From pest control companies, you often hear the expression “fleas and ticks” as if the two terms are virtually interchangeable.
Despite this, these two little insects are seen in totally distinct ways and may induce diverse diseases. You’ll need to understand how ticks and fleas differ in order to determine if your house is now also home to ticks.
Ticks vs. Fleas
- Ticks have eight legs and belong to the arachnid family. Fleas have six legs and are categorized as insects.
- Ticks are roughly 2/5 inch long, while fleas are approximately 1/10 inch long.
- Ticks prefer to wait for their prey rather than sharing fleas’ remarkable leaping ability.
Soft-shell and hard-shell ticks are the two most common types of ticks in the tick family. For the purpose of protecting your home, it’s helpful to be aware of both.
The aggressive tendencies of the soft-shell variety are not seen. These ticks feed in brief sessions at night (typically less than an hour), and prefer to stay attached to a single host. Soft-shell ticks, in reality, feed and reproduce similar to bed bugs and are limited in their mobility.
Hard-shell ticks go from host to host in search of a longer, more satisfying meal that can last up to a week. They accomplish it by using a technique known as “questing,” which is similar to that used by web-building spider spiders. Hard-shell ticks will latch onto a passing host with their front legs extended in the air until prey comes. Ticks don’t jump or fly; they simply wait for a new host to arise in this manner.
Did You Know?
Ticks have the ability to sense danger. Breath, body odor, heat, moisture, and vibrations are all detectable by them. In order to find the best location to wait for an approaching host, hard-shell ticks use these abilities.
Hard-shell ticks, sometimes known as “three host ticks” since they need a bloodmeal for each of their three life stages, pose the greatest danger to your home. The life cycle of a tick can be long, from 90 days to three years. The creatures we’ll cover are all diurnal, which means they actively seek out a host during the day.
American Dog Tick (“Wood Tick”)
This species prefers to infect dogs in their adult stage. As a secondary option, humans are fed. Despite this, the American dog tick may transmit serious diseases.
How To Identify:
- When empty, 5 mm long; when full with a bloodmeal, 15 mm long
- Reddish-brown color
- East of the Rocky Mountains, this is the most common variety.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia are both carried by this bug.
- Throughout the spring and summer, adult females are most likely to bite humans.
- During the autumn and winter, he was inactivated.
- DIY techniques may be used to remove it.
Blacklegged Tick (“Deer Tick”)
Blacklegged ticks attach themselves to white-tailed deer in the forests of northern United States. These insects are most active between October and May, and adult females may be aggressive during this time.
How To Identify:
- Unfed (up to 10 mm after feeding) and dark brown or black in color, 3 mm in length
- The eyes of this species are absent.
- In the northeastern and upper midwestern United States, it is most common.
- Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis are all transmitted by this tick.
- Anytime temperatures are above freezing, nymphs and adult females may bite humans.
- It is possible to remove it yourself through a variety of methods.
Brown Dog Tick
This species is one of the most common in the world, and it is often found in and around homes, kennels, and animal pens. Homeowners and pet owners should be on the lookout for the brown dog tick, which spends its whole life cycle indoors and is widespread in homes.
How To Identify:
- Unfed (12 mm after feeding) 3 mm in length
- Brown in color
- Dogs may catch Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but people are very rare.
- Can go for more than a year without eating.
- Professional assistance may be the wiser choice when it comes to DIY treatment options.
Gulf Coast Tick
This species will be attracted to a variety of potential hosts, including birds, rodents, livestock, and people.
How To Identify:
- Unfed, the 6 mm length.
- Reddish-brown with light streaks and spots
- The Gulf Coast and Atlantic coasts are home to this species.
- May transmit several forms of a tick-borne illness.
- It is possible to remove it using home methods.
Lone Star Tick
This pest is not native to Texas, despite its name. Rather, it has a single, highly apparent white patch on its back, which stands out against the rest of its brown coloration. Unfortunately, this is one of the most dangerous tick species when it comes to dogs, deer, livestock, and people. In woodlands and grassy regions, lone Star ticks are most active in the spring and summer.
How To Identify:
- Unfed, it is 3 mm long.
- From Texas to the eastern and southern United States,
- Illness can be passed on to others through the air.
- Nymphs and adult females are aggressive, seeking human hosts.
- Throughout the autumn and winter, they’re usually dormant.
- The DIY approach may be used to eliminate it.
Step 1. Check Your Clothing and Shower After Outdoor Activity
Clothing should be spot-checked for ticks as soon as possible. For 10-15 minutes on high heat, put your items in the dryer to kill all ticks. Wash your clothes in hot water to get rid of the insects if they need it.
Step 2. Do a Self-check of Your Skin
If you think ticks are attached, use a mirror to check the parts of your and your kid’s bodies. The following locations should be checked:
- The ears are surrounded by and inside of them
- Around the waist and inside the belly button
- Between the knees and between the legs
Use a pair of tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as feasible and then pull it completely off your body. Watch for signs of rash or fever over the following days. If you feel that something is wrong, speak with your doctor.
Step 3. Control Your Yard
Ticks may be discouraged from establishing a colony on your property by two easy steps. Remove leaf litter and tall grasses from your property first before bagging it up. Second, establish a buffer zone between your property and forested areas by disseminating gravel or wood chips between them.
Step 4. Protect Your Pets
To protect your pets from becoming ticks hosts, give them tick collars, oral medicines, or sprays.
Weather and Ticks
- Lyme disease is one of the most serious tick-borne illnesses for humans throughout the spring and summer. The greatest activity for ticks happens in late spring and early summer, which is when the illness spreads fastest. Shorts and thinner tops are common summertime outerwear, making the human body an easy target.
- Summer: Ticks are hardy and clever insects that can survive the winter. This is the time of year when certain species go dormant. Others remain attached to a host and go adventuring throughout the winter. Since the temperature stays above freezing, blacklegged ticks are particularly hardy and persistent. Others will seek out insulation from the cold by gathering trash, a mound of leaves, or whatever else they can find.
It may be difficult to identify the species even if you’ve seen a tick near or in your home. Call your local cooperative extension office if you can capture the tick. They may assist you figure out what species you are and how to treat it.
Ticks are troublesome insects that can harm both people and animals. Lyme disease is particularly dangerous for people because it can be difficult to diagnose at first, and the symptoms are severe: joint pain, brain difficulties, and chronic exhaustion. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, and ehrlichiosis (a flulike illness) are some of the other tick-borne illnesses. Your two- and four-legged family members may be spared from discomfort and illness by using an integrated approach to pest management.
Cleaning up Food and Waste
1. Outdoor Maintenance
Ticks wait for a ride on your clothes or the fur of your pet until they find a thicket. Keeping your yard free of ticks is much simpler than attempting to eliminate them because they burrow into your pet’s flesh and embed themselves, making them difficult to get rid of. To keep your yard tick-free, follow the following care advice. It’s a good habit to get into to take note of the fact that many of these steps will also help keep out other pests:
To discourage ticks from dwelling in your yard, trim brush and shrubs. Ticks prefer warm and shaded environments, so the more sunlight that hits your yard, the better.
When you’re out and about with your pet, keep him or her away from tick-infested wooded regions.
Short grass and frequent watering are important for maintaining it.
When necessary, rake leaves and pick up yard trash. Ticks will be hidden in leaf, stick, trash, and other materials that collect.
To discourage ticks from establishing a habitat beneath your trees and shrubs, apply mulch around them. To form a physical barrier against ticks, you can use mulch or gravel around your home’s border. For those who live near the edge of wooded regions, this is especially recommended.
Spray a tick preventative around your yard’s perimeter. Make sure you’re selecting one of the finest yard tick sprays on the market, as this is not the sorts of tick sprays that may be used on your pets and closer to your home.
If you’re going to be outside for a long period of time, try to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and change your clothes after returning inside.
Before returning inside, make sure to check yourself and your pets for ticks, particularly after spending time in heavily wooded areas. Pay close attention to your armpits, knees, groin region, and scalp; as well as your pet’s head, neck, ears, and foot. Ticks prefer warm, moist regions.
2. Indoor Cleaning Routine
It’s just as critical to keep your home clean, both inside and out, in order to avoid ticks. If you’ve discovered a tick on yourself or your pet, it’s critical that you take the following steps to ensure that others haven’t sneaked into your house via clothing or hair.
Ticks prefer warm, dry environments, so remember that. Areas of the home that may be creating this ambiance, such as around heaters throughout the winter, should be carefully monitored.
You should also check around your thresholds and windows, on the seams of your sofa, and under and behind furniture, as well as on the baseboards of your walls. Ticks are tiny enough to hide in any little, unsuspecting space. Ticks like to climb, so check the edges of your walls and molding for them with a flashlight.
After discovering a tick, vacuum right away and try to develop the habit of vacuuming at least once a week if you have carpets and rugs. After you dispose of your vacuum bag, if you believe you have a tick infestation,
To provide ticks even less of a chance to hide, eliminate any clutter from your home. Try to keep your storage spaces as clean as possible, and avoid leaving clothes and toys on the floor.
Vacuum as much as you sweep and mop. Before you have to remove a tick from a body, cleaning gives you a better chance of removing it from your house.
3. Preventative Medicine
You can also protect your pets from fleas by purchasing medicated drops, much as you would to protect yourself from ticks. The preventative drugs are offered in both over-the-counter and veterinary forms, and the majority of them are delivered in a drop or cream form. They must be applied monthly since they usually last for four to six weeks. If you give your pets medication, or if you get it from a veterinarian, always read the directions on the bottle and ask a veterinarian for advice.
Fipronil, pyrethroids, and amitraz are all active ingredients in tick-killing drugs, with fipronil being utilized as a repellent as well. If your pets go outside, use these drugs as part of a comprehensive veterinary care plan. In order to avoid the situation from deteriorating or recurring, consider using various medications that assist pets who are already infected to stop the problem from worsening or recurring; do your research first.
Manually Removing Ticks
You should use a systematic approach of checking your pet and manually removing the little creatures if you have spotted ticks around your house and know that your pet has already been affected by them. They are readily apparent and merely need your attention for a few minutes each day in order to be eliminated.
- Feel for a lump or a swollen area by rubbing your hands through their fur and over their skin.
- To separate thick fur and ensure you can see all the way down to their skin, use a comb.
- Brown, black, or tan insects with eight tiny legs are possible. Some ticks may be as small as the head of a pin, while others are the size of a Tic Tac.
- Safely remove a tick that has already attached to an animal. Nail polish or petroleum jelly are two methods that are suggested by some individuals, although they are neither effective. Instead, use tweezers to hold the tick as close to your animal’s skin as possible. Use a steady, straight motion to remove it. The tick’s head may detach from your dog’s skin if you twist or jerk it. If it is not properly removed, this may lead to infection.
- Drop a tick into a small jar of rubbing alcohol after you’ve removed it. The date you removed the tick is written on the bottle. Your veterinarian will want to check the tick to determine if it transmitted a sickness to your animal if your pet starts demonstrating any symptoms of a tick-borne illness.
- Wash your hands and the equipment you used to remove the tick after cleaning the area around the tick bite. This may avoid wound contamination and the spread of disease by preventing it.
- You might have your veterinary check for ticks at each visit you have if you’re experiencing a high number of ticks. They’ll do the same procedure as before, but with various equipment that will make the process go quicker and more efficiently.
- Tick collars and flea collars work similarly. The two kinds are available and may emit a repellant gas or continuously release medication onto your pet’s neck. They may be a good option for people who aren’t keen on taking topical drugs. A collar, on the other hand, may not be as Effective in removing ticks when you have a large pest problem. To make sure your pet is effectively repelling and eliminating ticks that reach its skin, you might utilize both a tick collar and topical medication.
- Since it won’t get your animal as wet, a tick spray may be a suitable option if your pet is afraid of baths. While compared to the sprays tailored for your lawn, the pesticides you may apply on your dog will include a variety of milder pesticides. You may utilize the topical sprays that you create yourself for indoor preventive purpose around the seams and corners inside your home, but they’ll be distinct from those made for outside preventative purpose. Before applying any sort of topical treatment to your pet, make sure you thoroughly read the product labels.
To use a tick spray:
- To discover how much you may use on your pets and when, check the label.
- Make sure to massage the medicine into your pet’s skin instead of just sitting on top of their fur, and wear gloves to apply an appropriate dosage near to them.
- As needed, re-treat your pet.
You can make your own natural tick spray if you’re using the tick spray as a preventative measure and don’t need chemical pesticides to kill ticks off. For those who are sensitive to smell, chemical tick sprays often have a strong odor, so a do-it-yourself spray might be an option.
If you don’t have the time or skills to utilize a DIY approach, investigate what other alternatives are available for the greatest tick repellents on the market.
Topical products such as Frontline and Advantage may be applied to your pets every month to repel ticks and fleas over their whole bodies, as well as killing off those that are already attached. Flea and tick collars merely repel insects from the head and neck. Make sure to follow the application instructions. These drugs may be reapplied at various time periods and have varying dosages depending on their weight. Do not administer them to dogs and cats under the age of six weeks.
- Flea or Tick Shampoo
Another option is topical flea or tick repellent shampoo. Fleas may be removed from animals and deterred from returning using these products. While these shampoos contain the active ingredients only for about two weeks, they may be a helpful addition to an arsenal of different tactics for flea and tick management.
Unfortunately,being shampooed may cause pets to be anxious, so you’ll have to estimate how often you’ll be able to use it. Give your pet a weekly or monthly bath using medicated shampoo, at least until you’re done combing and manually removing ticks, if they’ve been trained to tolerate frequent bathing.
- Indoor Pesticides
Whether you’re trying to get rid of a tick infestation or prevent one, keeping your home clean is important. However, you should be using a variety of indoor treatments. In addition to outdoor pesticides, you may employ indoor pesticides in the closets and corners of your house. You can apply a pesticide sprayer to the following areas, but these are not recommended for use directly on carpets and furniture:
- On the walls of your baseboards,
- Cracks in the windows and doors should be filled.
- Along the floors and ceilings of your rooms, install corner brackets.
- Within the crevices and nooks of walls
Any ticks may be killed off by dusting tick insecticide on carpets and rugs. Because you can vacuum up the dust once it has had enough time to be effective, this makes cleaning up simple. You won’t have to deal with any residues or strong odors because you’re using a dust instead of a spray.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural carpet solution that you may use. This product is made up of fossilized remnants, which are slightly abrasive and may rip the bones of tiny insects, and it is available online. Diatomaceous earth, which is food-grade and feels like a rough powder for both people and animals, is extremely safe for them. It’s completely non-toxic, and like insecticide dust, you can vacuum it up after use.
When To Call a Prefessional
Although these do-it-yourself techniques are cost-effective for dealing with little ant issues, they aren’t appropriate for treating multiple nests or even a single big nest.
Call a professional right away if an infestation is disrupting your daily routine and making your home unsafe or filthy.
A pest control firm may have to drill tiny holes in the wall near the floor to eliminate an ant nest in the home, which might include more than just spraying. After that, a specific applicator or plastic bottle with a nozzle may be used to apply insecticidal dust through the holes. This is particularly important for carpenter ant elimination.
Be cautious of carpenter ants, which are a wood-cutting species that frequently damage property and necessitate repair. These ants may create lengthy tunnels or galleries in wood, which may considerably weaken the load-bearing strength of your home.
Pest controllers often work on a variety of pests, but may specialize in one particular species. They are likely to be very knowledgeable about the ant species that dwell in your region, as well as pesticides and treatment protocols that are safe for kids and animals. These consultants often give free estimates to help you assess the level of the problem before committing to a paying solution.