Uncategorized May 1, 2024

Something Bit Me!

Fleas and ticks may not be common in the Tahoe Basin, nonetheless, they are here — living here, some even thriving here. Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

In the Sierra Nevada mountains, fleas are commonly associated with rodents; squirrels, chipmunks, and mice, which serve as the primary hosts. Other animals, like deer, or just about anything with fur, can also host fleas.

The most common species of fleas in the Tahoe Basin is the cat flea. Despite its name, the cat flea is an equal opportunity feeder, not differentiating between cats, or dogs, or humans. Anyone, or anything, is fair game to a flea.

Although a rare occurrence, fleas can transmit disease to both animals and humans. Disease aside, flea bites can cause itching, irritation, or allergic reactions in humans.

Small and wingless as they are, fleas can be found in wooded areas, grasslands and even residential neighborhoods. In other words, most everywhere except in Tahoe’s waters.

The warmer months in the Tahoe Basin, brings out the ticks. Considered an arachnid, a tick usually waits on vegetation until a host brushes against a stalk or stem, then the tick latches on for its meal.

When the tick finds a feeding spot, it cuts into the surface of the skin, and inserts its feeding tube. The feeding tube sometimes is barbed which keeps the tick in place. Some species can also secrete a glue-like substance, to help them stay attached to the host.

One of the most common tick species in this area is the Western Black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick. They thrive in wooded and brushy areas. Unfortunately, these ticks can cause Lyme disease, a bacterial infection with flu-like symptoms, which if left untreated can become severe.

Lake Tahoe Basin is also home to the American dog tick. This tick primarily feeds on dogs and other mammals, but will bite humans. The American dog ticks are known carriers of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia, both of which are serious and unpleasant diseases.

Hikers and walkers exploring the Tahoe Basin’s trails and forests should take precautions against fleas and ticks. Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, using insect repellents, and conducting thorough tick checks after outdoor activities help to reduce the risk of tick bites.

Pet owners should also inspect their animals frequently.

Locals in the Tahoe Basin understand that flea and tick bites aren’t common in these parts.

After all, reports of ticks and their bites are few and far between. When a person finds a bite on their skin, it’s difficult to say exactly what kind of critter was the culprit.   

Yes, the things that bite, the things that will sting will always be with us, so using a bit of sensible caution works well for everyone.