Bug Category: Biting Insects

Ticks

Summary

The deer tick or blacklegged tick (although some people reserve the latter term for Ixodes pacificus, which is found on the West Coast of the USA), and in some parts of the USA as the bear tick. It is a hard-bodied tick with dark legs (family Ixodidae) of the eastern and northern Midwestern United States.

It is a vector for several diseases of animals, including humans (Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, etc) and is known as the deer tick due to its habit of parasitizing the white-tailed deer.

Habits

These ticks like to feed on the blood of white-tailed deer, which is why they are sometimes called “deer ticks”.

Habitat

Blacklegged ticks prefer to hide in grass and shrubs.

Threats

Blacklegged (deer) ticks can spread Lyme Disease.

Prevention

When in an area where ticks are common, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light colored so ticks will be easy to detect. Tuck pants into socks. Use a tick repellent. When you return indoors, inspect clothing and skin thoroughly for ticks, including head. Wash clothes immediately.

Fleas

Summary

Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. The most common species is the cat flea, which often feasts on cats, dogs and humans.

Habits

Fleas transport themselves on rodents and other mammals. They infest both household pests and wild animals. Fleas use their powerful legs to jump as high as 8 inches vertically and 16 inches horizontally.

Habitat

Fleas usually remain on their warm-blooded hosts at all times. They can also be found on shoes, pant legs, or blankets, which can transfer the fleas to new environments. They are often found infesting opossums, raccoons, and skunks in urban settings.

Threats

Fleas are the most common transmitter of the rare Bubonic Plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Their saliva can cause serious Flea Allergy, Dermatitus in pets, and their debris has been reported to cause similar allergic reactions in humans. Fleas can also transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets. Flea bites commonly cause painful, itchy red bumps.

Prevention

Clean and vacuum frequently to help remove flea populations and prevent the laying of eggs. Keep your lawn groomed to avoid rodent habitation. Protect pets by keeping them on a leash when outside, bathing and grooming pets regularly, visiting a veterinarian annually, and using flea treatments according to direction. It is important to hire a pest professional to rid your home of rodents and fleas.

Bed Bugs

Summary

Bed bugs get their name because they like to live and feed in beds.

Habits

Bed bugs like to travel and will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They are elusive, nocturnal creatures. They can hide behind baseboards, electrical switchplates, picture frames, even wall paper. They come out at night for a blood meal.

Habitat

Bed Bugs like to hide in small cracks and crevices close to a human environment. They can be found behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and in furniture crevices.

Threats

Although bed bugs can dine on any warm-blooded animal, they primarily dine on humans. Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts.

Prevention

Vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation.
Check your bedsheets for tell-tale blood spots.
Consider bringing a large plastic trashbag to keep your suitcase in during hotel stays.
Carry a small flashlight to assist you with quick visual inspections.
Bed bugs are elusive creatures, so it is imperative to seek professional pest control to address an infestation.

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