There are so many different parasites in the world that love to prey on animals and humans alike. It’s easy to get some of these parasites mixed up. Some of the most common household parasites are bed bugs, fleas, and ticks. Fleas and ticks can quickl on your pets. The two have the same purpose. They eat to live and live to breed. Ticks and fleas both feed on the blood of other animals and humans.
Though the two have a very similar purpose, there is a significant difference between them. Below I’m going to explain the difference between the two and how you can get rid of each of them.
Type of Parasite: Arachnid
Size: Can be as small as a poppy seed when first feeding
Lifespan: A few weeks to 3 years
Time on Host: Spends most of life off host waiting for one to walk by
Climate: Can survive near freezing temperatures
Ticks are not actually insects but are considered to be an arachnid as they have eight legs, like a spider. It’s bigger than a flea measuring ¼ to 1/8 inches. Unlike fleas, they don’t mind moving between animals as they can’t spend too much time on the same host. In fact, they depend on various hosts of different species for nutrition.
Ticks can be found on snakes, lizards and humans and have a lifespan anywhere from three weeks to three years. They climb on the ends of leaves, shrubs and plants and wait for a host to pass by wherein they attach themselves onto the host.
They then travel over the body to find an appropriate place to feed like the body’s shaded areas like ears, hair and inside of arms. They feed by inserting their pincers into the host and excreting an anticoagulant which prevents blood clogging. They cannot jump or fly and only crawl to reach anywhere they want.
Unlike fleas, they fall off the host to lay thousands of eggs at one time after which they die. They are happiest in cold temperatures and thus are happy in winter climates. They are dangerous as they don’t spend their lives attached to one host and thus spread germs and diseases from one host to another. The spread around various diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Removing a tick involves removing all its body parts and preventing it from releasing saliva or regurgitating its stomach contents onto your bite wound. It’s best to use a tick removal tool which helps grip the tick’s head without squashing its body.
You can also use pointed tweezers to grasp the tick close to its skin without squeezing its body and then pull the tick out without twisting. Even a cotton thread or dental floss can be used if there’s no tools around. Tie the thread in a single loop around the tick’s mouthparts near its skin, and pull upwards and outwards without twisting.
Start by cleansing the tweezers or tool with antiseptic. Then cleanse the bite site and tool with an antiseptic after tick removal. Thoroughly wash your hands after removing the tick.
Make sure you don’t squeeze the tick’s body as it gets separated from the body to leave the head embedded in your skin. Also do not use your fingernails to remove a tick as infections can enter any skin breaks, like near the fingernail.
Never crush the tick’s body as the tick may vomit all the infected contents in its stomach onto the bite wound. It is also no use trying to burn the tick or applying things like nail polish or petroleum jelly as they only cause discomfort to the tick. This leads to regurgitation or saliva release.
The tick can be disposed by first crushing it and then putting it down the toilet or by folding it onto a strip of sticky tape and placing in the waste. However be careful as engorged ticks may contain infected blood which can splatter when crushed.
Check out the video below to watch the proper tick removal method!
Fleas are wingless insects which live and feed on human, cat, dog and other animals’ blood. They are flat and dark-colored with tube-like mouth parts to feed on the host’s blood. Measuring 1/6 to 1/8 inches in length, these fleas are difficult to spot. They however can leap to great heights and lengths as their legs are well adapted for jumping.
They have a lifespan of about 100 days so once they find a body, they remain there till they die. They then lay about 20 to 40 eggs a day for several weeks and these eggs end up everywhere as your dog sheds hair. So all it takes is one flea to start an epidemic in a house. And they can carry bartonellosis and tapeworm when they land on their host.
Fleas prefer heat to cold and is why they prefer spending time indoors. Fleas leave a series of bites resulting in a slightly raised and swollen itching spot with a central puncture point similar to a mosquito bite.
Size: 1.5 to 3.2 millimeters
Lifespan: 2-3 months
Time on Host: Fleas will stay on their host until they get a blood meal.
Climate: 46.4 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit
Possible Diseases: cat-scratch fever, typhus, bubonic plague, bartonellosis, tapeworm
There are so many different ways to remove fleas from your home and to keep them off your pets. Below I’m going to list a few of my favorite methods. If you would like to know more about treating flea infestations your can read more here or check out some of the links below!
Flea Drops- Fleas drops are the best way to keep fleas off your cats and dogs. Flea drops use an application that lasts anywhere from 3 weeks to 7 weeks depending on the brand you buy. The flea drops begin working within 24 hours of the first application. If any fleas come in contact with the area the application was placed they will die. The fleas will also die if they bite into your pets fur. You can buy flea drops here.
Steam Cleaning- The temperature of steamers and the amount of water put out combined is enough to easily kill fleas. You need to make sure that the temperature of the steamer is hot enough to kill the fleas though. Read my article on steam cleaning fleas here!
Flea Traps- You can place these anywhere in your home and they will passively kill fleas while you sleep. The traps use a warm light and a sticky substance designed to trap any fleas that land in it. Fleas are attracted to warmth so when you turn the light on they instinctively move towards it causing them to get stuck. If you don’t want to buy a flea trap you can make your own trap. If you want to know how to make your own trap you can find out how to here.
Diatomaceous Earth- This is a fine white powder made from the fossils of microscopic aquatic organisms called diatoms. When inhaled by fleas it absorbs oils causing there bodies to dry out killing them. I highly recommend using Diatomaceous earth. When it has sat in your carpet for a long period of time you can simply vacuum it up! You can buy Diatomaceous Earth here!
Flea Shampoo- This is exactly what it sounds like. Flea shampoo is a shampoo designed to kill any fleas hiding in your pets fur. Its easy to use and last for a few weeks. You can buy flea shampoo here or check out my flea shampoo article here.