notify your pest control professional.

Remember, if you see them flying by outside, don’t be too alarmed. If they end up inside your home, however, it’s always best to call your local pest control company who can determine the best plan of action.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Cockroaches

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Cockroaches

Cockroaches have been around for over 300 million years – even longer than the dinosaurs! These pests are resilient and adaptive with odd behaviors and survival tactics which have helped them survive for so long. While most homeowners are aware of the health risks associated with roaches, including allergies, asthma, and the spread of germs and bacteria, there are lots of interesting facts about cockroaches you might not realize. Here are 7 things you might not know about cockroaches.

  1. They’re everywhere! There are almost 4500 species of cockroaches worldwide with new species still being discovered. German cockroaches are the most common species. The largest species is found in South America. This cockroach averages 6 inches in length with an impressive 1 foot wingspan! The average cockroach is only 1/2″ to 2″ in length.
  2. They like their beauty sleep. Roaches spend 75% of their time resting. They are also not morning people. When roaches awaken they are unable to form new memories. It takes them time to become functional and they don’t start to retain new information until later in the day.
  3. They are flexible. Roaches can squeeze through a gap as small as 1/4 of their body length. They accomplish this feat by flattening their bodies and turning their legs to the side.
  4. They are speed demons. Roaches are fast movers reaching speeds of up to 3 mph. Even babies can move at these rapid speeds. This not only allows them to quickly invade new spaces but also allows them to spread bacteria and germs at a much faster pace.
  5. They can go without food, water, and their heads. Roaches can go up to a month without food and up to a week without water or their heads. They could actually live longer without their heads but the absence of their mouth leaves them unable to eat or drink. Roaches will eat anything from dead insects to soap, cloth, and glue. They have even been known to eat other roaches when food supplies are low or the infestation gets so large in an effort to reduce the population.
  6. They can hold their breath. Roaches are master breath holders. They can submerge in water for up to 1/2 an hour and hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. This is mostly due to their efficient breathing system that allows them to breathe through holes in their body segments rather than their mouths. Holding their breath also helps regulate their loss of water.
  7. Roaches are found in chocolate. Yes, you read that right! There are an average of 8 insect parts in each bar of chocolate you consume.The FDA has deemed this a safe amount for consumption. The solution to this dilemma is to apply more pesticides which would be more harmful than actually consuming the insects. These parts can also trigger allergic reactions when they are consumed. That chocolate allergy might, in fact, be a cockroach allergy instead. This can lead to rash, itching, respiratory problems, and even migraines.

Cockroaches are one of the most highly adaptable pests on earth which makes them extremely difficult to control or eliminate. To prevent cockroaches keep food sealed and stored properly; clean your kitchen daily; don’t leave food or pet food out overnight; dispose of garbage regularly and use cans with sealing and locking lids; identify any small cracks or holes around your home and seal them; and make sure basements and crawlspaces are kept dry and well ventilated. If you suspect you have a cockroach infestation, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment and prevention plan.

 

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The 411 on Granddaddy Long Legs

The 411 on Granddaddy Long Legs

The granddaddy long legs is legendary – with claims of being the “most poisonous spider in the world but their mouths are too small to bite.” Like most legends, these claims are exaggerated and aren’t based on facts. So what is the truth about these creatures? Here’s everything you need to know about the granddaddy long legs.

Is the Granddaddy Long Legs a Spider?

No. The granddaddy long legs, AKA the daddy long legs, harvest spider, and harvestman, is actually an arthropod and closer genetically to the scorpion than a spider. While they do have 8 legs like spiders, the resemblance ends there. Spiders have spinnerets that spin silk for their webs; granddaddy long legs don’t. Spiders also have 2 body sections connected by a small, narrow waist. Granddaddy long legs have 1 body section containing their head, abdomen, and body combined. Spiders can have fangs and produce venom. Granddaddy long legs don’t have fangs and don’t produce venom. Spiders live on a liquid diet while granddaddy long legs have chelicerae (tiny claws used to hold and tear things) so they can eat small pieces of solid food. Granddaddy long legs can also self amputate their legs as a defense mechanism against predators. Unfortunately, once they lose a leg they cannot grow it back.

What Attracts Granddaddy Long Legs?

Granddaddy long legs are omnivores and eat a wide variety of things. They are known to eat dead and live insects, spiders, aphids, worms, snails, fungus, and even bird droppings.

What Are Granddaddy Long Legs Good For?

Granddaddy long legs use their varied diets to keep to keep your gardens and yard free of other pests. They don’t cause damage to structures or landscaping and aren’t dangerous to humans.

How Do You Get Rid of Granddaddy Long Legs?

Because they aren’t harmful to humans and don’t damage any structures or landscaping in your yard or garden, it is best to leave granddaddy long legs alone. Sometimes they are known to congregate in large numbers. If this is the case or if you have an issue with these or other pests, contact your local pest control company who can thoroughly evaluate your home and provide you with the appropriate treatment and prevention plan for your situation.

 

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What Attracts Millipedes to Your Home?

What Attracts Millipedes to Your Home?

Seeing “thousand legger”, creepy-crawly, slithering, worm-like pests in mass amounts inside your home? You’re not alone. They’re called millipedes and millipedes in houses are common at certain times during the year, particularly after heavy rains, during drought, or when temperatures drop – all conditions that can make their outdoor habitats less comfortable. Once millipedes are in the house, they’ll search for shelter and a source of moisture – preferring damp areas such as basements, laundry rooms, and crawlspaces.

Here’s everything you need to know about millipedes, what attracts them to your house, and how to prevent a millipede infestation:

 

What Do Millipedes Look Like?

Millipedes are arthropods, not insects, that typically have hundreds of legs (not thousands as their nickname implies). Their size depends on the species but they usually range from 1/4 to 2 inches long with slender, round bodies – similar to worms.

Are Millipedes Dangerous or Harmful?

Although creepy to some, millipedes are not dangerous or harmful to humans or pets. They don’t bite or sting, infest or damage wood, food or clothing – but they can release an unpleasant-smelling fluid if threatened that may cause skin irritation. If you come directly in contact with millipedes, rinse the affected area immediately after.

What Do Millipedes Eat?

Millipedes feed on dead and decaying matter – anything that’s rotting, dead insects, vegetable matter – which is vital in the decomposition of plants and animals, an important step in the soil fertilization process. They will occasionally eat young plants but the damage is usually minimal.

Where Do Millipedes Come From?

Millipedes prefer to be outdoors and can be found in areas with a lot of moisture – under rocks, piles of wood, flowerpots, in leaf litter or grass clippings, in gardens and flowerbeds, under mulch – any hiding spot that’s damp and undisturbed. You’re more likely to see them at night, when they leave their habitats, crawling around on sidewalks, driveways, patios, etc.

What Attracts Millipedes?

When weather conditions aren’t ideal outdoors, millipedes can migrate into structures in large numbers via doorways, expansion joints, and/or wall voids. Once inside, millipedes will die quickly, especially if there is no abundant source of moisture. If you’re seeing millipedes inside frequently, it may be a sign that they are breeding outside around your home, or that you have moisture issues that need to be corrected.

How to Get Rid of Millipedes

The best way to prevent a millipede infestation is to eliminate debris and decaying matter from around your home and yard – especially around your home’s perimeter, and correct moisture issues. Repair leaking pipes or faucets, check to be sure lawn sprinklers are functioning properly, consider upgrading your gutters with a gutter guard system, and ensure basements or crawlspaces are adequately ventilated. One of the most effective methods to reduce moisture and improve overall home health is to enclose your crawlspace.

If you’re seeing millipedes inside, a quick fix is to use a vacuum to get rid of them. If you’re experiencing a millipede infestation, it could be a sign of other issues, and it’s recommended to get your home inspected by a pest control company that can identify and correct entry points, check for and make suggestions related to moisture problems, and get you on a routine pest control service – to prevents future millipede and other pest infestations. Request a free estimate now or call (888) 466-7849.

Signs You’ve Got a Rat in the House

Signs You’ve Got a Rat in the House

Homeowners can all agree that the idea of having rats inside your home can be very alarming! These rodents can easily sneak into your basement, walls, and even in kitchen cabinets. At first, rats may not reveal themselves to you. However, there are a few clues to look for when you start to suspect you might have rats roaming inside your house.

One sign that you possibly have rats is seeing gnawing marks. Rats are known to sneak behind walls and gnaw on wires. This can be especially dangerous as it can increase the risk of a fire in the home. Make sure to check out any exposed wood inside or around your house for gnawing marks.

Another common sign of rats is seeing their nests. Rats usually prefer to nest underground or in attics and you’ll typically find them in dark secluded areas hidden from any possible disturbances.  They commonly build their nests using paper products like cotton, fabrics, wall insulation, or any soft material found in the environment. Rats are also known to leave tracks or rub marks throughout your home while following a trail from their nest to food sources. They will usually leave dark grease or dirt marks along walls and floorboards. 

A major sign you’ve got a rat infestation is seeing their droppings. Rat droppings usually measure around 1/8-1/4” long and are generally left behind randomly, but are often found in places where food is stored, such as cabinets or pantries. You can also find droppings inside cardboard boxes, along baseboards, and even on top of wall beams. Seeing rat droppings could indicate that its time get rodent control help from a professional pest control company. Professionals are able to inspect the home and begin the best method of treatment.

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