Q. I think I have sand fleas. When I go down into my basement something always bites me. What can I do about this?
Donald from East Liverpool
A. According to many people, “sand fleas” is a term used to describe many species of animals that are small and bite. True sand fleas are not insects. They are parasitic crustaceans found in and near sandy areas.
The size varies from a grain of pepper to a grain of rice. It is not impossible to have some sort of sand flea in Ohio, but our most common flea is the one that likes cats.
It is interesting that what most people treat on their dogs are actually cat fleas. Actual dog fleas are not as common.
The bite of cat fleas can be annoying to humans because the chemicals in flea saliva stimulate an immune response that causes itching.
The same response can be more severe in dogs and cats and can produce a serious allergic reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis.
Pets suffering with this level of flea issues would benefit from a veterinarian consultation for control.
Fleas can be transmitters of disease that can harm your pets. Thus, control is important.
The flea that is the most significant risk to human health worldwide is the Oriential rat flea, Xenopyslla cheopis. It is a highly efficient vector of plague.
The entire life cycle of cat fleas is completed in 21 to 28 days. Females require blood meals for the development of eggs and can lay up to 2,000 eggs in their lifetime. They only feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals.
Flea control is best achieved with simultaneous, coordinated effort involving strict sanitation, pet treatment and premise treatment – both indoors and outdoors.
For successful flea control, infected pets and premises need to be treated at the same time. This will include thorough vacuuming and cleaning.
Before using any chemical controls on pets or in the home, it is important to carefully read and follow the insecticide label and safety precautions. This is not a case of, “if a little is good, more must be better.”
If unsure how to proceed it would be best to contact a licensed professional with experience, training, equipment and most effective insecticides for overall control.
Further information can be found at http://go.osu.edu/fleas.
Today’s answer by Nancy Wloch, OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer. Winter hours for the OSU Extension office’s plant and pest diagnostic clinic vary. Submit questions to the clinic at 330-533-5538 or drop samples off to the extension office, 490 S. Broad St., Canfield.