It can be tempting to consider all creepy, crawly, biting bugs the same… but the differences between fleas and ticks are pretty significant in terms of your health and your home. Both are parasites and are after your blood – but they pose very different threats.
Fleas are tiny insects – so small that they are hard for most people to see unless there are a lot of them. When you do spot one, it will have six legs and two antennae. They also tend to come in hordes.
A single flea can find a mate and lay eggs within 48 hours – laying up to 25 eggs a day. Fleas will generally be more interested in your pets than you, liking to hide in your pet’s fur and feast on their blood. Humans can get flea bites when they come into an area full of fleas… but the fleas will look for a better, fur-covered host to live on.
Ticks, on the other hand, are arachnids just like spiders. They have eight legs and like to hide along your hairline or other hidden nooks and crannies. They like humans just as much as any other warm-blooded animals.
While no bug bite is fun, deciding which is worse between fleas and ticks is a matter of perspective.
History buffs will recall that fleas are thought to be responsible for some major problems in history, including the black plague. Fleas feed on animals primarily, but when there is an infestation, they will bite whatever food source is nearby… and that could be you.
On the upside, the bubonic plague was deadly in the Middle Ages because of the lack of antibiotics. With modern medicine, it is certainly not something to look forward to, but it is not as deadly as it once was. Fleas still transmit disease but not as readily to humans.
Ticks, on the other hand (especially the deer ticks that are most prevalent on Long Island), carry diseases that we are still learning to fight. Deer ticks are the primary transmission vector for Lyme disease and may carry other illnesses as well.
If your pet starts scratching a lot more than usual, it is time to look for the source of irritation. Telltale signs of a flea problem are lots of little insects jumping around and flea dirt. Flea dirt is actually flea excrement… but it looks a lot like sand or dandruff in your pet’s fur.
Areas of matted fur can also be a sign of fleas. You may also find live fleas by using a very thin-bristled comb to brush your pet.
Ticks on pets – like ticks on humans – try to hide, so you will be looking for a bug attached to your pet’s skin in a crevice or difficult-to-spot area. They especially like behind the ears and in the crook of the leg. Visual inspection and finding the tick is the best evidence of a tick problem.
If you have ticks or fleas, it is time to call a professional. For pets, you will need a good flea treatment from your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter flea treatments just are not as good.
Then, you will need to treat the house. Flea eggs like to hide in carpets and furniture, hatching up to 8 weeks later and re-infecting the house. Once you have a professional treatment, you will want to vacuum often to help get rid of any lingering eggs.
For a tick problem, you likely need to treat your yard. Ticks prefer to live outdoors and can survive in temperatures as low as freezing.
It is easy for your pet to pick up a flea, but it is extremely hard to get rid of a flea infestation once it’s in your home. Give us a call at Fox Pest Control. We are the experts in controlling pests in your home and yard. Reach out to our professional team to discuss the treatment options for your home and property. To get started, contact us today!
*Call us today before 2 p.m. (Monday-Friday) for a same day, zero-obligation inspection and estimate or to provide Long Island pest control & extermination services near you.