In southern states like Tennessee and Mississippi, we get to enjoy warm weather most of the year. Unfortunately, that tradeoff means we must contend with annoying pests year-round. Two of the biggest culprits and fleas and ticks. These critters can harm our children, ourselves, and our pets. With spring’s arrival, now’s a good time to learn how to identify these bugs and what you can do to stop them from biting.
How To Identify Fleas
Fleas and ticks are tiny creatures and hard to spot until they’ve clung to you. Fleas are reddish-brown, wingless, with narrow bodies no bigger than 1/6 of an inch long. Fleas prefer the blood of your pets rather than humans. But fleas pose a much bigger risk when they get into your home than ticks do. Unlike ticks, which cling to their host, fleas are mobile and can easily roam looking for new hosts. Once a female flea is brought into your home, she can lay up to fifty eggs a day for up to six months, which can land in your carpet and furniture upholstery. Fleas can cause allergies, tapeworms, and Murine typhus. And while flea bites on humans aren’t as problematic as tick bites, it is no less annoying or upsetting.
How To Remove Fleas
Wash your pet with a flea-removing soap from a pet supply store, or you can use dishwashing soap. Note: do not use detergent meant for dishwashers. The soapy water will remove the fleas and make them unable to hop out of the water, so they will essentially drown. This method is ideal if your pet has a bad infestation. Fleas and eggs can also be removed using a very fine tooth flea comb.
How To Identify Ticks
Lone Star Ticks
Ticks that are black or brown with a white spot are members of the Lone Star species. As you may have guessed, the white spot is what gives these insects their name. The bites from these females are not only annoying, but they can also cause you to have an allergic reaction to red meat.
Also known as Deer ticks, these annoying critters are active even in winter, so long as the temperature is above freezing, as it often is in our region. And unlike other species, where only the adults can bite, all stages of the black-legged tick life cycle can bite humans. Interestingly, Deer ticks are the only tick that can carry Lyme disease. However, they can also carry babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis. The nymphs are brown and about the size of poppy seeds. Adult female deer ticks are red and black. Males are black. Adult deer ticks are about the size of a sesame seed. Consequently, their tiny size and coloring make them difficult to spot.
American Dog Ticks
These ticks can potentially carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Dog ticks are reddish-brown and are larger than deer ticks.
This is not actually a tick species. Ticks that are white in color are actually engorged ticks, meaning they are full of their host’s blood. They may appear lighter in color, and many people mistake them for a separate species.
How To Remove Ticks
Ticks are trickier to remove than fleas because you must follow a precise procedure. Otherwise, you could cause the tick to essentially vomit into the open bite and potentially expose you to diseases. The first step is remembering to keep calm and not panic if you discover a tick on yourself or your pet. 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 so 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 mentioned earlier. 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.
Flea And Tick Prevention
There are several things you can do to discourage fleas and ticks from nesting in your yard.
Keep The Grass Cut
Mowing your lawn regularly and maintaining a uniform height will not only discourage fleas and ticks from hiding in the shade of the grass it will also encourage the overall health of the lawn.
Keep Shade Controlled
There’s nothing wrong with having some trees for shade, but if your yard is especially shady, fleas and ticks may be nesting there since they don’t like direct sun. Consider trimming back some tree branches so a bit more light can penetrate.
Fence Off Hotspots
You might not enjoy crawling under your porch, but your dog sure does. Fence off areas like the undersides of porches and decks, so your furry friends don’t bring pests inside. If you have wooded areas next to your property, consider placing structures like playscapes, benches, gazebos, or sheds away from the forest area. Fleas and ticks can hide in playscapes just as easily as they can tall grass or the brush on the forest floor.
Get Professional Flea And Tick Control
The most effective and convenient method of pest control is a flea and tick control application. It will kill any current insects and prevent future infestations by interrupting the flea and tick life cycle. This is the only way to guarantee your family is safe.
Keep Fleas And Ticks Out Of Your Life – Call Green Keeper
If you seek pest control in north Mississippi or West Tennessee, look no further. The licensed experts at Green Keeper are here to help! We are well-versed in controlling insects like fleas and ticks with yard spray. Take back control of your yard today! Call 662-895-2088 (Mississippi customers) or 901-861-2338 (Tennessee customers). You can also leave us a message on our website as well. Curious about other lawn care topics? Check out our monthly blog! Like our Facebook page to check out the latest service offerings and deals.