Fleas & Ticks
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Common Types of Biting Insects in Missouri
Fleas are blood-sucking ectoparasites of humans and domestic animals all over the world. More than 2,200 species of fleas have been identified worldwide, but only about 30 species are found in Missouri. Humans are affected by few of these species. The most common species in Missouri is the cat flea but we also occasionally encounter the dog flea the human flea and the oriental rat flea. An understanding of flea control is important because of their worldwide distribution, abundance, irritating bite and ability to transmit diseases.
Ticks are close relatives of mites, spiders and scorpions. Immature and adult ticks are most likely to be encountered in wooded or brushy areas where their hosts are most abundant, but they can also be found in lawns if their hosts are present there. The larvae and nymphs often feed on smaller animals and birds. Some nymphs and adults typically feed on larger animals, including humans and their companion animals. The two most frequently encountered ticks in Missouri are the lone star tick and the American dog tick. Another species, the brown dog tick may also be common on domestic dogs. The brown dog tick only feeds on dogs, but may be brought into homes with dogs and become an indoor pest. Many other species of ticks can be found in Missouri, but they come into contact with people less frequently.
Once rare in American homes, bedbugs have been on the rise over the last decade. Holiday travel gives these bloodsuckers an opportunity to hitch a ride. Bedbugs come out at night to feed. During the day, their hiding places might include your favorite comfortable spots—your recliner, couch and bed. Temperatures 70 degrees and higher provide the best conditions for bedbugs to lay eggs for quick hatching. Bedbugs are patient. They survive in vacant buildings and can live up to one year without feeding.
Mosquitoes are small, aquatic flies that belong to the family Culicidae . Only adult female mosquitoes take a blood meal. The blood is needed for egg development. Mosquito species vary in the types of blood they prefer, but most species prefer warmblooded animals. Most of the rest feed on cold-blooded animals, but a few do not take blood at all. Females of these species feed on plant juices and nectar. Plant juices are also the food for males of all species. A few bloodsucking species are active during daylight hours, but the majority of the species that prefer human blood are most active at twilight or just after dark. Mosquitoes develop in slow-moving or stagnant water. Places where mosquitoes grow and develop are commonly referred to as "breeding sites." The type of breeding site varies by species, but some of the most common include flood waters, woodland pools, edges of slow-moving streams, ditches, marshes and around the edges of lakes. Mosquitoes may also develop in tree cavities, rain barrels, fishponds, birdbaths, wading pools, old tires, tin cans, clogged gutters and catch basins — in other words, anything that holds even small amounts of water for a few days.
Tiny, about 1/6″ in length; reddish brown and flattened.
Fleas live on the bodies of animals and feed on their blood. Because fleas usually feed and lay their eggs while an animal is sleeping, your pet’s resting area is where the most fleas will be found. Pets get fleas from being outside in the yard. The cat flea will attack both cats and dogs. Its flat shape allows it to pass easily between animal hairs. Larvae feed on organic debris, particularly the feces of adult fleas, which contain undigested blood. Females need to feed on animal blood in order to produce eggs.
Before a blood meal the lone star tick is reddish-brown in color and about 1/6th-1/4 of an inch in length. After they feed and become engorged they turn and a slate-gray color and are about ½ an inch in length.Found throughout Missouri.
Adult ticks often bite larger animals, including foxes, dogs, white-tailed deer and people. They are often introduced onto residential properties by wild animals. Ticks are typically found living in areas of shad, along wooded areas, and amongst low-growing vegetation. Once on your property ticks will hide out in these shaded dark areas.
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that are rising in number. They've made a strong comeback after nearly 50 years of limited activity in the United States. Adult bed bugs have a distinct reddish-brown color and have flat, oval-shaped bodies about 1/4 inch in length. In a protected area, an adult female will lay up to five eggs in one day. Bed bugs feed only on blood, preferring human blood, but will also feed on other warm-blooded animals if necessary.
Mosquitoes are small, aquatic flies that belong to the family . Only adult female mosquitoes take a blood meal. The blood is needed for egg development. Mosquito species vary in the types of blood they prefer, but most species prefer warmblooded animals. Most of the rest feed on cold-blooded animals, but a few do not take blood at all. Females of these species feed on plant juices and nectar. Plant juices are also the food for males of all species. A few bloodsucking species are active during daylight hours, the majority of the species that prefer human blood are most active at twilight or just after dark.
Getting Rid of Biting Insects
To prevent bites and to make your property less attractive to these parasitic pests, we recommend the following prevention tips.
Remove overgrowth from your yard
Keep your lawn well-manicured
Eliminate anything that attracts wildlife including bird feeders
Stay in the middle of paths when hiking or walking on trails
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time in the woods
Inspect your family and pets after spending time outdoors.
Check frequently for standing water and flush bird baths and rain barrels. Maintain gutters
Prior to a professional flea treatment inside your home, items need to be removed from the floors and clutter needs to be reduced to eliminate potential harborage areas for fleas to hide. Running a vacuum over as many floor surfaces as possible will “activate” any eggs that are lying dormant, making the treatment more effective. Carefully discarding the vacuum bag after use will prevent captured fleas from spreading throughout the house. Wash and dry on high heat, or replace pet bedding. We advise NOT to use flea bombs or over-the-counter fumigant cans to treat for fleas yourself as this can actually make them spread worse and could potentially be a hazard to your health.
To control fleas in the yard, check out the service we provide for mosquitoes. It’ll help reduce fleas as well!
Treating your yard is an effective way to reduce tick activity. You should also evaluate wildlife activity on your property or even in your home and take any necessary steps to correct the problem. For more information about tick control or for help on how to stop rodents and other wild animals from introducing ticks
To control ticks in the yard, check out the service we provide for mosquitoes. It’ll help reduce ticks as well!
Bed bugs were a problem decades ago when DDT was underneath everyone’s household kitchen sink. This many years later, bed bugs have made a comeback. They are much more resilient due to adaptation to the overuse of such chemicals, but also because the types of pest control products available today are not as deadly and much more conscious of our health concerns.
Bed bugs are effectively controlled today with the right partnership and intelligent strategies. Various methods, such as Thermal Remediation, in conjunction with conventional products and cautious monitoring are very successful when done right. Bed bugs are NOT a DIY pest and if you think you might have them, contacting a professional sooner rather than later for expert bed bug solutions will help gain control of a problem quicker.
Use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin whenever or wherever mosquitoes are likely to bite. To eliminate or reduce mosquito breeding sites, replace or freshen all standing water daily. This includes bird baths, ponds and unfiltered pools. Remove unnecessary vegetation and any trash from around standing water sources that cannot be eliminated. Make sure screens are in place on all doors, windows and other openings. Keep your pets protected, too, with preventative medication obtained by your veterinarian.
Check out the service we provide for mosquitoes.