Ticks and Fleas Pose a Threat to Family Pets

Ticks and Fleas Pose a Threat to Family Pets

The National Pest Management Association Offers Tips to Protect Dogs and Cats from Pests

Fairfax, VA (May 23, 2012) – As the weather warms everyone is spending more time outdoors, including dogs and cats. Just like us, pets are at risk for attracting ticks and fleas when outside, which can pose serious health risks. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds pet owners to take precautions to protect their pets from pests when outside this season.

“The NPMA predicted an especially heavy tick season, making it all the more important that pet owners understand the dangers posed by pests and learn how to prevent them,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA.

Ticks are one of the most common pet pests. Blacklegged deer ticks can spread Lyme disease to pets, which causes fever, decreased appetite, painful joints, limping and lethargy. In serious cases, kidney disease can also occur.

American dog ticks, which are larger than deer ticks, can spread Rock Mountain Spotted Fever and cause tick paralysis, which occurs when a female tick attaches near a pet’s spinal cord. Tick paralysis can lead to muscle weakness, loss of coordination and in some cases, death from respiratory failure as chest muscles become paralyzed.

Fleas are another common pet pest. They cause itchy, red bumps that lead to excessive scratching, anemia, dermatitis and tapeworms. Fleas can also infest a pet owner’s home when they fall off a pet onto bedding, carpets or furniture and reproduce.

The NPMA recommends these tips to protect your pet from pests:

  • Check pets frequently for ticks and fleas. Be aware of excessive scratching and licking.
  • Avoid walking dogs in tall grass, where fleas and ticks often hide.
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals.
  • Frequently wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys.
  • Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently.
  • If you suspect a pest problem, contact a licensed pest professional immediately.

OrlandoSentinel.com: Much Needed Rain Brings Blooms – and Tiny Bloodsuckers

OrlandoSentinel.com: Much Needed Rain Brings Blooms – and Tiny Bloodsuckers

Recent storms have brought much needed rain to Central Florida. But along with greener lawns and springtime blooms come the unwelcome mass of mosquitoes.

Mosquito control authorities in Orange and Volusia counties are breaking out their arsenal of trucks and helicopters rigged with spraying equipment to keep the insects at bay.

But Jim McNelly, director of the  Volusia County Mosquito Control Division, said it’s up to residents to make sure their homes aren’t turned into breeding grounds.

The tiny bloodsuckers are a mainstay in soggier climates but it may be surprising to know just how little water is needed for mosquito populations to thrive. They can lay eggs and grow in water collected in objects as small as bottle caps left behind in the rain.

Volusia mosquito control is responsible for nearly 350,000 acres of land – most of it taken up by the salt marshes east of Interstate 95. But this season, authorities in both Volusia and Orange counties are placing extra emphasis on “container species” that can grow in residents’ backyards.

McNelly said those “containers” could be anything from tree holes to bird baths, dog dishes and kid’s toys.

“And those mosquitoes are active during the day,” McNelly said. “They are out an about when you’re out and about.”

While most container mosquitoes are simply a nuisance for homeowners, one type – the Yellow Fever Mosquito – was linked to the spread of Dengue Fever in the Keys two years ago.

“There has been a resurgence of Yellow Fever Mosquitoes in Central Florida,” McNelly said. “Though we’ve seen no connection (to the disease) here, we’re vigilant.”

Although Dengue Fever has not been a major issue in the past, Dain Weister, spokesman for the Orange County Health Department said it’s important for residents to remember the two cases of West Nile Virushere in 2010. One of the infected died.

And although there were no cases reported in Orange in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 24 cases across Florida last year. Only eight states had more cases, the CDC reported.

“That’s why it’s so important for all of us to remember to protect ourselves,” Weister said. “Not only can you get sick but in some cases you can die from it.”

Both McNelly and Columbus Holland, supervisor of operations with Orange County Mosquito Control say those who are worried about the environmental affects of the nightly bug spraying can be at ease.

Minnows and bacteria that eat mosquito larvae before they take flight are used in the salt marshes in Volusia and once the bugs grow wings, the sprayers are loaded with Spinosad, a chemical that won the Designing Greener Chemicals Award in 2010.

Orange County uses a chemical called Permethrin, which Holland said is no more dangerous than household insecticide.

“It’s the same as a can of Raid,” he said. “Everything we use can be bought at Publix.”

McNelly added that the widespread spraying makes life in Florida more bearable this time of year.

“There’s a reason Mosquito Lagoon is called Mosquito Lagoon,” he said. Without the counties’ intervention, he said, the mosquito problem would be “almost intolerable.”

Hulett Environmental Services ~ Termite Control

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Trivia: How much do you REALLY know about fertilizing your lawn?

Trivia: How much do you REALLY know about fertilizing your lawn?

Your lawn and garden gets hungry too! Fertilizer provides the ideal food to your lawn but many don’t know when or how often it should be done. How fertilizer savvy are you? Read below and find out!

It is best to fertilize your lawn at the beginning of each summer. True or False?

False. Late spring and early fall are actually the best times to fertilize. Fertilizing your lawn in the late spring helps strengthen grass roots and sets them up for successful growth. Fertilizing while your lawn is actively growing provides the greatest results. On the other hand, fertilizing in the late fall provides your lawn with the nutrients it needs to survive winter. However, no two lawns are alike and each requires a different schedule. For additional questions, talk to your local lawn care or landscape professional, a local independent retailer, or your county extension service.

Three ingredients are present in most fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. True or False?

True. There are several types of fertilizer and they come in numerous forms (powder, granular and liquid), but nearly all contain these three principal elements. If soil lacks any of these, plant growth will suffer. While varying amounts of these ingredients are included in every batch of fertilizer, each plays a vital role in providing plant health. A soil test can help determine the right amount of nutrients needed for your lawn. For example, higher amounts of nitrogen promote protein and chlorophyll production, encouraging the growth of leaves and stems. Higher amounts of phosphorus result in more flowers and healthier roots. And lastly, potassium thickens stems and leaves. This goes to show just how important nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are to creating a healthy lawn or garden!

Experts Warn of Mosquito Population Explosion

MyFOXOrlando.com: Experts Warn of Mosquito Population Explosion

ORANGE COUNTY, FL – Perhaps the biggest obstacle to enjoying the outdoors in Florida in the summer is dealing with all the mosquitoes, and this year, several southern states are issuing warnings about the annoying insects.

The mild winter has many experts fearing a big bug outbreak.  Some believe it could be the worst year on record for mosquitoes.  Experts say if you live anywhere along Florida’s coastline, you had better break out your bug spray.

Dr. Thomas Breaud monitors and studies mosquitoes for Orange County and says populations are not out of hand so far, thanks in part to our recent drought.

“A lot of times people will say we had a mild winter — this is ‘X’ therefore we’re going to have ‘Y’ and that’s not always the case.  What I can tell you is a mild winter certainly didn’t help us.”

With the ever present threat of encephalitis and West Nile virus, Dr. Breaud said we should always be on guard against mosquitoes carrying disease.

“It just takes the right conditions for them to spill out of the bird populations, because they’re bird diseases. If the conditions are right, they can get into us. They can get into horses, and they can cause death!”

Numbers from Orange County show some mosquito species are down this year while others are up, but experts say mosquitoes breed quickly.  It could be a totally different story this time next week.

Bed Bug Frequently Asked Questions

Bed Bug Frequently Asked Questions

Bed Bugs Avoid Blood with Higher Alcohol Content, Study Suggests

HuffingtonPost.com: Bed Bugs Avoid Blood with Higher Alcohol Content, Study Suggests

The common bed bug mainly survives on human blood, but what happens when that human has upped his or her blood alcohol content with a few glasses of a nice red wine? New research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests bed bugs are not as fond of alcohol as their boozy hosts, which may lead to fewer bug bites.

According to the study, bed bugs prefer alcohol-free blood to blood with  alcohol in it; the higher the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the less the bugs eat. And, because there is a direct link between blood intake and reproduction rates, those bugs also lay fewer eggs.

“[Bed bugs] need a blood meal to grow and to molt and to reproduce,” explained Ralph Narain, a Ph.D. candidate who conducted the work as part of his dissertation. “And one of their main hosts are humans, and we consume a lot of stuff. Alcohol was one of the easier ones to start with.”

Narain presented the findings last week at the National Conference on Urban Entomology in Atlanta.

How bed bugs imbibe

While it’s fun to imagine graduate students knocking back beers and feeding bed bugs on their arms, Narain took a more scientific approach in his experiment. He mixed 200 proof ethanol – the same compound estimated by a Breathalyzer – into four samples of expired blood from the Nebraska Blood Bank until he had BACs of 0.010, 0.025, 0.050 and 0.100 (0.08 is the legal limit for driving). A control sample contained no alcohol.

Next, he selected 20 adult bed bugs for each blood sample, weighed them, fed them their respective samples, and weighed them again. He repeated the experiment six times.

The average mass of the bed bugs that fed on the clean blood increased by over 100 percent. Those that fed on the blood with the lowest BAC, 0.010, increased just 60 percent, and the number decreased for each increase in alcohol. The bed bugs that fed on the 0.100 BAC sample went up a mere 12.5 percent.

As for the eggs, the control groups laid an average of 44 after the feeding, while those that fed on the highest BAC laid an average of just 12.

It’s unclear whether the  alcohol affected the adult bugs’ behavior or their offspring’s development, although future tests might attempt to measure both. Narain also plans to run tests on other drugs, although he wouldn’t officially disclose which.

Way toward pest control?

So, can we just knock back a few glasses of wine every night to keep the bed bugs away? Probably not. “I’m not going to suggest someone should consume alcohol to control bed bugs,” Narain said.

Ill health affects aside, it likely wouldn’t help  curb an infestation. While the bed bugs do feed less on alcohol-laced blood, they still feed, and while they lay fewer eggs, up to 95 percent still hatch. And it just takes a few to create a nuisance.

Dini Miller, an entomologist and bed bug expert from Virginia Tech, agreed: “I don’t know what sort of implications it has ultimately, because unfortunately they still produce enough eggs to cause an infestation. So while they feed less, still, we’re not going to experience less of a problem. But it’s very interesting to know.”

Guest Post on Chinch Bugs

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a Chinch Bug problem and for that I am sorry. They are not fun and getting rid of chinch bugs might seem like an overwhelming task. However, there are a few known tactics that have been known to limit chinch bug infestation and save grass that is at risk. Caring for plants in salty regions definitely comes with some hurdles, chinch bugs being one of the biggest ones. But if you act quickly and properly, chinch bugs will be the least of your worries.

One of the most important things to remember with Chinch bugs is that it’s never too late to fend them off. In fact, most the time it’s impossible to know if you’re even susceptible to chinch bugs until they’ve already hit your grass like a blazing fire ball. So don’t worry, that dead-beat grass of yours still has a chance.

How to Check for Chinch Bugs

You might be wondering now if you actually have chinch bugs based on the above list of known attractors. Before you take any drastic measures, you should try to find a chinch bug in your lawn.

I like this suggestion on detecting Chinch Bugs:

Examine the grass in the marginal areas of injured patches, not in the clearly dead grass. Spread the grass gently with your fingers and look in the thatch, near the soil surface. Because Chinch Bugs are active creatures, you should be able to see them dancing and running all over the place.

Another way to detect chinch bugs is to remove both ends of a large tin can, like a coffee can. Soften the soil a little with water, and insert one end of the can into the ground at least 2-3 inches deep, leaving at least 4 inches of the can above the ground. Fill the can with water and wait about five minutes. If chinch bugs are present, they will float to the surface of the water.

Once you’re sure you have them, it’s time to move onto getting rid of chinch bugs.

Chinch Bug Repellent Tactics

Like most yard and garden tasks, you have the choice to either choose organic methods or inorganic methods. If you would like to try getting rid of them while also being environmentally friendly, you can try the following home remedies for controlling chinch bugs:

Inorganic methods of getting rid of chinch bugs include Ortho® Bug-B-Gon MAX® Insect Killer Granules For Lawns and Scotts® Turf Builder® With SummerGuard®.
You will want to apply the insecticide between April and mid-May to control the adults and subsequent generations during the Summer.

I wish you luck with your fight against chinch bugs! Please let us know in the comments if you have any further suggestions or questions.

About the Author

Nate Armstrong is a yard and garden guru that writes for Sprinkler System Store. For more lawn related tips, follow him on twitter and Google+.