#5 FLEAS & TICKS
The cat flea, by far is the most common flea in the United States. Besides feasting on cats, the cat flea also is known to infest dogs, humans, mammals and avian hosts. Fleas use mammals for transportation, and usually remain on their hosts at all times. Fleas cannot fly. They jump from one place to another. In fact, fleas can jump as high as 8” vertically, which is 150 times their own height.
- Fleas are parasites that feed on blood.
- The saliva of fleas is irritating and allergenic.
- Fleas thrive in warm, moist environments and climates.
- Without a blood meal, a flea can live more than 100 days. On average, they live two to three months.
- Female fleas cannot lay eggs until after their first blood meal and begin to lay eggs within 36-48 hours after that meal.
- Fleas have four main stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
There are approximately 200 tick species in the United States. Ticks are sensitive to motion, body heat and carbon dioxide (which is exhaled by mammals). They hide out in tall grasses and shrubs waiting for a good host to approach. Once on the host, the tick finds a place to attach its mouthparts. The tick drinks the host’s blood until it becomes engorged. It is during this time that dangerous pathogens can enter the host’s bloodstream.
The following types of ticks are among the most common seen in North America:
- Deer tick
- Lone star tick
- Brown dog tick
- American dog tick
Blacklegged ticks (Deer Ticks) get their name because they have coloring similar to deer.
- Blacklegged ticks prefer to hide in grass and shrubs.
- Blacklegged ticks feed on the blood of white-tailed deer, which is one of the reasons why they are sometimes called deer ticks.
- Blacklegged ticks can carry the bacteria which causes Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The symptoms of most tick-borne diseases include fever and lethargy.
- Ticks can live as long as 200 days without food or water.
They have been known to live from 2 months to 2 years, depending on the species.