South Florida Fleas and Ticks: What’s the Difference?
Fleas and ticks can harm our family and pets, latching onto us for a blood meal. While these pests are small, they come with big health risks by transmitting diseases. As warmer weather continues outside, these pests will do the same, thriving in South Florida’s climate. Fleas and ticks often get confused with one another, so it’s helpful to understand the difference between the two so you can keep your family protected.
Fleas are wingless with a reddish-brown, flattened body. Adult fleas will range up to 1/6 of an inch in length. These creatures have mouthparts that are adapted for sucking blood from a host. What is unique about fleas is that they have long, strong back legs that allow them to jump repeatedly from one host to another. A common indication that your pet has fleas is noticing them repeatedly scratching and grooming themselves. Likewise, for humans, fleas will leave behind itchy bite marks on the skin. Another sign is spotting flea feces, or flea dirt, throughout your home. Flea dirt looks like coarse ground black pepper and is typically found in areas where a pet rests.
Depending on their species, ticks come in a variety of sizes and colors. There are two groups of ticks to look out for: hard ticks and soft ticks. The most common tick species in North America include the deer tick, lone star tick, brown dog tick, and American dog tick. While these ticks may look different, they are all seeking a blood meal and a humid place to habitat. They are often found in wooded or vegetated areas. When they find a host, they will typically latch onto the face, legs, armpits, belly, and even in-between toes!
Preventing Fleas & Ticks
Taking precautions before you leave home with your family or pet can help reduce the chances of a flea or tick infestation. Here are a couple of preventative measures you can take to prevent fleas and ticks from biting you, your family, and your pets:
- Wear light-colored clothing and long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toed shoes before exploring wooded or grassy areas
- Utilize insect repellent containing DEET before you leave the house
- Utilize flea repellent treatment for your pets, making sure to consult your veterinarian on the right product for your pet
- After returning from the outdoors, check yourself, your family, and your pets for any ticks and fleas
- Vacuum your home frequently, especially in hard-to-reach spots such as baseboards, under furniture, under cushions, and where your pets sleep or rest
- Keep your lawn grass cut short to help reduce tick and flea populations on your property
- Contact your local South Florida pest control company to inspect, provide a treatment plan, and recommend prevention for the future.
With the arrival of warmer weather, most of us will be spending more time outside with our pets. But while we enjoy being outdoors more, it can expose us and our pets to certain pests, such as fleas and ticks. These parasitic insects carry many diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis.
Fleas and ticks can be difficult to keep at bay, often taking weeks to control. There are many ways to protect you and your pets from these pests; continue reading to find out how.
While fleas and ticks are more common in the summer months, this doesn’t mean they are completely gone. Some tend to survive the winter months indoors, causing havoc year-round. To prevent your pets from being exposed throughout the year, check with your veterinarian to see the best treatment methods for them. Always properly administer and check the expiration date on any treatments given to your pets.
Check your Pets Regularly
If your pet frequents the outdoors, inspecting them before returning indoors will help keep the fleas and ticks away. Ticks like to find warm spots, so checking your pet’s ears, skin, and under armpits are the best places to search. Remove any ticks you might find and reach out to your vet if your pet has been bitten.
Cleaning up your pet’s sleep area at least once a week is a good way to deter or get rid of any pests that have shown up. Get a dog/cat bed that is washable and wipe down their areas frequently. Vacuuming often is also a good way to keep fleas away.
Fleas are known to live in carpets, rugs, and pet bedding. They also avoid high traffic areas, so don’t miss vacuuming near baseboards, under furniture, under cushions, and anywhere your pets sleep or spend significant time.
Keep Your Yard Clean and Don’t Attract Wildlife
Fleas prefer warm, moist, shady areas, while ticks like to hide in tall grass. Mowing your lawn regularly and keeping shrubs trimmed back will give them fewer places to hide in your yard.
Attracting wildlife will surely bring more ticks and fleas into your yard. Try not to leave food and water bowls outside overnight. Keep pet food sealed in containers, use trash cans with locking lids, and seal crawlspaces, garages, sheds, and decks.
If you have taken these preventative measures but are still experiencing a tick and flea problem, it might be time to reach out to your local pest control company for further assistance.
Fleas and ticks are small, annoying, and can be a major health risk to both your family and pets. These parasites can transfer diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. While it can be difficult to prevent these pests, it is possible. We break down our tips and tricks on keeping these pests away!
Fleas like to live in carpets, rugs, and pet bedding. To keep these pests from infesting, consider vacuuming at least once a week and even more often if you spot fleas. Fleas also avoid high traffic areas and will live in harder-to-reach spots such as baseboards, under furniture, under cushions, and anywhere your pets like to sleep too.
Check Your Pets
Pets are highly susceptible to flea and tick exposure. Both fleas and ticks will jump onto pet’s skins, easily making their way inside your home. Perform tick and flea checks on your pets regularly. Make sure that you’re checking all over your pet’s skin, in ears, and under their armpits. If you find a tick or flea, remove them immediately and notify your veterinarian to provide the best treatment plan for your pets.
Stop Attracting Wildlife
Opossums, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and even feral cats will bring fleas and ticks into your yard. It’s essential to keep this wildlife from entering your property to help avoid a flea and tick infestation. Check around your property for any items that might be attracting these animals, such as pet bowls, water bowls, opened trash cans, and even bird feeders. Check around your house for any open holes in gaps that lead to your garage, sheds, decks, and crawlspaces.
It can be difficult to prevent fleas and ticks on your own. If you suspect that you have a flea and tick infestation, consider calling your local professional pest control company to inspect your property and provide you with the best plan of action.
A household pest is any undesired animal that has a history of living, invading, causing damage to, eating food from, acting as a disease vector for, or causing any other harm to a human habitat. While most are considered a nuisance, household pests become dangerous when they pose a risk to health, property, or lifestyle. Household pests aren’t just limited to insects; they also include arachnids, rodents, and wildlife.
While household pests can be found year-round, some are more common in the summer months. Here are 8 of the most common summer household pests and how you can prevent them.
Mosquito season peaks in the summer months. The warm weather and humid environments accelerate their life cycle so they are able to reproduce in large numbers during this time. You are most likely to see mosquitoes when you have standing water on your property. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and the hot, humid climate in summer is ideal for both breeding and to find food sources. Mosquitoes are dangerous to humans as they carry pathogens that can cause serious diseases like Zika and West Nile virus.
Mosquitoes can be prevented by:
- Avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk
- Wearing clothing that covers arms and legs
- Eliminating areas of standing water
- Repair or replace torn window screens
- Apply insect repellent
Ants hibernate in the winter and come out in full force over the summer. They have to forage in the summer months to feed their growing colonies and to build up their reserves for fall. Ants are usually seen indoors in the summer because they are searching for food and water as these can become scarce for them.
Ants can be prevented by:
- Keeping your home clean, especially the kitchen
- Not leaving pet food and water bowls outdoors
- Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed away from the house
- Sealing cracks and holes in your home’s exterior
Fleas are prevalent in the summer months, although they can be found on pets year-round. Pets will indicate the presence of fleas by scratching and biting when they come in from outdoors.
Fleas can be prevented by:
- Treating pets for fleas with preventative medication
- Vacuuming frequently, especially in areas that pets frequent, and disposing of the bag immediately
- Treating your yard with outdoor flea spray
- Washing pet bedding and toys weekly in hot water
Ticks are problematic to humans and pets because they spread diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Tick bites increase in the summer because people and animals are spending more time outside. The US is also seeing an increase in ticks because of the combination of mild winters and an increased population of deer and rodents which are known to carry ticks.
Ticks can be prevented by:
- Using tick preventatives on pets
- Wearing long sleeves and closed toe shoes when outdoors
- Avoid areas with high grass or woods when possible
- Eliminating debris and wood piles from your property
- Wearing insect repellent
- Checking yourself and your pets for ticks immediately after coming in from outdoors
- Removing any ticks found immediately
Termite swarming season is in the spring but these newly established colonies grow exponentially in the summer. Termites can go long periods of time undetected, causing significant damage to your home. It is important to keep an eye out for signs of termites so you can catch them early.
Termites can be prevented by:
- Eliminating wood to soil contact around foundations
- Creating a 4 inch barrier between wood mulch and your home
- Keeping plants a few feet away from your home
- Making sure storm drains point away from foundations
- Fixing leaks and eliminating any other sources of excess moisture
- Having an annual termite inspection performed
While most people view grasshoppers as just a nuisance pest, they can be devastating to gardeners and farmers. Grasshoppers can devour an entire field of crops in just a few days. Grasshoppers surge in large numbers in the summer months and are most prevalent in dry, hot summers. Grasshoppers can also cause damage to non-farmers as these are one of the only pests that can chew through screens.
Grasshoppers can be prevented by:
- Plant flowers that deter grasshoppers (lilac, crepe myrtle, verbena, sage, juniper)
- Plant vegetables that don’t attract grasshoppers (squash, peas, tomatoes)
- Introduce predators by making your garden attractive to birds
- Use floating row covers on crops and plants
- Consider natural products that kill grasshoppers without harming other animals or plants (Nosema locustae or Beauveria bassiana)
Flies invade your home in the summer months to escape the heat. They only reproduce during the hotter months and reproduce even more prolifically when they get indoors. Flies will stick around well into the fall months.
Flies can be prevented by:
- Keeping windows, doors, and vents sealed
- Using garbage cans with tight fitting lids
- Taking the garbage out when it is full
- Storing food in airtight containers
- Not leaving dirty dishes out
- Not leaving grass clippings in the yard
- Turning off outdoor lights at night
Stinging insects mate in the spring and their populations grow during the summer months. Hornets and yellow jackets are especially common in the summer because they have to establish new nests each year. These are usually found under decking or under piles of leaves. These stinging insects are potentially dangerous for people with allergies. Yellow jackets and bees can also get into the walls of homes, causing significant damage.
Stinging insects can be prevented by:
- Wearing shoes when outdoors
- Keeping trash cans tightly covered
- Eliminating dirt patches on your lawn
- Avoiding sweet smelling perfumes
- Don’t swat at stinging insects
Don’t let these common summer pests ruin your summer. If you have a problem with any of these pests, contact a professional pest control company who can help eliminate them safely and prevent them going forward.
You May Also Be Interested In:
Termites: How to Stop Their Damage
Keeping Cool for the Summer
Turning A Yellow Lawn Green
Fleas, Ticks, and Chiggers: What’s the Difference?
Pigeons, Sparrows, & Starlings: Nuisance Bird Control
Summer brings hot temperatures and high humidity. It also brings some of the most annoying pests – fleas and ticks. These parasites can cause significant health issues for your pets including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. Fleas and ticks are practically impossible to keep at bay and can take weeks to months to get under control. What can you do to protect your pets from these parasites? Check out these 8 tips to prevent fleas and ticks from taking over your pets and your home.
- Use a preventative year-round. While fleas and ticks are more common in the summer months, some can survive indoors during the winter. Check with your vet to see which preventative product is best for your pet and use it as directed. Make sure to check the expiration dates on products as they will lose their effectiveness after the expiration date. Check with your vet to see if there are any new products you can try that may not have been on the market before. Make sure to check the labels to ensure dog products are used on dogs and cat products are used on cats. Some products that are made for dogs contain an ingredient that is toxic to cats.
- Check regularly for ticks. You should perform tick checks on your pets regularly, especially if you have been in areas that may have ticks. Make sure to check all over your pet’s skin, in their ears, and under their armpits. Remove any ticks that you find immediately and notify your vet if your pet has been bitten.
- Groom your pet regularly. Comb your pet on a regular basis with a flea comb/brush. this allows you to bond with your pet while still giving you a chance to check for any parasites that may be hiding under their fur. Bathe them at least once a week with a flea and tick shampoo.
- Get regular checkups. Make sure to stay up to date with routine examinations with your vet. During the exam your vet will check for any signs of parasite problems to make sure the preventative product you are using is effective.
- Clean behind your pets. Clean crates and carriers at least once a week with warm, soapy water. Commit to a weekly wipe down of their equipment. Bedding should be cleaned in hot water at least once a week. Choose a pet bed that has washable, removable cushions and covers. If you can, try and have more than one cover so you can replace one while the other is washing. If your pet’s bedding looks or smells dirty even after washing, replace it and start a regular laundering schedule.
- Vacuum often. Fleas are known to live in carpets, rugs, and pet bedding. Try to vacuum at least once a week and more often if you actually spot fleas. Fleas also avoid high traffic areas so make sure to vacuum along baseboards, under furniture, under cushions, and anywhere your pets sleep or spend significant time. Change your vacuum bags frequently.
- Clean up your yard. Fleas prefer warm, moist, shady areas while ticks like to hide in tall grass. Mow your lawn regularly. Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed back. Rake leaves, brush, and clippings from your yard to give pests fewer places to hide and breed.
- Don’t attract wildlife. Wildlife like opossums, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and feral cats can bring fleas and ticks into your yard. Try to limit the access these animals have around your house and in your yard. Don’t leave bowls of pet food and water outside. Keep pet food stored in sealed containers. Remove food from bird feeders nightly. Use trashcans with locking lids. Seal any openings to crawlspaces, garages, sheds, and decks.
If you suspect a flea or tick problem, call a professional pest control company who can come and thoroughly inspect your home and yard and provide you with a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.