mid-Missouri Pest Information: Blood Feeders
Pest Identification: Blood Feeders, Bed Bugs, Ticks and More!
Blood Feeders get their name for getting their meals off a human or animal host, and some can carry illness and disease! The most common here in Mid Missouri are listed below, with one of the most talked about being the bed bug. At about the size of an apple seed, bed bugs are great travelers, which is how they are originally brought into the home and then spread from room to room, from bed to bed, or from beds to other furniture. Other household blood feeders, like fleas, can be found on your furniture, carpet, or on your pets.
The bed bug used to be a thing of the past, but has made a resurgence over the past few years. Hotels and apartment complexes are vulnerable to these insects due to the sheer number of people coming in and out of them. The bed bug is about the size of a small tick and feeds on human blood. If there is an infestation, bed bugs will seek shelter during the day in cracks and crevices and come out at night to feed. They can be found around mattress trim, boxsprings, bed coverings, bed frames, wall hangings, baseboards, behind loose wallpaper, light switches, etc. Small spots of blood can sometimes be found on the bed sheets. Proper treatment is key in controlling a bed bug infestation, as they can quickly spread to other areas of the building and become a much larger problem.
Fleas have a laterally flattened body and are wingless. They are brownish-black to black in color, but reddish-black when filled with blood. Fleas can jump about 6” vertically, so they are easily transported by pets, wild animals, or clothes. A flea problem can develop in homes where no pets are present if wild animals nest under or around the home. Fleas can carry diseases, so controlling their presence is important. The process is fairly extensive, requiring diligent vacuuming on the homeowner’s part and proper pesticide application by a professional.
American Dog Tick
Dog ticks are the most common tick found in our area. They are commonly found on dogs and will readily attack humans, with the capability of transmitting Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick paralysis. Precautions should be taken to avoid contact with these ticks.
Lone Star Tick
These ticks get their name from the single whitish spot on the female’s back. They are most commonly found in the Ozarks and eastern Oklahoma. The lonestar tick is also a carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and possibly Lyme disease. These ticks live only outside, and the same precautions should be taken as with the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
Rocky Mountain Tick
These ticks are most common in the Rocky Mountain region and are carriers of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. They are brown in color and become grayish when engorged with blood. Rocky Mountain wood ticks do not live indoors, and are only found inside if carried in on a pet or human. You can protect yourself from ticks by keeping pant legs tucked into socks or boots, tucking in shirts, avoiding brushy areas, keeping your lawn mowed, and using personal insect repellant.
Chiggers are a common problem affecting people and animals that spend time outside during the summer. Chiggers are the larval stage of mites that are parasitic on warm-blooded animals, including humans. There is a common misconception that the chigger burrows into your skin, when it actually injects a digestive fluid containing an enzyme that causes skin cells to rupture, resulting in small, itchy, red welts. Chiggers are active from spring to fall, but are most noticeable during the summer. The use of insect repellants and wearing loose fitting clothing can help prevent an encounter with these nuisance pests.
Black or brownish in color, deer flies are so named because they are notorious pests of deer and other mammals. Deer flies are most common in suburban and rural areas where water sites are readily available for breeding. Female deer flies require a blood meal in order to reproduce and will bite humans, rabbits, rodents, etc.
The color of horse flies range from black to pale yellow, usually with stripes on their abdomen, and often with bright green or purple eyes. Horse flies usually feed during full daylight and are most evident on windless, hot, sunny days.
Mosquitoes are gray to black in color with 2 long narrow wings and a long proboscis or beak. They are of concern because of the deadly diseases that they can transmit to humans such as malaria, yellow fever, and West Nile. The use of insect repellants is quite effective in preventing mosquito bites. Mosquito larvae live in standing water, so emptying or eliminating containers that may hold water around your yard will greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes around the home.
Asian Tiger Mosquito
The Ades or Asian Tiger Mosquito gets its name from the black and white stripes on their legs and bodies. These mosquitoes only bite in the daytime from dawn to dusk and are capable of hosting and transmitting viruses such as: Zika Virus, Yellow Fever Virus, Dengue Fever, and Chikungunya Fever.