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Fleas are a pest that many pet owners have had to deal with at some point in time. Because many species of fleas prefer to feed off of animals, pets are the most common meathod for fleas to infest a household. Although fleas prefer animals, once inside a home they will often bite and feed off of humans as well.
An adult flea is a small reddish-brown bug that is laterally compressed. This means that the bug is not very wide in order for it to move more easily between the hairs of animals. Fleas also have small spines on their body’s that prevent them from being brushed off of the host. Additionally, a flea has a hard outer body that prevents it from being smashed. Because of these adaptations, it can be difficult to kill them.
There are more than 2,000 species of parasitic fleas but the most common ones feed off the blood of mammals, including dogs, cats, and humans. Fleas are flat, very small (1/16 to 1/8 inch), wingless, dark-colored parasites. They travel from host to host by jumping and can jump up to 7 inches in the air! Pets living in warm, humid climates and those living outdoors are most vulnerable to infestation. Although fleas prefer animals, once inside a home they will often bite and feed off humans.
Like fleas, ticks are external parasites that feed off blood as their main food source. They are the most common pests of domesticated dogs in the southern U.S. Although many believe ticks are insects, they are actually arachnids, like spiders. In general, they have eight legs and are very small, typically less than 1/8 inch but, when engorged, can measure up to 1/2 inch long. Ticks can lay 1,000 to 3,000 eggs per breeding cycle. Ticks are most often found around your dog’s neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and the body, and between the toes. In addition to being irritating, ticks are capable of spreading infectious diseases like Lyme disease, so quick removal is important.