Rochester Science

Dog days of.. spring? Rochester’s pets bombarded with fleas and ticks.

Most would say that the unseasonably warm weather that citizens of upstate New York have been experiencing this year has been unexpected but lovely. However ask your dog or cat and they wouldn’t think that this weather has brought loveliness. Instead for dogs and cats the unseasonably warm weather has brought the rapid arrival of cats and dogs nemesis, fleas and ticks.

Fleas are small, dark reddish-brown blood sucking insects, they are small but you will know you are looking at one when you see it. Their bodies are flattened on the sides so that they can get through the hair on the animal’s body. Their mouths are made especially for sucking blood.

Ticks are small, dark brown with eight legs but are not insects. They are closely related to spiders. All ticks are parasites. Cats rarely get ticks, they seem to prefer dogs. Humans can also get ticks but ticks don’t prefer humans.

According to the University of Florida’s electronic information data source, there are over 2,000 described species of fleas in the world. The most common domestic flea is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis felis). The dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) appears similar to the cat flea, but is rare in the United States. Cat flea adults, unlike many other fleas, remain on their host. Females require a fresh blood meal in order to produce eggs, and they can lay up to 1 per hour! Adult fleas live anywhere from four to 25 days.

Katie Morrison, animal care assistant at the Irondequoit Animal Hospital has seen a drastic increase of fleas and ticks during these “winter” months.

“There has been a huge increase with ticks this year, and a lot of dogs are testing positive for heart worm,” said Morrison.

Common health issues that the Irondequoit Animal hospital has seen this year is secondary skin infects, allergies and parasites such as tapeworm causes by fleas.

Lime disease is caused by ticks and unlike fleas ticks along with their parasites can affect humans.

Morrison suggests to her patients to make it a priority to use monthly flea and tick preventatives along with heartworm preventatives.

“A lot of people think that flea and tick medication doesn’t need to be used during the winter months but the fact is preventatives should be used year round especially if the weather is warmer than 40 degrees,” said Morrison.

Not only should these medications be given to dogs and cats but also avoid at all costs wooded areas and tall grass.

Keep in mind that fleas and ticks can cause serious illnesses to dogs and cats and any and all precautions should be taken to ensure the healthy and happy life of your pet.


What’s that buzzing sound? Plasterer bees make an early entrance in Rochester’s unseasonable spring.

Spring is in the air, but along with all the beautiful flowers and leaves come the not as favorable insects. One insect in particular that can be bothersome is a bee, and this year there has been an influx of Plaster (Plasterer) Bees in the Rochester area.

Plaster Bees are native to North America ranging from northern Canada to the Southern states of the United States. They are most active in the months of March through July and live in the ground. In their underground nests they create cells lined with polyester secretion giving them the nickname of the polyester bee.

Typically we are accustomed to bees flying at us in our gardens or on our decks from above, but this particular species reside in the ground. Since the Plaster Bees rise from the ground it take a lot of people by surprise, but according to Lynn Braband of Cornell Cooperative Extension there is no need to be alarmed because they are not very aggressive.

This trend of Plaster Bees is not just limited to Monroe County. These bees have made early spring homes around the surrounding areas as well because of the warm winter Western New York has been having. It is not uncommon to see them in large gatherings on bare ground or in lawns. According to the New York State Biodiversity Project, the majority of bees in New York State are solitary bees such as these, ground nesters and digger bees.

These Plaster Bees are important for fertilisation, as is any bee. They are particularly important because they only gather pollen from a few species of plants. Some of these Plaster Bees have an advanced pollen carrying system on their bodies and are beginning to be used for commercial pollination. Most of the bees that are seen outside are males who can’t actually sting anybody. The females, even though they can string, are not very hostile so it is not likely that they would. The influx is expected to go down within a few weeks.