Fleas and ticks are most active during the warmer summer months, but they can still create problems during the winter. Being in the south, Alabama has warmer weather year-round, so our flea and tick season is extended. In fact, flea and tick activity doesn’t slow down until night temperatures reach 45 degrees or below for several days. Since this isn’t as likely to happen in the Mobile region, it’s important to know how to keep fleas and ticks out of your home all year long, especially if you have pets that can inadvertently bring these critters inside.
What Do Fleas Look Like?
Fleas are harder to spot than ticks. They’re smaller and can move and jump quickly if disturbed, unlike ticks, which like to cling to one spot. Fleas are wingless insects about 1/6 of an inch long with red or brownish bodies. In nature, they are attracted to shady areas of your lawn or any other part of your yard where shade dwells. These include places like tall grass or beneath decks and porches. When your dog or cat frolics in the yard, the fleas can hitch a ride into your home. Once indoors, they will detach and quickly multiply. Surprisingly, fleas can live up to a year and produce millions of eggs. Fortunately, fleas on humans are less likely. They certainly can bite – causing allergies, tapeworms, or Murine Typhus – but they will always choose your pet as their preferred victim. The thicker fur allows them to hide better. If you notice your pet scratching more than usual, brush them with a flea comb or a fine-tooth comb, and look for flea eggs. They are tiny and white. You can also look for flea dirt, which looks like tiny pieces of topsoil left behind by flea activity.
How To Prevent And Treat For Fleas
There are several ways to prevent fleas from finding their way in. Most involve keeping your pets groomed and away from problem areas. As mentioned above, you can use a flea comb to remove eggs and adult fleas. Before you start grooming your pet, have a bowl of hot water with dish soap mixed in. When you comb out the fleas, dunk the comb into the bowl to deposit fleas and eggs. The soap will prevent them from being able to swim, and they will eventually drown. If at all possible, try to keep pets out of overgrown grass or brush areas if your yard is near the woods. Ideally, it would be best if you tried to fence off these areas so your pet can’t get to them in the first place. Lastly, make sure to clear away fallen leaves, excess grass clippings, or other organic debris like fall tree branches. Anywhere there is shade is intentionally a flea in gestation. A flea home remedy you can try is using lavender, lemongrass, citronella, and peppermint oil. Note: Some essential oil is harmful to pets. Be sure to check with your vet before spraying animals. However, you can dilute these oils with water in a spray bottle and spray down areas, like the underside of decks and porches, to discourage fleas from lurking.
How To Identify Ticks
While fleas will mostly leave humans alone, ticks have no qualms about latching on to humans. They are larger than fleas, and their colors include brown, red-brown, yellow, or black. They do not have the jumping power of fleas, however. Instead, they will cling to tall grass and wait for small animals, or humans, to brush against the blades. When this happens, they detach from the grass and will cling to their new host until satiated. The most common types of ticks in Alabama include Deer ticks, Brown dog ticks, American dog ticks, Gulf Coast ticks, and Lone star ticks. All can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other horrible health problems.
How To Tell If You Or Your Pet Has Ticks
Generally, ticks start quite small and will grow as they fill up on blood. You likely won’t feel when a tick bites since they have a numbing solution in their saliva. If your pet has spent time outside, run your hand over their ears, eyes, head, and look between the pads of their paws. This last area often goes unchecked, and it’s where many ticks will hide.
Tick Treatment And Removal
Just like with flea prevention, avoiding tall grasses or overgrown areas will prevent you and your pets from ticks. If you discover a tick on yourself or your pet, don’t panic. Removal is simple and, if done properly and calmly, you shouldn’t have to worry about health risks. You’ll need a pair of latex gloves, tweezers, a disinfectant like rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, soap, and hot water. To remove a tick, put on your gloves and position the tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight up, and the tick should come out. Do not squeeze too hard that the tick is crushed. When the tick is squished, or when people pull the body free of the head, this causes the tick to vomit their stomach contents into the wound. This vomit could carry the bacteria that causes the diseases we’ve listed above. Once the tick is removed, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and keep an eye on it for several weeks. Make sure to wash your hands with hot water and soap.
Apart from bathing your pets, keeping them away from problem areas, and maintaining a healthy lawn, you can also try a natural tick remedy. Certain essential oils, like cedar, are natural tick repellants. These natural remedies are best for humans, though. As mentioned above, always check with your veterinarian before using essential oils on pets. The ultimate flea and tick prevention, however, is a solid pest control program. Hiring a professional will allow you to spray and forget. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your yard is protected all season long.
Get Professional Flea And Tick Control From Bama Pest
The Bama Pest Control experts will help you identify problem areas, treat your yard, and prevent future infestations. Our flea and tick control program is a quick, efficient way to manage pests and protect your family. Call (251) 478-7015 or contact us online here. For more ideas on pest control and management, be sure to check out our monthly blog.