American Dog Tick
As arachnids, mature wood ticks (Dermacentor andersoni) have four pairs of legs that allow them to crawl efficiently through their surroundings and the hair or fur of their hosts. Male wood ticks are identifiable by mottled gray coloration along their backs. Females bear almost completely gray coloration behind their heads.
Adult females measure approximately 5 mm in length and males about 3.6 mm. They both have grayish patterns on their bodies. However, following a feeding, females may grow to 1.5 cm in length.
The American dog tick is also known as the wood tick and is common wherever domestic animals or livestock dwell. They also thrive in locations where plants, bushes and grasses are accessible to humans. They are found in wooded or grassy areas and may also be referred to as Rocky Mountain wood ticks.
Wood ticks are known to be transmitters of tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever. These diseases are passed on through the bite of these arachnids.
Because they are unable to fly, wood ticks situate themselves near areas frequented by their preferred hosts. They then latch onto the passing animal and begin to feed. In order to avoid wood tick infestations, keep grass around the home well trimmed. Inspect pets and people carefully after outings.
If you locate a feeding tick, remove it from the victim with tweezers or forceps. Do not squeeze the body of the tick, as this may further transmit harmful bodily fluids. It is also imperative that the mouthparts of the tick be completely removed from the bite site.
Black Legged (Deer) Tick
Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are also known as blacklegged ticks and are approximately 3 – 5 millimeters (mm) long and are colored red and brown. These ticks are often mistaken for brown dog ticks. Named for their propensity to feed on white-tailed deer, these ticks may also feed on other large mammals as hosts, including humans. Humans, considered accidental hosts of deer ticks, may contract Lyme disease from bites. Livestock and domestic animals can also be hosts.
Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are also known as blacklegged ticks. These ticks are often mistaken for brown dog ticks. Deer ticks earn their name for commonly feeding on white-tailed deer. The pests use other large mammals, like pets, livestock, and humans, as hosts, as well. Though considered accidental hosts for ticks, humans may contract Lyme disease from tick bites.
Deer ticks are commonly misidentified as other species of tick. Like other ticks, their bodies are flattened and they possess eight legs as adults and nymphs, but only six legs in the larval stage. Unfed adult female blacklegged ticks are approximately 3 – 5 millimeters (mm) long and are colored red and brown. Female ticks that are engorged with a blood meal appear darker and are about 10 mm long. Adult males are smaller than females and are uniformly brown in color. Nymphs are between 1-2 mm long (about pin-head sized) with 8 legs and larvae are less than 1 mm long (about poppy seed sized) and have only 6 legs.
These ticks are brownish in color but may change to rust or brown-red in hue following feeding. After becoming engorged by a blood meal, the body expands substantially. In most cases, a deer tick is usually half the size of the common American dog tick.
The size of the deer tick can vary depending on the sex of the tick and feeding state. Approximately the size of a sesame seed, a female adult deer tick measures about 2.7 mm in length. The males are smaller. These ticks are orange-ish brown in color but may change to be rust or brown-red in hue following feeding. The body becomes engorged after a meal and may expand considerably. Regardless, the deer tick’s body is approximately half as large as that of the common American dog tick.
Behavior, Diet & Habitat
Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are also known as blacklegged ticks. These ticks are often mistaken for brown dog ticks. Named for their propensity to feed on white-tailed deer, these ticks may also feed on other large mammals as hosts, including humans. Humans, considered accidental hosts of deer ticks, may contract Lyme disease from bites. Livestock and domestic animals can also be hosts. They are primarily found in the eastern half of the U.S.
Deer ticks are found in many locations where their preferred host, the white-tailed deer, dwell. They are present throughout the majority of the eastern United States and tend to live in wooded areas and along trails in forests. Deer ticks reside on the tips of grass and leaves along these trails, enabling them to crawl directly onto the skin or fur of a passing host. Some of these trails may be found in suburban areas where forests meet subdivisions. Deer and other animals are often active in these areas.
Deer tick bites are virtually painless, and victims often do not recognize that they have been bitten until symptoms appear. Campers and hikers should always check themselves thoroughly. Deer tick females feed for extended periods and can be found attached to the skin of bite victims. If there are medical concerns, consult a physician.
Lyme disease is a debilitating disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks are the most common vectors of this bacterium. Lyme disease is easily transmitted to human and animal hosts through the deer tick’s bite.
Although deer ticks do not jump or fly, they remain in grassy areas frequented by dogs, cats and other warm-blooded hosts. As these hosts brush against the grass, deer ticks cling to the coat of the animal and begin to feed. Because the ticks potentially bite a different host for the next meal, infected ticks are capable of spreading Lyme disease quickly throughout a population.
The small size of the deer tick is also a factor in the prevalence of Lyme disease. Their bites are not painful, and most victims do not notice them until they have become engorged from prolonged feeding.
Removal of deer ticks can be difficult. If a specimen is crushed, infected bodily fluids are released and may further contaminate a bite victim. Contact a physician for any medical concerns.
Due to the arachnid’s small size, it can be difficult to locate the deer tick on its host. These parasites attach themselves to hosts and hide within the fur, hair or feathers.
On humans, deer ticks are commonly found in the areas near the nape of the neck or along the lower scalp. Extreme care must be exercised when removing a tick from the skin of any host, as bodily fluids may be released if the tick is crushed or punctured. The most efficient removal method includes the use of tweezers or forceps. It is important to remove the entire tick, including its embedded mouthparts.
Brown Dog Tick
Adult brown dog ticks are reddish-brown and lack any easily noticeable markings that are found on many other tick species. Adults that have not taken a blood meal are about 1/8-inch long. Blood-fed females are about a ½-inch long and have a blue-gray coloration. Males are smaller than females, but are colored very similarly.
Behavior, Diet & Habitat
Canines are the preferred brown dog tick host and this species seldom attacks other hosts. However, they may sometimes consume a blood meal from people. Their typical habitat is warm, protected indoor locations where dogs are found, and they may become established inside homes. Animal kennels are another place where brown dog ticks can thrive, so kennel tick is another common name for the species.
Infested pets usually introduce the pests into the home. Because they are found deep within the hair of animals, homeowners may not immediately see them. Sometimes, an infestation may not be recognized until populations grow large and ticks are seen crawling across floors or walls. Adult ticks typically imbed themselves to a dog’s ears and between its toes, while larvae and nymphs typically attach to the dog’s back. After feeding, the tick drops off the host but does not travel far. The adult female tick lays a mass of 1,000 – 3,000 eggs after taking a blood meal, and eggs are often laid around baseboards, window and door casings, curtains, furniture, and rug edges. Females can often be seen climbing up walls searching for a place to lay their eggs. Adults that have not consumed a blood meal may live for as long as 200 days.
Brown dog ticks are three-host ticks. This means they occur on a different host at each of its three active life stages (larva, nymph and adult). However, a brown dog tick can live off one host for its entire life, if survival requires it. Additionally, the brown dog tick can complete its entire life cycle indoors, unlike most other species of tick. In the southern United States, brown dog ticks may live in grass or bushes around homes, dog houses, or kennels, and pets may easily pick them up. It takes about 60 days to complete a generation if conditions are optimal.
Range / Distribution
Brown dog ticks can be found throughout the eastern U.S. as well as areas of the West Coast. However, they are more likely to inhabit warm environments and are prolific in the southern areas of the United States. They can be found in particularly high concentrations in Florida.
Brown dog ticks may be potential vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever but are not known to transmit Lyme disease. They may also transmit canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis to dogs.
Infestation or Control
In the event of an infestation severe enough to require pesticides, homeowners are advised to contact Betts Pest Control. In order to reduce or control indoor brown dog tick infestations, the affected home must be thoroughly cleaned. Special shampoos and medications may also be used on the affected pet’s fur. Contact your veterinarian to discuss any such treatments. Severe infestations often require the services of Betts Pest Control.
In homes, all areas frequented by house pets should be kept clean.
Brown dog ticks are often mistaken for deer ticks, which are known carriers of Lyme disease. However, brown dog ticks instead transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If there are medical concerns regarding a tick bite, consult a medical professional.
If a homeowner suspects a problem with brown dog ticks, the best thing to do is seek the advice and assistance of Betts Pest Control. Betts will provide a thorough inspection and prepare an integrated control plan based upon the findings. In general, an effective and efficient brown dog tick control plan includes:
Frequently inspecting dogs or other pets and promptly eliminating any ticks that are found.
Using approved tick control products to target ticks that are either inside or outside the home.
Frequently cleaning and vacuuming the home’s interior to remove as many ticks as possible.
Lone Star Tick
Lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum, are one of the more easily recognized ticks since the female adult has an easily noticed white dot on the center of her back. Males of the species have white lines or streaks around the edges of the top of their body, but these markings are not as noticeable as the markings on the female. Adult females measure approximately 5 mm in length and males about 3.6 mm. Often, lone star ticks are mistaken for blacklegged ticks, one of two tick vectors of Lyme disease. However, Lone Star ticks are not known to transmit Lyme disease.
Behavior, Diet & Habitat
Found across the U.S., the lone star tick is primarily distributed throughout the eastern, southeastern, and midwestern portions of the country. Also, the tick is reportedly found in other areas and is known to be expanding its range both northward and westward. Amblyomma americanum frequently is located in second-growth woodland habitats, especially where the white-tail deer populations are plentiful.
Lone star ticks are three-host ticks, meaning they take a blood meal from different hosts when in their larval, nymphal and adult stages. After feeding once in each stage, the tick falls to the ground and molts or a fertile adult female lays eggs.
Hosts commonly infested by lone star ticks are humans, domesticated animals such as cattle, dogs and horses, ground-dwelling birds, squirrels, opossums and raccoons, plus white-tailed deer and coyotes. Primarily active in May and June, the lone star tick can become active on warm days during the winter and early spring.
Disease Transmission & Bites
Lone star ticks are able to transmit several tick-borne diseases; however, they do not transmit Lyme disease even though people bitten by lone star ticks sometimes develop a rash that is similar to the Lyme disease rash. This rash, if also involving fatigue, headache, fever, muscle and joint pains is a condition called southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Some other diseases associated with lone star ticks are ehrlichiosis, tularemia and a virus suspected to be transmitted by lone star ticks. This virus, called Heartland virus, was identified in 2012 and as of March 2014, eight cases have been identified among residents of Missouri and Tennessee. Individuals infected with the Heartland virus often experience symptoms like fatigue, fever, headache, muscle ache, diarrhea, appetite loss, and upset stomach.
Another condition thought to be associated with blood-feeding lone star ticks is a severe red meat allergy. Common allergic reactions include hives and swelling. Individuals prone to severe allergic reactions can experience symptoms of anaphylaxis such as vomiting, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. Cases of the condition have been found in southern states like Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Instances have also spread up the Eastern seaboard in states with deer populations. Persons with the allergy can go into a delayed anaphylactic shock 4-6 hours after eating red meat.