Fleas and ticks are horrible, annoying pests. They’re hard to get rid of, hard to live with, and just downright weird. Think about: They suck your blood, so they’re basically vampires, and when you look at them under a microscope, they look like aliens or some kind of twisted mutants. Turns out, the more research you do, the stranger they get. From amazing super powers to disgusting lifestyle habits, here’s 8 fascinating flea and tick facts you might not know.
Ticks Use Glue to Stick to You
Ever wonder why ticks are so good at sticking to their hosts? The answer is glue, or something very much like it. When a tick climbs onto a host to feed, their mouth secretes a liquid-concrete-like material called cementum. This same material helps the tick create a barbed feeding tube, making them even harder to remove. A tick’s saliva also contains a numbing agent with anti-inflammatory properties, which allows the parasite to feed unnoticed.
Fleas and Ticks Use Your Pet Like a Toilet
Fleas and ticks create a lot of waste when they eat. And because they feed on your pet’s body, guess where all that feces goes? You guessed it: Your pet. All those tiny black dots you see in your dog’s coat right around the bite site, yeah…that’s poop. Fleas produce tons of feces for their size, so much so that it’s actually the flea larvae’s primary source of food. Tick poop, while equally gross, is far more dangerous, as it can contain bacteria that spread Lyme disease.
They Can Go Months Without Eating
One of the reasons fleas and ticks are so hard to control is because they’ve evolved to be extremely durable organisms. One feature of this durability is that both parasites can survive extended periods without food. Fleas are known to go up to 100 days between blood meals (flea pupae up to a year), whereas ticks are said to be capable of going several years without feeding.
These Parasites Carry Their Own Parasites
When fleas infest your pet’s fur, they’re bringing some nasty friends along with them. Did you know a single flea can carry upwards of 150 parasitic mites? These mites transmit everything from tapeworms and bacteria to diseases such as typhus and cat scratch fever.
Fleas Are Superhero-Quality Jumpers
We all know fleas are talented jumpers, but this is ridiculous. Not only can fleas jump over 110 times their body length (which is like a human jumping over a skyscraper), but they can jump over 30,000 times without stopping for a rest—which is just insane! Craziest of all, when a flea jumps, it accelerates 20 times faster than the launch of a space shuttle!
Fleas Can Lay up to 50 Eggs a Day
While 20 is more the average, it’s not uncommon for a flea to lay 50 eggs in a single day. Just think: If a female lays 50 eggs in one day, and half those eggs are females, you could be facing over 20,000 fleas in as little as 60 days. In other words, a flea infestation can get out of hand in no time.
Fleas Can Cause Anemia
In severe cases, a flea infestation can drain so much blood from a host that anemia can occur. This happens almost exclusively in young animals, and is quite uncommon. In rare cases, blood transfusions are necessary.
Tick Bites Can Turn You Into a Vegetarian
Well, sort of. In some cases, a bite from a lone star tick can trigger an allergy to red meat in both dogs and humans. Severe Itching, hives and a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction can occur in individuals suffering from this peculiar side effect. Worst of all, no one really knows how long this tick-caused allergic reaction may last.
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What Are Ear Mites?
While there are several kinds of mites that can live in your cat or dog’s ears, “ear mites” usually refers to a specific type, Otodectes cynotis (an infestation with this mite is called “otodectic mange”). These nearly microscopic parasites can live deep inside the ear canal or on the more external portions of the ears. Their life cycle lasts approximately 4 weeks and they feed primarily on wax, oil, and skin debris. Ear mites typically cause inflammation and irritation, but significant damage to the ear and secondary infections may occur if left untreated. If your pup scratches hard enough they may also rupture blood vessels inside their ear flap, a condition known as aural hematoma. Surgery is usually required if this occurs.
How Do Pets Get Ear Mites
Ear mites are spread by contact with other animals infested with ear mites. Unfortunately, these parasites are extremely contagious, especially in younger cats and dogs. If your pet has been around other animals with ear mites, chances are they now have them, too.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Ear Mites
The following signs and symptoms are common with ear mite infestation:
- Frequent shaking of the head
- Frequent scratching near the ears, neck and head
- Unpleasant odor
- Black or red crusts on the outer ear
- Ear inflammation
- Abrasions on or around the ear
- Dark, waxy discharge
What to Do if Your Pet Has Ear Mites
Because ear mites can be easily confused with common ear infections, it’s advisable to visit a veterinarian if you suspect ear mite infestation. As with any pest issue, prevention is always the preferred route as far as treatments go. Regular ear cleanings can help prevent ear mites, as can naturally sourced bug repellents applied before and after potential points of exposure—in other words, any time your pet is contact with other animals. From medications to natural alternatives and home remedies, there are several ways to approach the treatment of ear mites. Before attempting any treatments on your own, we urge you to consult your vet to see what options are right for you and your pet.
Advice for Cedarcide Customers
Here’s a tip we often give Cedarcide customers to help control ear mites: Dab a cotton ball with Cedarcide Original and gently massage it throughout your cat or dog’s ear. Make sure to treat both the ear and the ear flap, but be careful not to treat down into the ear canal, as Cedarcide Original is not recommended for internal use.
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In case our name didn’t give it away, cedarwood oil is the driving force behind our pest control products here at Cedarcide. So naturally, the obvious question is: How does it work? How does cedarwood oil (aka cedar oil) kill bugs? While the answer can get a bit technical, there are 6 basic ways cedarwood oil works to kill and repel pests like fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, mites and more. Here’s a simple outline of each one.
Most bugs are extremely sensitive to moisture loss, which is bad news for bugs that come into contact with cedarwood oil. Cedarwood oil is extremely effective at leaching moisture from insects and other bugs, leaving them dried out and eventually dead.
It Disrupts Their Pheromones
Pheromones are chemicals that many bugs use for navigation, mating, searching for food, as well as to regulate bodily functions. Cedarwood oil disrupts these pheromones which not only disorients the insects but interferes with their fundamental bodily processes like breathing. The disorientation helps repel insects and other bugs, the interference with their bodily mechanisms kills them.
It Dissolves Them
Insects in earlier life stages—eggs, larvae, pupae—are extremely vulnerable, so vulnerable in fact that cedarwood oil can dissolve them on contact. In adult insects, arachnids and other bugs, cedarwood oil helps dissolve their exoskeleton. This allows the essential oil to penetrate their shell, hastening the oil’s pest control effects.
Emulsification, or the breakdown of fat particles, is another way that cedarwood oil works to control bugs. Like many organisms, bugs require fat to live. By helping disintegrate this fat into smaller, more fluid parts, cedarwood oil attacks bugs from the inside out.
As mentioned above, cedarwood oil can interfere with bugs’ capacity to breathe. Unlike mammals, bugs breathe through openings located on the surface of their bodies. When faced with the lethal effects of cedarwood oil, bugs attempt to limit their exposure by closing these openings, which prevents them from breathing. In other words, the bugs suffocate themselves.
It Messes With Their Body Chemistry
Like most every living thing, bugs must maintain a specific chemical balance to stay alive. Any drastic changes in this balance can have deadly results. Cedarwood oil neutralizes the acidity within bugs’ bodies, effectively throwing this balance out of whack. As a result they cannot properly function, and shortly die.
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Picture this. You go out with your family to select the ideal Christmas tree. After an afternoon of searching, you find it! You bring it home, decorate it, then sit back and admire how well it completes your holiday decorations. It’s lush, majestic, and best of all—It’s real! Just one problem, there are things crawling all over it. Tiny legs scuttle here and there. Maybe there’s even a web. Wait, are those eggs? You guessed it: There are bugs in your Christmas tree.
This might sound like a nightmare, but it happens every year. During the winter, all sorts of bugs—from mites to beetles to spiders—take shelter in trees to escape the season’s cold conditions. Christmas trees are no exception, which is why it’s important to check your chosen tree for pesky hitchhiker’s, preferably before bringing it inside. If you’ve already set up your tree, don’t worry you still have options. Here’s 5 tips to ensure your natural Christmas tree stays bug-free.
One of the most obvious options is also one of the most effective: Shaking. The idea is simple: Shake the tree vigorously enough and you’ll remove any hidden pests, as well as loose pine needles and other debris. This is an easy way to prevent bringing dirt, grime, bugs, bird nests and other undesirable things into your home. While some retail tree lots have mechanical tree shakers on site for this very purpose, many don’t. Even trees purchased from lots with shakers should be re-shaken before being brought into your home (who knows how recently the tree was last shaken).
Regardless of what preventative measures you take with your tree, it should be thoroughly inspected again before moving it into your home. Insects, spider eggs, bird nests, even rodents could still be lurking in the limbs. If you’re squeamish about pulling bugs out with your hands (which you probably should be) consider using a vacuum to remove any remaining insects, webs or eggs. As for larger items like bird nests and rodents—those should shake out quite easily.
Let it Chill
Insects that use trees to survive the winter usually enter a dormant stage as the cold approaches. Once you bring these bugs into your warm home, they start to wake back up, thinking spring has arrived. One way to get pests out of your Christmas tree before decorating it, is to place the tree in your garage for roughly 48 hours. Doing so will allow your tree to warm slowly, which in turn will cause any hidden bugs to emerge from their dormant stage and leave the tree. Of course, this method could introduce bugs into your garage. But for those who dislike killing insects outright, this is a more natural and—you could say—humane approach to debugging your Christmas tree.
For the sake of your health, your family and your pets, you should never use toxic, chemical-based pesticides on your Christmas tree. Firstly, it exposes your home to potentially harmful pollutants. Secondly, many traditional pesticides are flammable, and while a flaming tree is certainly a bug-free tree, a smoldering pine is not the best look for holiday celebrations. Having said that, treating your tree with a pesticide alternative—like diatomaceous earth—is a viable option. Before bringing your tree inside, thoroughly sprinkle it with DE. Then shake off the excess after letting it sit for about an hour. If your tree’s already indoors, you can still treat it with DE, just sweep up the remaining dust afterward (but don’t use a vacuum, as DE can harm many types of vacuums).
Again, we strongly suggest that you do not use traditional pesticides on your tree. Naturally-sourced pesticides, however, are another matter. We recommend using a plant-safe, non-toxic insecticide, such as PCO Choice concentrate. Mix a 1:31 ration of PCO Choice to water in a spray bottle, spray your tree liberally and allow it to dry before bringing it inside. Not only will this kill any hidden bugs on contact, it will prevent additional insects from taking residence in your tree through the holidays.
Carpenter ants are among the the largest ants in the United States, measuring up to 20 mm—or roughly ¾ of an inch. Most often black but sometimes red or yellow, carpenter ants live both indoors and outdoors, nesting inside moist, decaying wood (like old tree trunks, or rotting wooden boards in human structures). While they burrow and colonize inside wooden materials like termites, unlike termites, they do not consume wood. Instead, their diet is like that of other ants, consisting mostly of sweet foods and meats.
Because they do not eat wood, carpenter ants are not nearly as damaging to homes as termites. However, if given enough time, a highly developed and mature colony can cause extensive damage to nearly any wooden structure. With queens living up to 25 years, it’s not hard to imagine how costly a carpenter ant colony couble be to a homeowner. If you’re seeing these little carpenters crawling throughout your home, or looking to prevent an infestation before it takes hold, here’s 10 Tips to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Naturally.
Prevention is always the best form of pest control. Follow these simple guidelines to keep carpenter ants out of your home.
- Keep your home clean—particularly the kitchen, flooring, windowsills and countertops. Without a food source, ants will have no reason to enter your home.
- Seal all food in tightly closed containers. Keep all food storage areas free of crumbs and residues (Tip: wipe off all those jam, sauce and honey containers).
- Never leave food remains or dirty dishes in the sink.
- Take the trash out regularly, and keep all trash cans clean and sealed.
- Any spilled food should be cleaned up immediately.
- Seal any cracks, crevices and holes—all potential ant entrances—with caulk or other sealant.
- Remove or remedy all sources of unnecessary moisture both inside and outside your home, including: leaky plumbing, basements, crawl spaces, A/C units, hoses, faucets, sprinklers, clogged drainage areas, etc
- Remove possible nesting spaces from your yard, such as: woodpiles, wooden yard equipment, brush, dead or dying trees & tree strumps, unused dog houses, furniture, and any other possibly moist, wooden items.
- Keep tree limbs and branches away from the walls of your home. Carpenter ants use these as bridges to enter your home.
- Do not store lumber or firewood inside or right outside your home.
Find The Nest
The most effective methods for ridding yourself of carpenter ants all involve locating and treating their nests directly. Carpenter ants nest in moist, decaying wood. These nests can be located either inside or outside the home, and unless you actually follow the trailing ants back to their origin, it’s not always easy to determine which. However, in general, if you find carpenter ants inside your home during late winter or early spring, chances are the colony is located indoors. Here’s some tips for locating a carpenter ant colony:
- Look for frass. Frass is finely ground wood debris that resembles sawdust. It’s the result of carpenter ants boring into wood to build their nests. If you see this in your home, the carpenter ants are somewhere inside.
- Damaged wood on or within walls, doors, cabinets, and wood beams is a good indicator of an indoor colony. Look specifically for sandpaper-smooth carpenter ant galleries and holes.
- Place attractants like dog food, jam or other sweets where you most commonly spot carpenter ants. Using their trail, attempt to find the location of their nest.
- If you have woodpiles or other wooden debris inside or just outside your home, check them thoroughly—the ant colony could be inside.
If you were able to find the carpenter ant nest (and it was located outdoors), this natural method is a way to attack the ant colony directly. It’s simple: boil a few liters or more of water and then pour it directly into the nest (this can be dangerous, so please exercise extreme caution). Adding a natural and water-soluble insecticide, essential oils, or soap to the boiled water will make this approach even more effective. You may have to repeat this process two to three times to completely eliminate the colony.
Sugar and Baking Soda Bait
A simple and natural carpenter ant bait can be made by mixing equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. Strategically place this mixture in shallow dishes in the locations with the most ant traffic. These can also be placed outside, particularly near doors and windows. The sugar in the mixture attracts the ants, while the baking soda naturally kills them (for chemical reasons, baking soda is deadly to ants).
Like most ants, carpenter ants use pheromone trails for navigation and communication—it’s also how they find food. Essential oils can be used to disrupt these trails, which ultimately disorients and deters ants. Lemongrass, peppermint, clove, cedarwood, tea tree, orange and lemon oil are all effective.
Dampen a cotton ball or kitchen towel with an essential oil of your choosing. Use this to wipe windowsills, baseboards, the perimeters of countertops, door frames, and any potential entry points. Repeat daily until ant population disappears. Your chosen oil can also be diluted with a carrier oil to create a natural ant-killing spray.
Soap & Water
A simple mixture of soap and water is toxic to carpenter ants. Mix one part natural dish soap to two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray as needed to kill ants and eliminate their pheromone trails. Continue to treat problem areas until the ants no longer return.
Made from crushed algae fossils, Diatomaceous Earth is a well known natural pesticide. This abrasive material damages the exoskeleton of ants that come into contact with it, eventually killing them. Spread DE throughout ant problem areas and directly on the colony’s nest if possible. Diatomaceous Earth is especially effective for combatting carpenter ants, which regularly die from consuming it.
Non-toxic Insecticides—Both Indoor and Outdoor
All natural, over-the-counter insecticides are often the easiest and most effective option for completely eliminating a carpenter ant colony. The best approach is to treat both outside and inside your home. Non-toxic indoor insecticidescan be used as both a repellent and a contact killer. Natural outdoor insecticides also work as both deterrents and spot killers. For best results, apply non-toxic outdoor pesticides alongside fence lines and your home’s foundation; this will create a repellent barrier to keep ants from entering your home. Treating your entire yard will help to eliminate any active outdoor carpenter ant colonies.
Vinegar is an extremely effective natural carpenter ant deterrent. It disrupts their pheromone trails and the smell prevents them from returning. Mix a 1-to-1 ratio of water to vinegar in a spray bottle (both apple cider and white vinegar will do). Shake the solution and then spray along baseboards, door frames, window sills, countertops, and directly on the nest if possible. Repeat the process daily or as needed to repel carpenter ants. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and multi-surface cleaner—so feel free to use the spray liberally.
Cinnamon & Cinnamon Oil
Not unlike the previously mentioned essential oils and vinegar, cinnamon and cinnamon oil deter ants by interfering with their pheromone trails. Dispense the cinnamon in whatever form throughout ant problem areas and directly on the nest if possible. When used around windowsills, baseboards, near doors and alongside countertops, cinnamon helps prevent carpenter ants from entering your home.
What Are Chiggers and What Do They Look Like?
Red bugs, mower’s mites, berry bugs, harvest bugs, chiggers—the arachnids scientifically known as trombiculidaemites go by many names. Ranging in size from 0.3mm to 0.4mm (1/60 of an inch), chiggers are nearly microscopic organisms known for their extremely itchy “bites.” Most active during spring, summer and fall, chiggers have four life stages: egg, larvae, nymph and adult. But only the larval stage individuals—in other words, the babies—are parasitic.
Found in moist vegetation worldwide (like grassy lawns, bushes and forests), these red-orange mites attach themselves to a host—a reptile, rabbit, insect, or human for example—in order to feed on their skin. Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not bite or burrow into their hosts; instead, they inject digestive enzymes into their host’s skin in order to create a hole from which they can feed. After sucking up this liquified skin meal, the baby chigger drops to the ground, where it matures into its next life stage.
What Do Chigger “Bites” Look Like?
Appearing 6-48 hours after the chigger has fed, chigger “bites” consist of red bumps infamous for their intense itchiness. These irritating lesions usually occur in clusters in or around areas where skin and clothing are in close proximity—like the waist, ankles, armpits, crotch-area and back. While the first several days are the worst, these bumps can persist for weeks, even months in a milder form.
How Do You Prevent Chigger “Bites?”
Like with mosquitos and ticks, you need to employ a repellent when venturing into chigger territory. Because of the toxicity of traditional bug sprays, we recommend using only natural, non-toxic pesticides/repellents. For the sake of your pets well-being, treat them to repel chiggers, too. For additional protection, we recommend wearing long clothing when walking in suspected chigger areas, being sure to tuck pants into socks, and shirt into pants. After returning from such areas, bathe immediately in warm, soapy water. All possibly infested clothing should be promptly washed in warm-hot water, too.
How Do You Get Chiggers?
This a two part question: (1) How does one get bitten by chiggers? And (2) How do chiggers get into our lawns. Walking through a wooded area, tall grass or weeds, or on lawns not treated with pesticides, is how most people pick up their first chigger “bites”. This is also a common way that chigger populations are accidentally introduced into our yards, as chiggers readily hitch a ride on our clothing only to be dropped somewhere near our homes. Other common hosts such as rodents, turtles, small birds, and more also contribute to the spread of chiggers—which is why a regular outdoor pest-control regimen is encouraged during the warmer seasons.
What To Do If You Have Chiggers
If you feel chiggers have invaded your lawn & garden, or if you want to prevent them from doing so in the first place, you’ll need to treat your lawn with an all natural outdoor pest control solution. In the heavy chigger months between spring and fall, we recommend treating your entire yard at least once per month to help keep your home and lawn chigger-free.
Spiders are everywhere. A recent study found that on average each square meter on our planet contains approximately 130 spiders. Which means if you’re reading this in a cubicle or kitchen nook roughly the size of a mattress, you’re being watched by about 1,040 beady, spider eyes! Their vast numbers are shocking, but nothing compares to spiders’ appetites. New research found that spiders consume upwards of 880 million tons of prey each year; by comparison all 7 billion humans on earth consume just 400 million tons of meat and fish combined. In fact, the amount of meat spiders consume each year outweighs the total biomass of all humans on our planet—in other words, spiders could, theoretically, consume every human on earth in just one year.
The numbers are shocking, but in truth, spiders are all but harmless to humans. Without question, our lives would be overrun with insects were it not for the spider, nature’s ruthlessly efficient exterminator. It’s for this reason that spiders are considered beneficial. And unless you’re absolutely terrified by them—or commonly seeing venomous individuals like black widows or brown recluses—we encourage you to leave them at their work. If you fall into the above category, though, we’ve got you covered. Here’s 10 all natural ways to get rid of spiders.
Clean & Remove Clutter From Your Home
Clutter and disorganization are a spider’s best friend, giving them ample space to hide and hunt. Consistently vacuuming, dusting, wiping down countertops, and de-cluttering your house will deter both spiders and their natural insect prey. When organizing your home, use sealable plastic containers instead of items like cardboard boxes, which do not adequately seal, providing spiders with yet another place to set up camp.
Clean & Remove Clutter From Your Yard
Brush, stacked wood, unused flowerpots, gardening equipment—spiders will make a home out of any outdoor clutter. Unkempt shrubbery, trees, and overgrown gardens also make ideal homes. Removing unnecessary clutter and keeping the lawn trim will reduce your spider population.
Seal Your Home
Even the smallest openings are a welcome mat to spiders. Windows, baseboards, doorways, light-switches, outlets, fixtures, wall & foundation cracks, chimneys, vents—all are potential spider entrances. Seal your home by remedying these cracks and openings using caulk—don’t forget to check basements and attics, too. The same process should be repeated outdoors as well, paying close attention to the roof and any foundation/wall cracks & holes. Screens or seals should be used to ensure windows, vents, chimneys, and doorways always remain firmly shut.
Turn Off The Lights
Traditional outdoor lights are irresistible to most insects, which makes them a dinner bell for spiders. Switching off these lights at night can do wonders for reducing spider populations. Indoor lights whose glow reaches outside are also a liability. For the former, consider trading your bulbs for yellow sodium vapor lights (which do not attract insects). For the latter, plan on installing additional window dressing to limit indoor lights from bleeding outdoors.
Get Rid of ALL the Bugs—Including Spiders
The most effective method for deterring spiders is to remove their food source—this entails adopting a general pest and insect control regimen, both inside and outside your home.
Traditional pesticides endanger your family, your pets and the environment. We recommend using only natural pesticides instead. For outside: Using a non-toxic, plant-safe pesticide, thoroughly spray your entire yard, including all shrubbery, gardens, bases of trees, and anywhere else insects and spiders might be hiding. We advise spraying front, back and side yards all in one session. To prevent pests from re-entering your yard, carefully spray along fence lines and foundations to create a repellent perimeter around your home and lawn. Repeat this process weekly—or as needed—until you no longer see spider activity.
For indoors: Using a non-toxic, non-staining natural pesticide/repellent, treat doorways, windowsills, baseboards and other suspected spider entry points. Continue treating these areas until your spider problems are resolved.
DIY Vinegar Spray
Spiders can’t stand vinegar—in fact, a direct spray is often fatal. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water to make a safe, all natural spider repellent. Using a spray bottle, apply this solution to doorways, window sills, known spider hangouts, and other possible entry points once a week until your spider problem’s resolved.
DIY Mint-Based Repellent
Spiders actively avoid the strong smell of peppermint, making it an effective solution for spider control. 5-10 drops of peppermint oil in 16 ounces of water will give you a handy spider repellent you can use throughout the home. As with the aforementioned vinegar, spray this solution in and around possible entry points and spider problem areas.
Citrus oils and peels are a highly effective method for repelling spiders. With a lemon oil spray or actual citrus fruit peels, you can deter spiders from entering your home. Place fresh peels skin-side-down along window sills and other spider problem areas, such as bookshelves, cabinetry and shelving. (Tip: citrus peels can also be used in your garden to limit spider activity).
Much like citrus, peppermint, and vinegar, cedar is a natural spider deterrent. Cedar chips/shavings can be broadcast throughout your lawn and garden to repel outdoor spiders. For indoor issues, apply cedar chips along common spider problem areas such as windowsills, near doorways, shelving, and closets.
For spider control, this chalky natural pesticide does double duty—killing and repelling not only spiders, but also spider-attracting insects. DE is highly abrasive, containing nearly microscopic edges which injure bugs that come in contact with it. Placing DE along spider problem areas and potential entry points will keep spiders at a distance.
What Are Mites?
There are over 48,000 species of mites. They can be found in almost every corner of the world, surviving everywhere from tropical environments to arid ecosystems, even indoors alongside humans.
Like ticks, mites are both arthropods and arachnids, but unlike ticks, not all mites are parasites. Some—like house dust mites—are scavengers, feeding off the dead skin and hair of humans. Some mites feed on mold and other plant-life. Some are symbiotic, living on the backs of insects like bees. And, yes, some are parasitic—like bird mites, rat mites and chiggers—which feed on the blood or skin of their hosts.
Do Mites Affect Humans?
You might be surprised to learn that the overwhelming majority of American homes have mites. The good news is that most mites are harmless to humans. However, there are in fact a few species that bite or pose other health risks to people. The extremely irritating skin condition scabies, for instance, is caused by an allergic reaction to the itch mite, which burrows into the skin of mammals to live and lay eggs. Mange is often the result of the same itch mite, along with another species, the Demodex mite (or eyelash mite), which infests the eyelashes of millions of people each year. The Demodex mite has also been linked to rosacea.
The most common biting mites found in the home are rat mites and bird mites. These two parasitic species prey mostly on small animals, but occasionally feed on humans too, causing dermatitis and acute itching. Another common household mite, the dust mite, is not parasitic and therefore does not bite; however, it’s a leading cause of allergies and has been found to cause asthma, too.
How Do You Get Mites?
The two most common biting mites—rat mites and bird mites—enter our homes through wild animals and pests. The former is typically brought into the home by a rodent, while the later finds its way in from nearby bird nests. Dust mites on the other hand live almost exclusively within homes, where they deeply embed themselves in carpets, bedding, rugs and other especially dusty surfaces. In fact, a typical mattress contains tens of thousands of these mites. Even more—around 100,000—can live in a single square foot of rug or carpet.
Perhaps most offputting of all, Demodex mites—sometimes called eyelash mites—make their home in the hair follicles and glands in and around the human eye. People with pets are particularly at risk of contracting Demodex mites, as these insect-like organisms are usually transferred to humans from dogs and cats.
What Are The Signs Of A Mite Infestation?
Because of their near microscopic size, and because mites vary so greatly from species to species, it’s extremely difficult to correctly identify a mite infestation. While some mites leave noticeable markings—spider mites spin webs, clover mites are recognizable by their bright red color—most mites leave little to no evidence of their existence.
In fact, the sole sign of an infestation often comes by way of the symptoms mites can cause in humans, such as skin irritation and general allergic reaction. Unless you’re able to capture a mite sample and have it identified by a professional, there’s little to no way to confirm what sort of mite infestation you may or may not have.
What To Do If You Have Mites
While some mites—like the mostly harmless dust mite—are all but impossible to completely eliminate from your home, troublesome biting mites are comparatively easier to treat. Rat mites and bird mites, for example, can often be eradicated simply by removing any small rodents, birds and bird nests from your home.
If you have mites, but are unsure of the source, fogging your entire home might be a good option for you. Fogging your home with an all natural, nontoxic pesticide is the best way to treat all areas where mites could be hiding. If you believe mites have infested your bedding or other linens, washing and drying them on a hot cycle with a natural, water-soluble insect repellent should rid your items of any remaining mites.
Watch Cedarcide’s Fogging Tutorial Below:
Ticks are arachnids that live solely on the blood of animals—and sometimes humans. Tick bites can range from mild nuisance to serious medical condition; and while most tick bites are harmless, on rare occasions, tick bites can transmit serious illnesses like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, relapsing fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis (and even more in pets). Ticks can stay attached to their host for days, even weeks, after the initial bite. The longer a tick stays attached to you or your pet, the higher the chances are of contracting an illness or other infection (ticks removed within 36 hours rarely cause disease or infection). In other words, if you or your pet gets bitten by a tick, you need to remove it as soon as possible. If you suspect you have been bitten by a tick, here’s what you need to do:
Check For Ticks
Hiking, camping, dog-walking—any outdoor activity, especially those in or around tall grass, can leave you the host of a tick. It’s important to check both yourself and your pet for ticks after engaging in any activity that might have exposed you to these parasites. Ranging from the size of a pinhead to 2/3 of an inch, ticks can be brown or red and even white and blue-green (especially after feeding)—but in all cases, ticks can easily go unnoticed. Especially when searching your pets for ticks, it’s crucial to take your time and be thorough.
Slowly brush your fingers through their fur, looking for any unusual bumps or lumps on or near the skin. Ticks particularly enjoy hiding in dark, warm locations, so be sure to check on and within your pet’s’ ears, between toes, under armpits, and under or near their tail.
When checking yourself for Ticks, pay close attention to these areas: armpits, ears, belly button, scalp, around the waist, back of knees, crotch, thighs, and in between toes and fingers.
Get the Proper Equipment:
- Latex gloves
- Pointed-tip Tweezers
- Rubbing alcohol
- A Zip lock bag
- Soap & water
Put On Gloves
As mentioned above, ticks carry various infectious diseases. When removing a tick, it’s not uncommon (though it should be avoided) for the parasite to become damaged, spilling blood and other fluids in the process. To avoid having these potentially hazardous fluids seep into a crack or sore in the skin, it’s best to be cautious and always use gloves when handling or removing a tick.
Remove The Tick
There are countless myths and old wives’ tales concerning how to remove a tick—some involve burning the parasite with a match, others advocate suffocation with solutions like alcohol and even peanut butter. However, most of these tips are incorrect and, if used, can actually lead to additional complications like infection. Instead, follow these simple steps to properly and safely remove a tick (the process is the same for both animals and humans):
- Using pointed tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin surface as possible; this usually means grabbing the tick by its mouthparts. Avoid squeezing or damaging the tick in any way—when harmed or irritated, ticks can expel infectious bodily fluids into the bloodstream of their hosts.
- Slowly and carefully pull directly upward. Don’t twist or yank the tick. With steady pressure, you should be able to remove the entire tick intact.
- If the tick’s mouthparts break off in the skin, attempt to carefully remove them. If this cannot be done easily, stop trying and leave them inside. Monitor the site and consult a medical professional if you spot any signs of infection.
- After removal, thoroughly clean and disinfect the bite site with soap & water or rubbing alcohol.
- Place the removed tick in a ziplock bag; it will eventually suffocate and die. You may wish to save the tick for up to two weeks—in the event you or your pet begin showing signs of illness, you may want to have the tick identified or tested for disease by a professional.
- Over the next two weeks, observe the bite site for any signs of disease or infection like rashes, swelling, tenderness or redness. Consult a medical professional if such signs occur.
- If you begin experiencing flu-like symptoms shortly after removing a tick (3-14 days), consult a medical professional immediately.
Prevent Future Tick Bites
Prevention is the only foolproof method of avoiding ticks and the serious illnesses they transmit. Before and after you and your pet engage in outdoor activities during tick season, it’s advisable to apply an all natural insecticide and repellent to both yourself and your furry friend. It’s also generally a good idea to treat your yard for fleas and ticks during the warmer months of the year.
– Ticks are parasitic organisms that feed on the blood of their host.
– Although commonly thought to be an insect, ticks are actually arachnids which means they are more like spiders.
– The most common ticks are the deer tick (also called blacklegged tick), the lone star tick and the dog tick.
– Ticks can be active in temperatures above 45 degrees.
– Pets and people can contract multiple diseases from a single bite.
– Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichia are all contracted by tick bites.
– Dogs are more likely to contract ticks than cats.
Top Places To Check For Ticks
- Under Legs
- Between Toes
How to remove a Tick
Use tweezers to grip the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Slowly pull upward and try to keep the tick intact,. Leaving the head or any body parts in the skin can lead to an infection. Do not touch the tick with your hands as they can carry many diseases. Place the tick into a sealed container and mark the date. If you or your pet begins showing any unusual symptoms your medial examiner will likely want to test the tick. After the removal has taken place, thoroughly wash the area with rubbing alcohol, soap and water.
Preventing Tick Bites
- Wear the right clothing. Try not to leave any bare skin where ticks could easily attach. Wear long sleeves and pants. It’s also easier to spot ticks in light colored clothing.
- Use natural insect repellent.
- Stay on the trails. When possible, stay on walking trails and away from overgrown areas where ticks may hide.
- Check for ticks throughout the day.
- Eliminate their habitats. Make your property less friendly to ticks by keeping your lawn and plants trimmed. Spray a chemical-free insecticide to kill existing bugs and prevent future infestations.
- Check your pets. Regularly checking for ticks and using a extra-strength tick repellent such as TickShield will help prevent pets from bringing ticks into your home.