Fleas and ticks are more than just nuisances – they can be a detriment to both human and pet health, and ticks can serve as vectors for illnesses like Lyme disease. To provide your customers peace of mind from these pests, it is important to understand their biology and how best to control them.
Fleas are ectoparasites that have a complete life cycle, going through the life stages of egg, larva, pupae and adult. Depending on the temperature, it takes between 2-3 weeks for a flea to develop from an egg to an adult. An adult flea can live up to 3-4 weeks, and a female adult flea can lay up to 400 eggs in her lifetime.
Ticks undergo a life cycle that includes the stages of egg, nymph and adult. Depending on temperature and availability of a blood meal, it can take 3-4 weeks or several months for a tick to develop from an egg to an adult. However, an adult tick can live for as many as one and a half years and, depending on the species, a female tick can lay between 20-10,000 eggs in her lifetime.
Fleas and ticks are opportunistic pests that, through chance encounters, become problems for homeowners. The source of a flea or tick infestation, such as companion animals, should be identified prior to any treatment. If not easily identified, perform an extensive inspection to locate the infestation source. To further help prevent infestations, property owners should keep lawns mowed regularly, remove debris piles (rocks, wood, construction material, etc.) and treat pets regularly with products recommended by their veterinarian.
Before the treatment date for a flea or tick service, make homeowners aware of the following tips for their properties:
- Remove all items from the floor to maximize treatment area, and clean all floor surfaces so they are dry at the time of treatment.
- Vacuum all carpets, rugs and furniture, and dispose of the vacuum bag offsite to ensure eggs and pupae do not hatch or have access to the treated structure
- Wash all pet bedding and human bed linens, and dry them on a hot setting
- Remove all household animals, such as fish, reptiles, cats and dogs
- Bathe dogs and cats and have a veterinarian treat them for fleas
- Mow, pick up debris and clear the yard of all children and animal toys
- Clean and remove pet food and water bowls from the yard
- Clean pet sleeping areas
- Treat pets for fleas and ticks on a monthly basis
Make sure to communicate with your customers about these tips, and determine the party responsible for each one. Also explain the flea or tick life cycle to customers and treatment expectations; for example, it is common to have adult fleas for up to 2-3 weeks after treatment.
For best outdoor flea and tick control results, utilize a residual contact insecticide in conjunction with an insect growth regulator (IGR). The insecticide will control adults, larvae and nymphs at the time of treatment, while the IGR will inhibit them from reaching complete sexual maturity. Demand® CS insecticide (0.06%) is effective against fleas and ticks, and can be used in conjunction with Archer® IGR (0.01%). For guaranteed flea and tick control results, these product rates are recommended in a 90-day outdoor treatment protocol as part of the new SecureChoice™ Flea and Tick Assurance Program from Syngenta. For more information, visit the SecureChoice Flea and Tick Assurance Program homepage.
With proper education and knowledge of control efforts, you can provide your customers extended control of fleas and ticks. For more information,contact your local Syngenta territory manager.
Bennett, G. W., J. M. Owens, and R. M. Corrigan. 1997. Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Control Operations. Advanstar Communications Inc., Cleveland, OH.
Mallis, A. 1990. Handbook of Pest Control. Franzak and Foster Co., Cleveland, OH.
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