Ticks are a nasty pest commonly found in North America. Ticks are parasites that are capable of transmitting many harmful disease to humans and animals with just a single bite.
Ticks are actually small arachnids. Their body is divided into two main sections; the top section houses the head and mouthparts, and the posterior contains the legs, digestive tract, and reproductive organs.
Common tick species include
Brown tick: Brown ticks are reddish-brown in color and lack noticeable markings.
American dog tick: American dog ticks are also known as “Wood ticks.” Males have a mottled gray coloration and measure 3.6 mm in length. Females have an almost completely gray appearance behind their heads and are about 5 mm in length.
Deer tick: Deer ticks are also known as blacklegged ticks. They are brownish in color but may change to a rusty brownish-red after a blood meal. Unfed females measure about from about 3 – 10 mm long depending on if they’re fed. Male deer ticks are slightly smaller.
Lone star tick: Female lone star ticks are known for the single white dot on the center of their backs. Males tend to have white streaks along the top of their bodies, but markings are less noticeable than those of the females.
Tick Eating Habits
Ticks are ectoparasites, meaning they are dependent on the blood of hosts to survive and move from one stage of life to the next. Ticks who are unable to find a blood host will die.
Ticks tend to live in moist, humid environments, particularly in heavily wooded or grassy areas, so you may come into contact with them during outdoor activities such as hiking or camping. In such cases, you should thoroughly check yourself for ticks by using the following best practices:
Check your clothing: Ticks often attach themselves to clothing, so make sure to inspect your clothes thoroughly and place clothes in the dryer on high heat to kill any ticks that may be present
Shower: If possible, shower soon after activity in a heavily-wooded area. This will help remove any unattached ticks and is a good opportunity to do a more thorough check
Check your body: Conduct a thorough body check focusing specifically on the following areas:
- Underneath the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- The back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
Tick bites are usually painless and are most easily detected before the tick has unlatched. Later, though, bites can develop itching, burning, or pain, especially in the case of allergies. Allergic reactions can include rash, swelling, shortness of breath, or paralysis. Removing ticks should be undertaken with caution to avoid bursting the tick and spreading contagions. Upon removal, the area should be thoroughly washed with soap and antiseptic.
If you have discovered ticks in your home, there are concrete steps you can take to help control them.
- Your home or kennel should be cleaned extremely thoroughly to remove as many ticks as you can; by reducing their numbers now, you make spraying much more effective. All bedding in the infected area should also be professionally cleaned.
- Liberally apply insecticide to the affected area, especially any area occupied by pets, as ticks drop off of animals and breed.
As ticks prefer to reside in cracks and crevices in high areas, you should focus on these areas with an insecticide like Bifen IT or Conquer. And be sure to treat your pet for ticks using products like Frontline to both spare them the discomfort and prevent them from spreading.