Flea & Tick Control

Flea, the common name for the order Siphonaptera, includes 2,500 species of small flightless insects that survive as external parasites of mammals and birds. Fleas live by consuming blood or hematophagy, from their hosts. Adult fleas grow to about 3 mm or .12 in long, are usually brown, and have bodies that are "flattened" sideways, or narrow, enabling them to move through their host's fur or feathers. They lack wings, but have strong claws preventing them from being dislodged; mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood, and hind legs extremely well adapted for jumping. They are able to leap a distance of some 50 times their body length, a feat second only to jumps made by another group of insects, the superfamily of froghoppers. Fleas' larvae are worm-like with no limbs; they have chewing mouthparts and feed on organic debris left on their host's skin.

Ticks are implicated in the transmission of a number of infections caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Sometimes, the tick harbors more than one type of pathogen, making a diagnosis of the infection more difficult. Species of the bacterial genus Rickettsia are responsible for typhus, rickettsialpox, boutonneuse fever, African tick bite fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Flinders Island spotted fever, and Queensland tick typhus (Australian tick typhus). Other tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease and Q fever, Colorado tick fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Bourbon virus, and tick-borne meningoencephalitis, as well as bovine anaplasmosis and probably the Heartland virus.

Some species, notably the Australian paralysis tick, are also intrinsically venomous and can cause tick paralysis. Eggs can become infected with pathogens inside a female tick's ovaries, in which case the larval ticks are infectious immediately at hatching, before feeding on their first host. Tropical bont ticks transmit the rickettsial disease heartwater, which can be particularly devastating in cattle. The ticks carried by migratory birds may act as reservoirs and vectors of infectious diseases. Over 20 strains of pathogenic viruses were found in the autumn in the Egyptian migratory bird study.

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