Fall might be closing in, and we may be experiencing cooler temperatures and shorter days in Minnesota, but don’t let that fool you. The wrath of fleas and ticks is still prevalent. These annoying disease-ridden pests are still around and waiting for their next victim, be it you or your pet. Learn everything there is to know about these blood-thirsty parasites, how you can help prevent them and what you can do if you find yourself plagued with them.
How to Identify Fleas and Ticks
The first step in learning about fleas and ticks is knowing what they look like and how to identify them.
Both fleas and ticks are tiny creatures and hard to see unless you get one on you. Fleas are reddish-brown, wingless, with hard, narrow bodies no bigger than 1/6 of an inch long. They are thin and flat with hair and have six long legs. Their flat bodies allow easy movement while the hair enables them to cling to their host, primarily your beloved fur animals. They are also able to jump long distances and have mouthparts designed to suck out blood.
The three types of ticks that people come across in Minnesota are the blacklegged tick (aka deer tick), the American dog tick (aka wood tick), and the lone star tick. It is the black-legged tick that causes most of the diseases here in the North Star State.
These ticks are flat and oval in appearance with no wings. They come in a variety of colors, including grayish-white, brown, black, reddish-brown, or yellow. Adult ticks have eight legs, but tick larvae have six. Once they become an adult, they are approximately the size of a pencil eraser. Ticks are capable of biting at all four of their active life stages: egg, larval, nymph, and adult.
Where Do Fleas and Ticks Hide in Minnesota?
They say that the key is knowing, and in this case, that is true. Ticks and fleas thrive in many climates but prefer moist, humid, and shady areas. They love to live in woodpiles, tall grass, and shaded areas of your yard. This can be under trees, in bushes, hedgerows, tall grass, and under decks and porches. Anytime you are outside in a woodsy area, wetlands, or a field, it is suggested that you check for ticks as soon as you get home.
Why Are Fleas and Ticks Dangerous?
Dangers of Ticks
When a tick latches on, it spits out a local anesthetic, so the victim rarely knows they’ve been bitten, making this dangerous for both you and your pets. By now everyone is familiar with Lyme disease. In humans, symptoms of Lyme disease often mimic the flu. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to problems with your brain and nervous system, heart issues, and cause memory or brain fog.
In dogs, if it is left untreated, symptoms can progress to kidney failure, and severe cardiac and neurological effects can occur. Ticks also carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and several other lesser-known diseases.
Danger of Fleas
Flea fecal matter and saliva can cause allergic reactions in both animals and humans called flea allergic dermatitis. Some animals are more sensitive than others, and for some, flea bites can lead to severe itching, irritation, and scratching. It can even cause major infections in some pets. If enough fleas infest a host, the host animal can lose enough blood and become anemic.
Fleas also carry tapeworms which can be contracted after the accidental ingestion of a flea. They also play a role in the spread of typhus, plague, and bartonellosis.
Tips on How to Keep Your Minnesota Yard Safe From Fleas and Ticks
Keep Grass Short
Since fleas and ticks hide out in tall turf, cut down any tall grass in your yard, especially if children and pets play in it. By doing so, you are eliminating a desirable shady area that fleas and ticks prefer, forcing them to move out and go elsewhere.
Trim Trees and Shrubs
Keep trees and shrubs trimmed and away from the outside of your home. When they are too close, fleas and ticks, and other insects can use them as bridges to enter your home.
For Fleas Specifically, Keep the Yard Clean
A clean, clear yard is an effective way of preventing fleas. This includes keeping the grass cut, the trees and shrubs trimmed, and the landscape beds clean. In doing these things, you eliminate hiding places for fleas, which will drive them away from your lawn.
You will also want to keep your yard clean and clear of anything that will bring other flea-carrying critters anywhere near your home (raccoons, deer, feral cats, etc.) This includes keeping the trash in bags and cans, leaving the grill covered, and never leaving any loose food sources out.
Invest in Flea and Tick Control With the Professionals at Showcase Lawn Care
Once ticks and fleas get into your home, they can be extremely challenging to get rid of. That’s where the experts at Showcase Lawn Care step in. We can prevent these pests from gaining entry into your home with our flea and tick control service. With our flea and tick control, we can eradicate fleas and stop larvae and pupae before they have a chance to reach adulthood and reproduce further.