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Tick Truths & Tips

With the spring season upon us and a prediction from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) of a larger tick population this year, it’s a good time to revisit some helpful tick truths and tips.

Three female Blacklegged ticks

Three female Blacklegged ticks-By: NPMA

  • Ticks are not insects. Ticks are actually arachnids like spiders, scorpions and mites. Unlike insects, all members of this group have 4 pairs of legs as adults, and haven’t any antennae.
  • There are about 200 species of ticks in the United States, only a few of those ticks are more commonly found in Wisconsin: the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, and the Blacklegged tick. The Lone Star tick is also becoming more prevalent in Wisconsin.
  • Ticks do not fly or jump. They will crawl onto grass or brush until they find a host to crawl up and attach to. It is thought that ticks also have the ability to wait on higher ground and drop onto a host.
  • Ticks need blood to survive. Ticks will bury themselves deep within a host and can stay attached for days to eat.
  • A quick tick check after being outdoors and a prompt removal of a tick is important. For ticks to successfully transmit a disease, such as Lyme disease, they typically need to be feeding for 24-48 hours.
  • Ticks transmit a wide array of disease-causing microbes. In Wisconsin several tickborne illnesses have been reported such as babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, spotted fever rickettsiosis and Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the highest reported illness in Wisconsin.
  • Ticks are easiest removed by using a fine-tipped tweezers or there are tick removal tools on the market that are said to work well. When using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible, pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; doing so can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this does happen, try to remove the mouth-parts with your tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. Once the tick is removed, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. *
  • To prevent tick encounters avoid known tick-infested areas. When you are outdoors, keep to the center on cleared walkways and trails and try to avoid brushing up against vegetation and tall grass.
  • Wear protective and lighter-colored clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots or sturdy shoes when you think you may be encountering a tick-infested area. As an added extra ounce of protection, tuck your pants into your socks. Tape the area where pants and socks meet so ticks cannot crawl under clothing. The CDC recommends using insect repellent with at least 20% DEET if you plan to be in a tick infested area. Plan to do a tick check every couple of hours on yourself and your loved ones, and YES, check those furry loved ones too!

Call our knowledgeable staff now in Muskego at 262-679-4422, in Oshkosh at 920-385-0412 or toll free at 800-956-0800 to request a free estimate and ask us about our 4 Tier Mosquito Program, which also targets ticks. Visit us on the web at www.safewaypest.net.

*Source: Department of Entomology, UW Madison

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Just the Flea Facts

Cat FleaThere’s a possibility that the facts found here may leave you feeling itchy, but also more knowledgeable and better equipped to fight off some fleas.

Just the Facts

Did you know that there are thousands of species of fleas worldwide? That fact alone probably has your skin crawling. In Wisconsin we (and our furry friends) tend to only have run-ins with a few types of fleas. The cat flea is the most common domestic flea that we meet.

Fleas are small, wingless parasites that feed on blood. They appear flat, dark, and reddish-brown in color and are about 1/12”-1/6” in size.

Fleas do not have the ability to fly, but they can jump! Fleas can jump as high as 8” vertically, which is 150 times their own height.

Once a flea hatches and becomes an adult, it will jump onto a host. Fleas are attracted to and can live on any warm-blooded animal, but seem to prefer humans, dogs, cats, rats and other rodents. Once attached to its host, the flea will feed. The female flea can consume 15 times her own body weight in blood daily. Fleas will mate and lay eggs upon their chosen host. A female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime! Some of these eggs will drop off of the host and land in places such as our yards, bedding and carpeting.

The Threats

Besides the itchy, painful red bumps that flea bites leave behind, flea bites and infestations can cause allergic reactions in humans and pets and can also transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets. When fleas populate a mouse colony, disease can become a very deep concern, the worst disease on record being the bubonic plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats.

Prevention Tips

Since fleas can be transported on rodents and other animals, search the perimeter of your home in fall with a mirror, looking at the bottom side of your siding for any openings where animals or rodents may be entering your home. Walk the perimeter of your home looking for freshly dug dirt and use a flashlight and search under the deck to check for burrowing animals. A good prevention tip is to use chicken wire behind lattice to create a decorative “rat wall” to keep these critters out of these areas.

Keep your home clean and vacuum regularly, wash any bed linens that you think may be carrying fleas or their eggs.

Keep your yard clear of garbage and pet droppings; keep your lawn properly landscaped.

Protect your pets by checking their coats for fleas, especially if you see any excessive scratching or licking, bathing your pet (and their bedding and plush toys) regularly and see your vet for annual check-ups and for advice on flea products and prevention.

Fleas have the ability to reproduce quickly. Contact a licensed professional pest management specialist for assistance.

At Safeway Pest Management, our technicians are licensed and trained to handle your flea problem. Give us a call at our Muskego office at 262-679-4422, our Oconomowoc office at 262-354-3444, our Oshkosh office at 920-385-0412 or toll free at 800-956-0800.  

Visit our website at www.safewaypest.net

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Bed Bugs, Not Just a Bedtime Story


Pepper, our bed bug sniffing dog

Once upon a time bed bugs were only mentioned in childhood rhymes. These days bed bugs are a very real nuisance.  In the last ten years there has been a steady increase in the amount of bed bug infestations in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.

Historically, bed bugs have been around for centuries. Documentation has been found going back as far as the 17th century when sailors complained of bed bugs sharing cabins with them on ships. In the United States the problem with bed bugs was very common until about the time of World War II, when pesticides like DDT caused infestations to deplete.

So why the rise of numbers of bed bugs in the last century? Experts believe it has to do with the procedures exterminators use these days. DDT was banned in the 1970’s and since then the pest control industry has switched to less hazardous, eco-friendly methods like baiting, instead of using harsh chemicals to treat for insect infestations. The rise also has to do with the increasing number of people who travel worldwide and bring bed bugs to and from where they are traveling, transporting via person, luggage and clothing.

Most people associate bed bugs with uncleanly situations, but in actuality, bed bugs can infest even the cleanest of environments.

Bed bugs, or cimex lectularius; as they are technically known, have not been proven to be harmful, but they are a nuisance and feed on human blood. Bed bugs are usually about a quarter of an inch long, although after feeding, they can grow to three times their normal size – and are reddish brown in color.

Infestations of bed bugs can grow and spread very quickly since a female bed bug can lay up to 5 eggs a day and 500 in her lifetime. Professional help is often necessary and new innovations such as heat treatments and bed bug sniffing dogs are becoming more popular to rid homes, hotels and other buildings of bed bugs.

Heat treatments are a method of treatment that is increasing in popularity. By heating up a room(s) from 120-135 degrees Fahrenheit, the complete life-cycle of the bed bug is eradicated by the intense heat.  This is typically done in a one-time treatment and without the use of chemicals, a quick way to stop infestation in its tracks.

“Goodnight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” isn’t just a silly phrase for many these days, but it’s good to know there’s help out there so you can effectively eliminate these nasty nuisances.

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