Background Information – Fleas and Ticks
There are over 80 species of fleas in Colorado, with the most common being the human flea. Even though the name implies that of humans, this flea is commonly found on other mammals including foxes, skunks, and rabbits. The dry climate in Colorado is difficult on fleas (especially immature life stages) that require humidity to thrive. Most of the calls regarding fleas that we see are found coming from either a skunk, fox, coyote, or rabbit den. We also see fleas around prairie dog towns, but this is usually a different species of flea. Most fleas are very small, 1/13 to 1/18 of an inch, dark reddish-brown, and feed on blood. They are most notable for their ability to transmit the plague, which is a potentially life-threatening disease. The most common tick we see in Colorado is the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. They are a blood-feeding parasite that most commonly bites people and dogs in early spring. The ticks are oval-shaped, with flattened bodies that are brownish in color or greyish when fully engorged with blood. They are 1/8 inches unengorged and 5/8 inches fully engorged. They are most notable for transmitting Colorado Tick fever, or Rocky Mountain Tick fever, but that is less common.
Both fleas and ticks fall into a public health category when it comes to pest control because they can transmit diseases and this type of service requires different licenses from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which we have.
Treatments for Fleas and Ticks
The NOCO Pest and Wildlife Control service will begin with proper identification and location of the harborage areas. These two pests can be difficult to spot because the source of the infestation might not be on your property. If your cats or dog have fleas, you need to take them to a vet for treatment. As for the house or business, fleas are most commonly found associated with an animal den. The location of this den is key to the eradication of a flea infestation. This will include removal of the animal from the burrow, dust treatment with an insecticide and exclusion of the site to prevent future infestations. On the interior of the home, we will place insect monitors to monitor activity and perform a detailed crack and crevice throughout the area to prevent the spread of the fleas. The service comes with a follow-up visit in 10-14 days to check on activity and to re-treat if necessary. Ticks are even harder to treat because they are found in vegetation, not in the home or business. Therefore, the best solution is habitat modification, including removal of brush piles, thinning of thick vegetation, and mowing of high grasses, and weeds. In addition, an external insecticide can be applied on the perimeter of the home at the foundation, and a mist blower can be used to treat the turf-grass and thick areas of vegetation. Again, a follow-up is included in 10-14 days to check on activity levels and to re-treat if necessary. If you get a bite or have an embedded tick, you need to seek the advice of a medical professional.
All flea services come with a 30-day guarantee unless noted otherwise by the service technician. Most infestations go away after treatment within 1-2 weeks, assuming the dogs and cats have been treated by the vet and the animal burrows/dens have been eliminated and treated. A behavioral change might need to take place and limit your pet’s ability to go around animal denning sites like prairie dog burrows. Tick services are a reduction type scenario and all we can do is discourage their activity. Plus, they are generally seasonal, and behavioral changes might need to occur in addition. Understand that during the spring, ticks are present, so limit hiking off trails, and do not allow your dogs or other pets to do so without inspecting them before bringing them back into the house. Use a repellent containing DEET when working or hiking outdoors to limit your exposure.