Ticks are dangerous pests that can harm both humans and animals. Lyme disease, which is transmitted by deer ticks is particularly threatening for humans because it is hard to diagnose at first and it can have devastating effects (most of which are chronic) like memory problems, chronic fatigue, and joint pain.
Just like in any conflict, understanding your enemy is half the battle won. Understanding the tick’s behavior, habits, habitat, feeding requirements, and host preference can help you avoid them. There are two main types within the tick family, namely the soft-shell and the hard-shell.
The soft-shell tick does not really show aggressive tendencies. It prefers to remain attached to a single host and feed in short sessions, especially at night, and usually less than an hour. Actually, they act similarly to bed bugs in terms of feeding habits and avoid venturing far from their nest.
Hard-shell ticks, on the other hand, like to move from one host to another in search of a longer and more satisfying meal that can last for a few days and even a week. This is a method called questing and it is common to their web-building spider relatives.
A hard-shell tick waits for the prey to arrive, then extends its front legs in the air and latches onto the unsuspecting host passing by. They do not jump or fly, but simply wait for the prey to arrive.
Interestingly enough, ticks are perceptive pests. They can detect body odor, breath, moisture, heat, and vibrations. Hard-shell ticks use these abilities in their questing in order to identify the most appropriate place to wait for an approaching host.
Well, we’ll be honest with you – getting a tick is quite easy. It is finding and removing it that can cause issues. Ticks prefer warm and humid areas.
They can also be found in areas with tall grass and a lot of wood. Basically, each time you go out camping, you can encounter these pests.
It is enough to walk through grass or brush a tree log in order to get one on you. Ticks can hitch a ride home on your clothes, hair, and on your pets as well.
Common Types of Ticks
The most dangerous types of ticks are the hard-shelled ones. They are also known as three host ticks since they require a blood meal for each of their life stages. A tick’s life cycle can be extensive, ranging from 90 days to three years. You should know what the most common species of hard-shell ticks are.
The American Dog Tick, also known as the Wood Tick, prefers to target dogs. Humans are only the second choice, but they will not eliminate this possibility when needing to feed. This species is 5 mm long and can get to 15 mm when filled with blood.
They have a reddish-brown color and can be found especially in the Rocky Mountains. They are responsible for transmitting the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as tularemia.
Found in the forests of the northeastern parts of the United States, the blacklegged tick otherwise known as the deer tick attaches itself to its favorite host, the white-tailed deer. The adult females are known to be aggressive.
This species does not have eyes, and it can measure from 3mm to 10mm. The blacklegged tick is dark brown or black and can transmit Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis.
The brown dog tick can often be found near homes, animals’ pens, or kennels, and it is one of the most common species in the world. Due to its prevalence, homeowners, as well as pet owners, should be on guard against this type, as it prefers spending its entire life cycle indoors.
The brown dog tick is brown, and it can measure from 3mm to 12mm. It may carry the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to dogs, and very rarely to humans.
There is a wide range of potential hosts when it comes to the gulf coast tick which can include rodents, birds, livestock and even humans. This species is quite large, as it is 6mm long unfed, and it has a reddish-brown color with light streaks. It is representative for the Gulf Coast states and the Atlantic coast, and it can spread various types of spotted fever.
Getting Rid of Ticks
As you can see, there are many species of ticks, and no matter how you look at it, they are all dangerous. In order to keep your family and pets safe, you should know how to get rid of these pests.
The best way to treat anything is to prevent it from happening. There are various ways through which you could avoid becoming a host for these parasites. One of them is to keep your skin covered. If you are out on a trip where you know there might be ticks, wear long pants and sleeves.
Use tick repellents! There are various types of repellents available, starting from spays to collars or bracelets. Tick-repellent collars are also recommended for dogs. And speaking about dogs, it might be a good idea to contact your vet and ask about tick-repellent formulas that are available on the market.
Protecting only yourself, or your family is not enough, especially if you live in a house and have a yard. There are two very simple actions which can discourage these small pests from finding a home on your property.
One of them is to bag up and eliminate tall grasses and leaf litter around your house. The second one is to distribute wood chips or gravel between your yard and wooded areas. This way, you will create a buffer zone that will prevent ticks from entering.
Of course, you also have the option of contacting a specialized exterminator and see exactly what options you have. Just make sure that the formulas they use are not harmful to yourself or to your pets.