Fleas are wingless, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. Fleas are about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long with long legs that are well adapted for jumping from host to host. Fleas are capable of jumping 200 times their own body length, which makes them one of the best jumpers within the animal kingdom. Fleas have a four stage life cycle, and they can live from two weeks to eight months depending on environmental factors. A female flea lays about 600 eggs in her lifetime, usually on the host animal. Fleas are also vectors for a variety of viral and bacterial diseases.
The American dog tick is a hard bodied tick often found in the midwest and eastern parts of North America. These ticks are about 1/4 of an inch long are are known to carry the bacteria that is responsible for human disease, such as Rock Mountain spotted fever and tularemia, these ticks are not vectors for lyme disease.
The brown dog tick is found worldwide, but prefers warmer climates. This species can also complete its entire life cycle indoors, unlike other ticks. They feed on mammals, but prefer dogs as their host, so they can become a major pest problem in homes and kennels. These ticks are a vector for several diseases in humans and canines. Regular grooming, especially after kenneling or interaction with other dogs can help prevent the spread of an infestation.
The deer tick is a hard bodied tick that is common in the eastern and northern midwestern United States. This tick is the vector for several diseases, notably, Lyme disease. They get their name from its habit of using white-tailed deer as their host. After a blood meal, these ticks become engorged and their abdomen will be a light grayish-blue color. Once engorged, the tick will drop off of the host , and female deer ticks will proceed to lay their eggs on the forest floor.
Clover mites are reddish-brown mites that are less than a millimeter long. They have two long legs that point forward that are often confused for antennae. They prefer to feed on vegetation, especially fertilized grass. While difficult to see, they can turn grass a silvery color and can often enter houses when thick vegetation is near the walls and there are small cracks or openings around doors or windows.
Bird mites are parasitic insects that feed on mammals. These mites require a blood meal to reproduce, but they can survive for extended periods of time without a host. They are very small, often .5mm long, and immature bird mites are usually not seen without magnification. These mites are often active at night to be able to feed on nest birds, and in a home they prefer to infest bedding material and furniture, especially cotton.