Specialised treatment is required for pests such as fleas and ticks and often these pests are encountered when moving into a property that has previously been home to pet animals. In rural areas, ticks can migrate from cattle, horses and native species such as possums, kangaroos and wallabies. Ticks can also be picked up from low hanging shrubbery and long grass.
Ticks have a four stage lifecycle – eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults. Unlike fleas which only consume blood as adults, Ticks require a blood host at every stage after hatching from eggs. The tick lifecycle can take up to 12 months dependent on environmental conditions
Fleas also have a four stage lifecycle, this being egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Flea eggs hatch between two days to two weeks and the larvae like living in carpets and sandy gravelly soils but cannot survive in dry, sunny areas. They can quickly become a major irritant for both people and pets, causing itching including dermatitis. Fleas can transmit dog and cat tapeworm. In some cases, severe irritation to flea ‘bites’ can result in secondary infections due to scratching of the affected area. The irritation is actually a reaction to the flea’s saliva
The larvae are unable to feed on a host and consume the faecal matter of adult fleas and other organic debris until they pupate, often remaining in this state until external stimuli is detected, often created when a new tenant moves in. After hatching, the adult flea cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal.
Both pests can be treated with chemical sprays which include insect growth regulators to break the breading cycle. Treatment will also need to take into consideration any environmental factors such as long grass, areas that may be conducive to the breeding cycle etc and strategies implemented to manage these. Where domestic pets are located, removal and/or laundering of bedding may be needed to remove eggs and larvae and treatment of pets with appropriate preventative products should also be undertaken.