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All Spring Creatures

March 28th, 2019

The days are getting warmer and the little creatures that were hibernating over winter are starting to appear – bumblebees, hedgehogs, frogs, and also the not so cute, ticks and fleas.
 
The first bumblebees you’ll see in March are the Queens which have survived winter. They’ll be very busy buzzing about seeking pollen from spring flowers. When you watch them, you’ll notice that they aren’t bothered by us or our dogs and all they’re doing is just minding their own business keeping busy with pollination. Now with wasps, that’s a different story… I don’t get that feeling with wasps. I don’t know if I’m paranoid, but I always feel like they are waiting and ready to attack me 😱.
 
Back to bumblebees… same as bees, these little flying, fluffy balls are some of the hardest workers you’ll meet. They tirelessly transfer pollen from the male part of the flower to the female part of the flower. About one-sixth of the flowering plants rely on pollination by bees to become the beautiful plant they are 🌺. I’m sure if bumblebees were included in this study, we’d see they are just as important. We need to appreciate both the bee and bumblebee and what they do by protecting them. The world would be a completely different place without them.
 
I’ve never been stung by a bumblebee, but when my dogs try to chase them and catch them I’m always worried that the poor, stressed bumblebee will sting their nose or mouth.
 
Queen and worker bumblebees have stingers, just like bees and wasps. It’s a defence weapon, and when they sting, poison is injected into the body. Unlike bees, bumblebees stingers have no barb, so once they attack they can withdraw the stinger back from the skin and fly away. Apparently, there is only a 1% chance you can develop an allergic reaction to bumblebee venom. I’m not sure about dogs… I think the sting would definitely make them jump and cause a bit of discomfort though. I tried to do a bit of research on whether a bumblebee sting is alkaline or acid but I couldn’t really find anything.  Do you know?
 
A bee’s sting is acidic and a wasp’s sting is alkaline, that’s why you should supposedly put bicarbonate of soda on a bee sting and vinegar or lemon juice on a wasp sting if you want to neutralize it and take away the pain. If my dog were to ever get stung by a bumblebee, I would first cool the area down with cold water and then perhaps even massage it with an ice cube for a few seconds. If it’s not on the mouth, I would apply Skin Relief to further cool down the area and treat the allergic reaction on the skin. If you are not sure what to do, you can always ask your vet for advice 👍🏻.
 
Other creatures that also start to peep their heads out at this time of the year are tick and fleas – not so cute at all! Unlike bees and bumblebees, it seems ticks and fleas are just here to annoy us and our dogs. Because of the disease they carry, it’s easy to forget that they’re actually also an important source of food for some reptiles, amphibians, and birds… perhaps some other woodland creatures too 🤷🏻‍♀️. This, however, doesn’t change my mind towards them and I can’t find any part in me to be sympathetic towards them.
 
Both fleas and ticks have different strategies on how to land on their host. As soon as a young flea hatches she is looking for a host. Fleas notice vibration and body heat and as soon as the potential host approaches they’ll jump straight on, bite and then feed on the blood whilst being hidden in warm fur.
 
Ticks don’t jump like fleas. They have a different approach…they wait, patiently in the grass, or bushes, or other vegetation and when their target approaches they just drop themselves on. They’ll then suck on the blood for weeks until we find them or if not, once they’re full, they’ll just let go and then lay their eggs in a nearby suitable area.
 
Ticks have a front pair of legs called Haller’s organs which detect smell, temperature, movement and carbon dioxide. This is how they know if a potential ‘victim’ is coming. They love warmth and moisture and are just waiting for a warm, moist environment to call home… such as your dog. A great discovery I made is that, for some reason, they are not attracted to the scent of some essential oils!

Certain essential oils smell so disgusting to ticks (like the smells of food you don’t like or something even worse… cooked tripe… blegh!), that they would rather go hungry than come any closer to your dog! These include geranium, grapefruit, cedarwood, rosewood, lemongrass.  All of these are in Vita Canis Tick Off, of course!

The active ingredients found in lemongrass essential oil are also very unpleasant for fleas. It won’t kill fleas but it can convince them to leave a pet host and stay away from your house.

When the sun is up, enjoy watching the flying bumblebees and bees and appreciate their hard work 😊 but at the same time… don’t forget to protect your dogs from ticks and fleas.

Jitka xx
 

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