Fleas and ticks are both known as parasitical hitchhikers, meaning that they hop a free ride on the backs of say, your dogs and cats, and spread themselves into an infestation inside your home. If that sounds pretty daunting and creepy, it's because it is! Fleas are smaller, gnat-like flying insects, whereas ticks do not fly or jump. There are many species of ticks, but all ticks tend to crawl and have eight legs.
The Problems Fleas And Ticks Cause
Though usually talked about together, fleas and ticks cause different issues inside and outside of the home. Here are a few of their differences:
Fleas are one of the most common freeloaders because they enter new environments just like your home by latching onto mammals, shoes, clothing, and blankets with the greatest of ease. Once they have made it inside the home, fleas tend to hide inside furniture, beds, and carpeting, as well as hardwood floors, where they may lay their eggs. This makes it particularly difficult to spot an infestation. Fleas bite in order to feed on the blood of mammals, so they may irritate allergies in people who have preexisting allergies.
Ticks are generally divided into two categories: soft ticks and hard ticks. While soft ticks tend to feed on animals like birds, hard ticks thrive off of humans and pets, making them a greater concern for homeowners in Southern Maine. Regardless of the species or type of tick you encounter, you will want to remove any ticks from your home directly upon finding them. Generally speaking, ticks live outside but they are more than happy to enter your house and make it their new home. If spotted on a human or dog, homeowners probably already have an issue that is worth addressing.
If you do suspect a tick infestation, thoroughly clean and treat your home thoroughly. The issues ticks cause are primarily health-related, as they carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other diseases.
Ways To Lower Flea And Tick Populations
It is widely known that fleas and ticks can pose some very serious health issues to both animals and people, some of which are irreversible. Due to the seriousness of these issues, homeowners should strive to do everything that they can to keep fleas and ticks off of their property.
Fleas are attracted to wildlife like rodents, so keeping your property unappealing to such pests is a good first step. Fleas can latch onto an animal like a squirrel and, given a squirrel’s constant movement and the large areas they cover, fleas can be spread all over.
Maintaining a properly landscaped lawn is very important in minimizing animal populations and this may include: mowing the lawn regularly, and keeping shrubs and bushes trimmed.
While outside, consider wearing an insect repellent that contains an EPA-registered ingredient such as DEET or picaridin. Some people prefer a holistic approach of citronella or eucalyptus, which may prove helpful.
Also while outside, aim to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to cover as much of the skin’s surface areas as possible. And after you have spent time outside, inspect your clothing and skin for any ticks, alive or otherwise.
If you have dogs and/or cats, consider speaking with a veterinarian to determine a course of flea and tick prevention. Some options are topical while others are taken orally. This will lower the chances that your pets will bring these pests inside the home and if they are bitten, the bite will be less severe.
Ongoing professional assistance is the safest way to protect your home, property, and pets.