By Ron Schwalb, A.C.E., National Technical Manager
Fleas and ticks are again a growing concern in residential structures. In the past few years, fleas seem to be making a strong comeback in many parts of the country. Pest management professionals (PMPs) are getting more calls for control for this pest.
A through integrated pest management (IPM) program is essential for flea control. An initial inspection is required to locate hot spots in the structure where flea populations can propagate. Of course, we know the adult fleas are on the animal, but we need to determine the common and “uncommon” areas where the flea can complete its life cycle.
Inspect areas where the animal normally spends most its time resting, sleeping or just plain sitting, such as on the floor at the foot of a bed, in front of a door or window, on a favorite couch or chair, or in the pet bed. This is where the eggs will drop off the animal from the adult flea and hatch into larvae. The undigested blood will also drop from the adult to feed the larvae until they pupate. This is why a good inspection is so important.
Control measures include a thorough vacuuming of carpet and all areas where the animal spends time. Washing, cleaning or discarding pet beds is also important. Application of a contact insecticide with an insect growth regulator (IGR) is usually recommended for indoor control. Outdoor applications may be made to yard areas, with an insecticide labeled for that application. The use of on-animal products is also recommended, especially if the animal can travel out of treated areas. This will help prevent callbacks.
Tick management includes first identifying the tick species, especially if tick populations are found moving inside the structure, to determine whether treatment is required indoors (for the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, for example). Most tick populations will develop outdoors, so good yard maintenance and treating the outdoor area with an insecticide labeled for that application will help control tick populations. There are some on-animal products available that can be used, especially if the pet travels outside the treated area.