Many of us like to spend time in coastal areas and sunbathe on our favorite beach. While the feel of sand on your toes and the cool sea breeze are welcome, there are some things that aren't so nice about spending time near water. One of the disadvantages is that we share the coastal environment with many other animals,some of them bite. A group of these creatures are commonly known as sand fleas, which can leave itchy, irritating welts.
The next natural question you might ask yourself as you pack to go home or to your hotel is, "Can sand fleas travel home with you?"
The short answer to this question is that Americans generally do not keep true sand fleas in their homes. That's because of what we commonly call sand fleas in the United States and what they areFor realSand fleas, found in South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa, are quite different. Sand fleas, also known as jigger fleas or by their scientific name, which istunga piercing, are parasites that can cause a condition called tungiasis, which has been common in impoverished countries for centuries due to lack of medical care.The females burrow under the victim's skin., leaving a small opening in the skin's surface for breathing, defecating, and expelling an egg-laden fluid.
Victims of tungiasis experience severe itching and infections that make walking difficult. While one sand flea is not a problem, victims can have hundreds of sand fleas at a time, especially since sand fleas tend to be attracted to one another. Affected people often try to remove the fleas themselves, which leads to further problems, especially if the instruments have not been properly sterilized. If you think you have tungiasis, seek medical help as surgical removal of the parasites can control the problem. So if you unknowingly bring home a real sand flea inside your body, it can travel home, but not in the way you would expect and not bring it home in a manner similar to bed bugs.
Now that we've talked about the worst possible outcome of a sand flea encounter, let's talk about the creatures we most often encounter on the beach, whether you can get an infestation, and how to keep these pets from bothering you.
What exactly are sand fleas?
As mentioned earlier, we often call a group of animals sand fleas because their bites resemble those of a flea, although that's not usually what bit us. "Sand fleas" doesn't just refer to biting insects, including dog and cat fleas, mosquitoes, flies, and sand flies,but also on small crustaceans that live in coastal and marsh areas, also known as cicadas, beach fleas and leafhoppers. The Sandhopper is the creature pictured above.
Like the fleas that can bother our pets, these terrestrial crustaceans are known for their ability to jump. Most of these animals remain sheltered in the sand during the day and emerge at night to feed on organic waste.
"Sandfly" is another imprecise term for the flying insects we see in coastal areas. In tropical and subtropical areas and parts of Europe, infected female sandflies can transmit diseases such as leishmaniasis, which can cause skin sores and damage internal organs. In some cases, if left untreated, the disease can be fatal.
The insects we are most likely to encounter on a trip to the beach are flies, mosquitoes and fleas.black fliesThey are also sometimes called "turkey gnats" and "buffalo gnats" because they tend to prey on wild animals and livestock. Unfortunately, these blood-sucking pests can also feed on humans. If bitten, black fly fever symptoms may appear, including nausea, fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes. The bite site may have a small puncture mark or a golf ball-sized swelling. Black flies can transmit onchocerciasis in some equatorial African countries and in mountainous parts of South and Central America.
In the United States, six species of blackflies feed on humans. Other species may not bite, but they can fly around our heads and into our ears, making it a nuisance to be outdoors. In the Northeast and upper Midwest, late spring and early summer blackfly bites can become such a nuisance that hiking, kayaking, and fishing can become unbearable.
Mosquitoes have a greater impact on livestock than humans because they can transmit the bluetongue virus. Mosquitoes are quite small and their bites can leave a red welt and severe itching in allergic reactions. These insects are commonly known as "no see-ums" and are widespread along the Gulf Coast.
Can you get a sand flea infestation? How to get rid of fleas
Because the creatures we commonly refer to as sand fleas are terrestrial crustaceans, they prefer their beach habitat to our homes. Because we typically call any animal that leaves us with bites resembling a dog or cat flea a sand flea, the most common interventions for these creatures are the same as those that would be recommended for a flea infestation.
The steps recommended below will make your home less prone to fleas and other unwanted guests.
Thoroughly clean your home
In general, fleas can be kept under control by thoroughly cleaning the home, which includes vacuuming and washing the sheets. Keep in mind that these fleas tend to hide in areas you don't expect. New owners should thoroughly clean their homes before moving furniture or pets. Remember that any time you bring your pet to an area with fleas, whether it's a beach, dog park, or wooded area, your pet can introduce fleas into your yard and home.
Clean your floors with steam
When we say fleas hide in areas you don't expect, we mean areas like under the carpet, cracks in the floor, etc. Because of this, sometimes a localized steam cleaner is needed to kill the bugs. Prolonged temperatures of 1030 degrees Fahrenheit can kill both adult fleas and larvae.
Take precautions to protect your garden
Even if you keep cleaning your home, fleas can still enter from your yard, especially when your pet goes outside. Flea treatment in your yard can be done with chemicals or more organic options, including:
- Diatomaceous earth
- useful nematodes
All of these options work differently to rid your home of fleas, each requiring specific processes and different levels of risk to children and pets.
How to get rid of sand fleas
If you want to avoid itching and scratching on your next trip to the beach, there are a few things you can do to keep those biting pests away and avoid the ocean altogether.
The most effective prevention against what we in the US call "sand fleas" is probably the least practical for a trip to the shore: building a barrier between you and these biting pests. Wearing pants, socks, and closed-toe shoes will make it harder for these creatures to bite you.
Assuming you plan on working on your tan and walking barefoot in the sand, applying a repellent will keep many biting pests out of your wayDEETas an active ingredient. Contrary to popular belief, these products not only protect you from mosquitoes, but also from ticks, fleas, flies and other insects.
Some people advise against visiting the beach right after rain or in the cooler morning hours as these conditions are more conducive to fleas and other biting insects. Others think that sitting in a chair is preferable to lying on a beach towel as it makes it a little harder for insects to find and feed on you.
If you are a victim of beach bites, you can treat them the same way you would treat a mosquito bite. Try to resist the urge to scratch yourself as it can lead to infection. Calamine lotion, specially formulated sprays, and cortisone creams can help with itching, and ibuprofen can reduce swelling. The aloe vera oatmeal bath can also help with symptoms in severe cases.
Trust ABC to handle your pest problems
Some of these methods work on adult sand fleas but keep the larvae intact, giving you just a little break from sand flea bites.Your best bet is to call the experienced professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services who can provide you with the best plan of action Get rid of sand fleasand other annoying pests.