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TIS THE SEASON FOR FLEAS AND TICKS
Hulett Environmental urges pet owners to protect their four-legged friends
Many pests can pose serious health threats to humans during the summer season, but there are also a handful of insects that can be problematic for family pets. Hulett Environmental warns that dogs, cats and other animals are at an increased risk of encountering fleas and ticks during the warmer months.
When the weather is nice, pets are likely to spend additional time outdoors enjoying long walks or playing in the yard. Unfortunately, this means they are more susceptible to attracting fleas and ticks. Not only can these pests make your beloved pet sick, but they can lead to an unwanted infestation in the home.
Blacklegged deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease to pets, while American dog ticks are known to spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever and in severe cases can cause tick paralysis, which occurs when a female tick attaches near a pet’s spinal cord.
Fleas cause itchy, red bumps that lead to excessive scratching, along with unpleasant conditions such as anemia, dermatitis and tapeworms. Additionally, fleas breed at lightning speed and can quickly grow into a large infestation in pet owners’ homes.
To keep your animals safe from pests, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a nonprofit organization committed to the protection of public health, food and property from household pests, recommends the following tips:
- Keep an eye on pets for excessive scratching or licking.
- Avoid walking pets in tall grass where pests often gather.
- Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals
- Wash pet bedding, plush toys, and vacuum frequently.
- Talk to a veterinarian about treatment options to protect your pet, and seek medical advice if ticks or fleas are found on your pet.
It’s important for pet owners to be on the lookout for fleas and ticks, checking their pets frequently throughout the summer months.
For more information on fleas and ticks, please visit www.bugs.com
Hulett Environmental recommends several tips to help homeowners take back their weekends and alleviate the problems of summer pests.
- Eliminate standing water and other sources of moisture in or around the home.
- Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.
- Make sure that there are no cracks or small openings around the house.
- Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to the home.
- Move food indoors or under screened tents during outdoor gatherings.
- Check yourself and your pets regularly for ticks.
Last year’s drought killed many things, but not mosquitoes. They are still a pesky issue, especially with the recent spring flooding.
“We’ve had large expanses of drought in the past year, weather.com Meteorologist Nick Wiltgen said. “But now that the three-year Georgia drought is over, the only region that has been continuously in drought for two years or more stretches from southeast Arizona through New Mexico to west Texas, and north to southeast Colorado. For other areas, the drought hasn’t lasted as long, at least yet.”
Although last year’s record-breaking drought wrecked havoc on most of the nation, destroying crops, causing water shortages and sweltering temperatures, mosquito eggs were not impacted.
Mosquito eggs are tough enough to take the worst beating from Mother Nature and survive for several years. After the drought ends and the rains return, so do the pesky critters.
Joe Conlon, an entomologist and technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association,told USA Today: “They are incredibly complex; they have a plastron (protective surface) and actually have their own atmosphere. Hey, mosquitoes have been around at least 170 million years, and it’s not because they are stupid.”
Recent flooding in the midwest are another cause for concern. Although the flooding has subsided, mosquitoes may be about two weeks away from showing up, according to wlfi.com.
“This past weekend’s rain set us up for a future of inundation with mosquitoes,” University of Georgia Entomologist Dr. Nancy Hinkle told wsbradio.com. “Millions of mosquitoes can develop in less than a cup of water.”
So how can you lessen the impact of mosquitoes? Getting rid of items that hold standing water are key, Hinkle says. For example, cups, cans or tarps in the yard.
According to USA Today, it’s also good to clean your gutters, drain puddles and ditches, change birdbath water weekly, and look for trapped water.
Weather.com wants to help you plan for the season. Check out the mosquito activity forecast anytime.
Chris Christie had a tough day at the office last week when a group of school children were visiting.
The New Jersey Governor tweeted a video showing him kill a spider on his desk, Talking Points Memo reported. ”Earlier today I saved a few school children from a spider,” he wrote in his tweet late Friday afternoon. Immediately after palming the eight-legged creature, and while the group of students applauded him, Gov. Christie said, “that’s also another fun part of being Governor. Any bugs that are on your desk, you’re allowed to kill them and not get in trouble,” the New York Daily News noted.
But it looks like he didn’t get away with it unscathed. Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), responded to Christie’s video in a statement to Talking Points Memo, describing the Governor’s actions as thoughtless.
“He probably did it without thinking,” Newkirk said. “Some people put the spider outside, but spiders are often scary to people, and that can prevent them from pondering their worth.”
This isn’t the first time a high-profile politician has been caught on film killing an insect, and provoking the disapproval of PETA. In 2009, President Barack Obama swatted a fly during a televised interview, and PETA released a statement dubbing it an “executive insect execution” that criticized peoples’ thoughtless treatment of insects, Talking Points Memo noted. The group ended up sending Obama an insect-transporting device so that it could be released outside, Reuters reported.
There’s no sign as to whether PETA sent Gov. Christie a similar contraption, but chances are there’s one on the way, considering how quickly the group sent Obama his humane bug catcher.
Is West Nile Virus something that the average American should be concerned about?
West Nile Virus continues to be a concern among Americans—and rightfully so. A recent consumer survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) points to mosquitoes as the number one concern in summer for homeowners nationwide.
West Nile Virus has spread across the country from Pennsylvania to Washington State since the first reported incidence in 1999. Since then, there have been a total of 19,710 reported cases, 785 of which were fatal. (Cite the CDC surveillance website totals). [[Figures from CDC West Nile Virus surveillance website totals from 1999-2006]]. In 2008, there were 1356 cases reported to the CDC.
If so, are there certain populations who are most at risk?
West Nile Virus effects populations nationwide.
What are some precautions that can be taken to help prevent mosquito bites in infants and toddlers?
There are a number of precautions parents can take to protect their home and family from mosquitoes. NPMA recommends a three-pronged approach: eliminate their food, shelter, and water. Here are some tips:
- Eliminate or reduce mosquito-breeding sites by replacing all standing water at least once a week. This includes birdbaths, ponds and swimming pools.
- Remove unneeded vegetation or trash from around any standing water sources that cannot be changed, dumped or removed.
- Introduce mosquito-eating fish such as gambusia, green sunfish, bluegills and minnows to standing water.
- Screen windows, doors, and other openings with mesh.
- Use mesh that is 18X18 strands per inch, or finer.
- Seal around all screen edges; and keep doors and windows shut to prevent entry of most mosquito species.
- Avoid going outdoors when and where mosquitoes are most active: during dusk or dawn.
- Use repellent on exposed skin whenever and wherever mosquitoes are likely to bite. Check product labels for information on age restrictions to make sure they are safe for your toddler or infant.
- According to the CDC, the most effective repellents currently available contain the active ingredient N, N-diethylbenzamide (DEET), in concentrations up to about 35% (greater concentrations don’t offer better protections). Again, check the product label for safety information regarding small children.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants, preferably treated with a repellent as well.
Consider contacting a pest control professional. They can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes and decrease the risks for mosquito-borne illnesses by inspecting properties for mosquito breeding sites, treating to control mosquitoes, and by suggesting corrective actions, providing basic information, current news and references to other sources.
Contact your municipality or township to see if your community has a mosquito management program in place. Only a concerted community-wide effort can properly manage these pests and reduce the risks associated with them.
I’ve heard mosquitoes described as the most dangerous animals on earth because a high volume of fatalities can be attributed to mosquitoes. Do you feel this is accurate? Why or why not?
Mosquitoes are dangerous insects since they are known to transmit many potentially fatal diseases to both humans and mammals, such as horses. Some of the most common and well-known diseases include West Nile Virus, malaria, dengue fever and equine encephalitis. In Africa, over 700,000 children die each year from malaria.
Have the reported cases of West Nile Virus increased during recent years?
The reported incidences of West Nile Virus have generally increased over the years, with the most significant spike in 2003 with over 9,000 reported cases according to the CDC.
What is the forecast for mosquito-borne illness in the future?
Unfortunately we do not have a crystal ball to predict future outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses or other pest-related illnesses. What we do know is that mosquitoes have been on this planet for millions of years and will continue to thrive.
Will we see an increase in the numbers of people infected by mosquito bites?
We really have no way to predict infection by mosquito bites.