Also Known As:
American dog ticks, Deer or black legged ticks, Lone star ticks
How to Identify:
Color: Color varies by species.
Size: Adults can be smaller than a sunflower seed (over 1 cm long if engorged with blood), while tick larvae can be less than 1 mm.
Legs:Ticks have only six legs during their larval stage and eight legs during their nymphal and adult stages.
Tick – Identification and Treatments. Summertime is prime time for blood-sucking ticks, and your pets are walking targets for these arachnids (related to spiders and mites) to attach to and feed from. In order to prevent ticks and the potential diseases they carry, it helps to understand how these creatures develop.
There are two broad classifications for the more than 850 species of ticks. They are classed by body structure: soft ticks and hard ticks. Ticks in the Ixodidae family have a hard outer covering, called a scutum. Soft ticks – those without a scutum – belong to the Argasidae family. The most common ticks that prey on pets are the hard bodied ticks. Soft ticks are more common in the Southwest and are typically discovered in the ears of pets, where the skin in thinner.
Four Life Stages
The majority of hard ticks require three different hosts to complete their development. During this development, ticks go through four stages of life. These stages are egg, larvae (or seed tick), nymph, and adult.
Generally, adult female hard ticks breed while on the host animal and then drop to the ground to lay eggs. A female lays several thousand eggs at a time, which will eventually hatch into the larval stage, known as seed ticks. At this stage of life, these small ticks (about 1/8-inch in size) have six legs.
Ticks can’t jump, so they must find ways to attach to their hosts. They will use blades of grass and other vegetation to elevate themselves to the height where they can easily grasp onto passing animals such as small rodents or birds. Proximate biochemical signals, such as rising carbon dioxide levels emitted by a warm blooded mammal, alert the ticks to passing hosts.
This procedure is called “questing,” and ticks use these behaviors to find their first host for an initial blood meal. After filling with blood over several days, the seed ticks fall to the ground again, where they molt (shed their outer skins) and become eight-legged nymphs.
The nymph will then lie in wait for a second host to attach to and engorge on blood. The nymphs prefer a larger animal as a host, such as a raccoon or possum. Following engorgement, nymphs drop to the ground where they molt yet again to finally become adult ticks. The adult ticks then go on a hunt for a third, even larger host, such as a deer or dog, where they are able to feed and then breed, resulting in reproduction (i.e., eggs).
Completing the cycle
Depending on the species of tick, the entire life cycle can take from two months to years to complete. There are some species of ticks that only require one host (or sometimes two) to complete their life cycle. Hard ticks will typically lay eggs on the ground in protected areas during the spring. The brown dog tick is the exception in that it may lay its eggs indoors. As ambient temperature and moisture levels rise, eggs hatch into larvae. Larvae feed and molt into nymphs during late summer.
Nymphs will be inactive during winter and then start feeding again in the spring. After feeding and molting into adults through the summer months, the ticks spend the fall season feeding and breeding. Males will die off, while the females survive through winter and lay their eggs again the next spring.
Soft ticks differ from hard ticks in that they will develop through several nymph stages, slowly increasing in size until a final molt results in the adult. Their life cycles can take much longer than hard ticks, up to several years in duration. Soft ticks are even known to be able to survive long periods of time without access to a blood meal from a host.
No matter the species or type of tick you encounter on your pet, it’s best to remove them carefully and completely. Know how to remove a tick safely before attempting it, as a poorly conducted removal can cause damage – to you and/or your pet.
If you live an in area where ticks are prevalent, or if you are going to be taking your pet to a location that is known for ticks (e.g., wooded areas and open, grassy areas), protect your pet by applying a tick collar, a spot-on, or a spray to prevent ticks from making a meal out of your pet this summer.
Even with tick repellents, make sure to do a full inspection of your pet whenever s/he has been outside in an area known for harboring ticks. Vigilance is the best protection against tick borne diseases.
Are They Dangerous?
These pests do not present much of a threat to well-built homes with effectively constructed and maintained exclusionary measures, unless there is a host’s burrow or nest inside the structure. However, in rustic cabins or old, poorly constructed and maintained homes with multiple sources of entry, the pests may attempt to feed on humans before returning to their sheltered sites. According to a recent CDC statement, the number of illnesses caused by tick bites tripled between 2004 and 2016.
How to Stop Them:
1. Clean your yard every couple weeks
For the elimination of the fleas and ticks, neatness counts. If you clean your yard once every couple weeks, you may eliminate the threat of ticks entirely. Remove debris such as piles of bricks, stones, and lumber. Pick up discarded pots and other items and stack them neatly. Wood piles are notorious for housing ticks, as they can provide a nearly ideal environment for them. It is very important to clean your yard regularly in the summer as it’s their growing and breeding seasons.
2. Limit the wildlife
Feral cats, rabbits, and squirrels regularly visiting your yard are the reason you have ticks in your yard. Urban wildlife regularly carries ticks and fleas and other parasites. If these critters visit frequently, you need to do something about it. Fencing a yard is a suitable approach if it fits with your overall neighborhood aesthetic, or you can also spend time to reduce your yard’s appeal to them. These animals are attracted by trash and debris, so get rid of it. Skunks may prowl for grubs in your yards and lawn. Squirrels are attracted by the bird seed and mice may feast on the berries on shrubs. Never allow the wildlife to set up housekeeping under decks on your property.
3. Pest Repelling plants
If you didn’t know this before, there are plants which can repel pests, even ticks. Plants such as thyme, citronella, geraniums, and eucalyptus are believed (and in some cases proven) to naturally deter insects and arachnids. This means you could make a dent in your tick snd mosquito populations, as well as wasps, and hornets. Growing these plants in your backyard and lawn may not only keep away ticks but also add beauty to your lawn.
4. Spray plain oil soap and water
This is another eco-friendly way of keeping the ticks away as well as being one of the oldest methods. By spraying a mixture of soap and water in your yard is effective against a tick infestation. This simple method can kill them instantly. This happens as such a mixture clogs an insect’s breathing pores, causing near immediate death of the bug. Please do not do this if you are around honeybees, as it can be an effective home solution for many things other than ticks (for example, it works great on boxelder bugs).
5. Create a perimeter
Establish a barrier around your house with an environmentally safe pesticide. This will help you to prevent ticks and fleas from migrating into your home without your permission. This method is most effective if you don’t have a pet. If you have a pet, the ticks can still hitch a ride and get into your home that way. Create a 6-inch wide clean area by getting rid of every sort of garbage, brush, plants, and leaf litter around your home. Keep the lawn inside the perimeter mowed on a very consistent bases. This will eliminate the hiding places that ticks use for sanctuary.
6. Check pet hangouts
Your pet’s favorite spots might be infested with the larvae of ticks, and you may not have the time to wash them out every day. As such, you’ll need a more permanent solution. Ticks prefer to remain within 50 feet of your pet’s favorite resting area for an easy meal. Clean and treat all the cool, shady spots in your yard. These are the spaces under the porches, along with the fence line, and beneath low-hanging shrubs. Always treat dog runs or kennels.
7. Mow your grass to the right height
Keep the grass in your yard mowed to the right height. Ticks prefer to stay under the shade and moist areas. Having your grass at the right height will keep it exposed to the sun and will repel ticks. This will also make them vulnerable to the insect eating birds. What is the right height? It depends on the grass and your region, but most lawn experts suggest keeping your lawn between 2-3 inches is about right. The shorter the better when it comes to ticks, but then again a shorter lawn will put more stress on the grass. 2-3 inches is a good average.
8. Geranium-Lemongrass Oil
Worth a try. Nothing is better in this world than using natural organic blends to fight the natural parasite. In this way, you don’t do any damage to nature, and your job of protecting your home, family and pets gets done. What’s problematic with the common and regular use of aerosols is that they constantly deteriorate our environment and by using this natural blend you can not only get rid of the threat of ticks but can do your part to help conserve of the environment. A combination of geranium and lemongrass oil is considered to repel ticks completely. All you need to do is put 2-3 drops of these oils in a container of water and mix the blend well. Spray the blend in your yard and lawn, and make sure to pay special attention to corners in order to keep the ticks away.
By strictly following these eight different methods, you can eliminate the ticks from your yard. However, continued proper maintenance of the yard is very important. Make sure you clean your yard every second week and make sure the grass regularly mowed to the right height. Finally, even if you follow these rules in your yard, play it safe and make sure you take steps to prevent ticks in your pets and always check yourself after playing or working outside!