Pest Identification – Fleas/Ticks

Northern California and Northern Nevada have a natural beauty that attracts those who love the outdoors. However, this means many people – including their families and pets – will come into contact with outdoor pests like fleas and ticks. While they may not be as dangerous as other pests in the area, it’s still important to limit your exposure to them as much as possible. The good news is that Advanced IPM has an excellent track record when it comes to dealing with flea and tick problems in the Bay Area and beyond. You can rely on us to provide you with all the information you need to protect yourself and your family from these serious pests.

Fleas and Ticks in Northern California and Northern Nevada

Fleas

Fleas are part of a subset of hematophagic, or blood-feeding, insect pests common in California and Nevada. People tend to view them as a pet-only problem, but even homes without pets can become infested by fleas if a wild animal finds its way in through an attic or basement. Over half of all dermatological conditions requiring a veterinarian are caused by flea bites.

Adult fleas are usually one-eighth to one-sixteenth of an inch long, making them difficult to spot with the naked eye. Their bodies are brownish-black and laterally flat, allowing them to crawl through hairs and carpet fibers relatively undetected. When fleas are caught, they can be tough to kill because their bodies have adapted over time to withstand great pressure – simply squeezing or smashing them is often insufficient.

Ticks

Ticks are classified as arachnids – meaning they’re in the same family as spiders. If you look closely, you can see similarities: eight legs and no antennae. As ectoparasites, ticks feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles. Depending on the species, ticks can feed anywhere from several minutes to several days. As they feed, their bodies enlarge to accommodate the amount of blood they’ve ingested. That’s why a tick that has recently burrowed into the skin will be smaller than one that has been feeding for a longer period of time.

Ticks are often thought to be found only in remote areas, but there are many different types found in Northern California and Northern Nevada. Though there are some differences, ticks generally look alike. There are hard-bodied and soft-bodied varieties, but all are very small, often resembling freckles when feeding on the skin. They can vary in color, but are usually dark or have a reddish hue. The ticks you will likely see in the area are:

  • Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
  • American Dog Tick
  • Western Black-Legged Tick
  • Brown Dog Tick

These ticks hide in brush or grass, and reach out with their legs to grasp onto their host – whether it’s you, your children, or your pets.

How to Spot a Flea Infestation

Because fleas so often infiltrate our homes through our pets, it’s a good idea to watch them closely to see if they exhibit any of the following behaviors:

  • Scratching excessively until skin is raw
  • Loss of hair and reddened skin in scratched areas
  • For dogs: Scratching or biting of hind quarters
  • For cats: Scratching around the head and neck area

If you notice any excessing scratching or biting, check your pet’s fur. Fleas may be visibly moving between hairs, or you may find evidence of reddish-black flea droppings on their skin. In any case, your pets should immediately be taken to your veterinarian for flea treatment.

Flea bites on humans are usually concentrated around the lower leg and ankles, and will appear as small, reddish bumps that itch like mosquito bites.

How to Identify a Tick Problem

Ticks, like most parasites, can transfer pathogens from one host to another. Bacteria and viruses including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, lyme disease, and babesiosis have been known to be transmitted in the Bay Area and surrounding neighborhoods. Because they often carry multiple diseases, diagnosing a tick-borne pathogen can be difficult.

Your best bet to preventing tick problems is to keep them from biting in the first place. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat while walking in tall grass or heavily wooded areas, and always check yourself and others for ticks immediately after you’re finished with outdoor activities.

Trust Advanced IPM with Your Flea and Tick Removal Needs

At Advanced IPM, we use only the most responsible, environmentally friendly pest control strategies for eliminating pests from your home or business. If you suspect you may have a flea or tick infestation, contact us immediately. Our pest control treatments are quick, effective, and customized to fit your unique situation. Don’t suffer your flea or tick bites in silence – contact us today for your free quote.