Approximately one-third of Minnesota’s households have a canine in residence, is yours one of these dog-friendly homes? If it is, your veterinarian probably warned you about your dog’s least favorite friend… Fleas.
But your pup shouldn’t be the only one in the house dreading these invaders. The entire family can be affected. Let’s take a closer look at fleas, and see how they compare to similar bugs, like mosquitoes, ticks, and bed bugs.
What are fleas?
Fleas are tiny, non-flying insects. They’re often not any more substantial than the tip of a pen. They are generally brown or black.
Much like bed bugs, ticks, and mosquitoes, fleas feed on blood. They often invade your home or business via a pet or rodent, and they don’t like to stay on furry animals. They can also feed on humans.
In comparing these “blood-sucking” bugs, we can look at their physical attributes to set them apart. Mosquitoes are the only insects in this group of “biters” that fly, so they’re the only ones with wings.
Fleas are generally flat with a tough shell. The shells are so hard that you may need to smash them between two fingernails or hard surfaces to squish. Bed bugs are generally reddish-brown in color and more round. Ticks come in a variety of shapes and colors but are usually flat until they fill as they feed.
Flea bites are often found in groupings on the skin. They appear as small, red, raised bites. You may also see a halo around the bumps.
These bites will look much the same on your dog as they do on your skin, but they can be tougher to see on your dog because of the hair. A quick comb through your dog’s hair will give you a better look if there are fleas.
Since fleas don’t fly, they get from place to place, or more accurately from body to body, by jumping. If an infestation in your home or business gets terrible enough, you may even see fleas jumping on furniture or the carpet!
Before it gets that bad, though, reach out to Environmental Pest Management for a free quote today to get rid of these pests.
If a flea bites you, can you catch any diseases?
While flea bites are red and very itchy, catching a disease from a flea bite is very unlikely. However, bacteria can become a source of infection in and around the bite itself.
The best way to prevent these types of infections is to not scratch at the bites. Of course, that’s easier said than done since the bites can get very, very itchy.
If you have flea bites, the best thing to do is wash the area with cool water and soap. Hot water can aggravate the itchiness. If you are very itchy or think you may be allergic, you can take a dose of Benadryl to help.
If it’s been a few days and your bites aren’t healing or are getting worse, the best thing to do would be to see a doctor, as you may have a bacterial infection in the area and need antibiotics.
Are fleas a big problem in the Minneapolis area?
Statistically, your dog will probably have fleas at least once while they’re in your home.
Your dog may pick up fleas from other animals, from pet facilities, or the outdoors. Fleas are most prevalent in wooded or tall grass areas, but could be found anywhere – even in your backyard!
While fleas can be found year-round, they are most common during warmer months. Here in Minnesota, fleas are generally the most active April through November.
Tell-tale signs of fleas on your dog or in your home or business include:
- Little dots, like spots of pepper, on your dog’s skin. These are flea droppings.
- Bites on your dog’s skin or your own, usually in groupings. These will be VERY itchy.
- Black or brown “spots” on socks when you walk across the floor in your home or business. If you look closer, you’ll see these spots are fleas.
Can you prevent fleas?
There are a few things you can do to prevent a flea infestation in your home or business:
- Keep your lawn mowed to prevent taller grass and more breeding grounds for these little insects to hop onto your dog.
- Talk to your veterinarian about a flea collar or topical flea treatment that s/he recommends for your dog type.
If you suspect your dog has fleas or have already found some in your dog’s hair:
- Vacuum your home or office thoroughly – including the upholstered items.
- Steam-clean carpets, rugs, and any upholstery that you can.
- Wash your pet with soap and water.
While these steps will help contain an infestation once you’ve found fleas, they are practically impossible to get rid of without pesticide treatment. However, treating a home or business isn’t something that one should tackle on their own.
Which is worse – Bed bugs vs. fleas? Mosquitoes vs. fleas?
Both bed bug bites and flea bites display as a cluster of small dots on your skin. Mosquito bites are generally larger and usually aren’t clustered together.
Those clustered bites aren’t often found in the same spots on your body, either.
On humans, bed bugs often bite on the top half of the body, whereas fleas usually feast on the bottom half of the body.
You have proof of an invasion; now what?
Fleas are very tough to get rid of and can multiply very quickly. It’s close to impossible to get rid of an infestation without pesticides. You would do best to call the professionals instead of trying to take this on yourself.
If you’re in the greater Twin Cities area and you’ve been noticing these clustered bites on your dog’s skin or your own, reach out to Environmental Pest Management for a free quote. End the cycle of itching and irritation for you and your pet.