Flea & Tick Glossary


Citric Acid – A naturally occurring chemical that has some insecticidal and anti-microbial properties.

Deer Tick – A small tick (about the size of a pinhead). It is this tick that can carry the Lyme disease causing organism (Borellia burgdorferi).

Deltamethrin – a pyrethroid insecticide with a very high level of activity against ticks (and fleas). When Deltamethrin is formulated into a (flea and) tick collar, it demonstrates multiple effects against this (these) parasite(s), including repellency, rapid knockdown, and effective, long lasting kill. Deltamethrin should not be used on cats.

Dermal Sensitization – One type of safety test that is required for EPA registration of an insecticide/pesticide to determine whether the product is a sensitizer (causes an allergic type reaction).

EPA – Environmental Protection Agency is the government agency that regulates chemical products such as insecticides and pesticides. The EPA is responsible for ensuring that each product is safe for use for both the consumer and the environment. Before an insecticide may be sold in commerce (through any channel-vet, pet) it must be registered with the EPA.

F.A.D. – “Flea Allergy Dermatitis” or “Flea Bite Hypersensitivity” is the most common dermatological disease of domestic dogs in the USA. When fleas feed, they inject saliva that contains enzymes and histamine-like substances, which cause irritation and pruritis (itching). Repeated exposure to these substances can cause an animal to become hypersensitive.

Flea – A blood-sucking insect, which feeds on animals, can bite humans and is capable of jumping from 14 to 16 inches. Female fleas begin laying eggs within 48 hours of their first blood meal and can lay as many as 200 eggs in a matter of days.

Flea Dirt – Organic matter which flea larvae feed on. Flea dirt consists of partially digested blood (flea droppings), which is left behind by the blood sucking adult flea. It can sometimes be seen in the fur of light colored pets, but usually drops off onto the ground, where the flea eggs and larvae are.

Insect Growth Regulator (IGR’s) – A class of materials that control insects by disrupting normal growth and development, rather than by toxic action (poisoning).

Larvae – The life stage of a flea or tick that hatches from the egg. Flea larvae are small yellowish maggot-like looking creatures, while tick larvae or “seed ticks” are tiny six legged ticks. The larvae of both fleas and ticks must feed before further development can occur.

Linalool – A natural substance found in oils of Ceylon cinnamon, sassafras, orange flower, bergamot, Artemisia balchanorum, ylang ylang. Linalool has insecticidal activity and is used in shampoos, dips and sprays for flea control.

Lyme Disease – A disease caused by a bacterium (Borellia burgdorferi) and transmitted by the bite of an infected Deer Tick. Early symptoms can include but are not necessarily restricted to a slowly expanding red rash and flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, slight fever and swollen glands. Advanced symptoms include arthritis, irregular heartbeat, severe headaches and loss of sensation.

Mosquito – Species of mosquitoes are the most prominent bloodsucking insects that annoy man and other warm-blooded animals. Not only are their bites (and subsequent itching welts) annoying, but mosquitoes transmit several serious diseases to man and animals, including malaria, dengue fever, filariasis, encephalitis viruses and heartworm.

Organophosphate – OP is a classification of insecticides that kill fleas and ticks by interfering with the normal activity of the insects’ nervous system.

Permethrin – Active ingredient used in combination with NYLAR® in Bio Spot® for Dogs. See pyrethroids. Permethrin should never be applied to cats or ferrets.

Pupa – An insect developmental stage (frequently spent in a cocoon) in which the larva metamorphoses (transforms) into the adult insect. For example, in butterflies the larva (caterpillar) spins a cocoon and becomes a pupa, which then changes into the adult insect (butterfly).

Pyrethrin – Active ingredient used in many flea and tick products. Pyrethrins are extracts of a species of Chrysanthemum, which act on the insects’ central nervous system and are relatively safe.

Pyrethroid – A large class of insecticides produced to duplicate or improve on the biological activity of natural pyrethrins. These compounds include: permethrin, fenvalerate, phenothrin.

Repellent – An active ingredient in a product that has the ability to repel fleas and ticks, thus preventing them from infesting a dog or cat.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – A disease transmitted by the bite of a Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. Symptoms include, but are not restricted to, fever, loss of appetite, coughing, labored breathing and abdominal pain.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – A surfactant (“soap”) commonly used in many food and household products (toothpaste, shampoo, dish soap). SLS also has insecticidal activity. By removing the naturally occurring hydrocarbons (oils) from insects’ exoskeleton (“skin”), it causes them to dehydrate (dry out) and die.

Tick – a blood-sucking creature related to spiders. The type of tick that bothers dogs and cats are “three-host ticks”, feeding on different animals during their life cycle. When they bite a pet, ticks engorge themselves with blood. When full, they can live for months without food.