Types of Ticks in Tennessee
If you’ve been camping, you’ve likely either seen a tick or had to remove a tick from your body. Ticks are parasitic pests that feed off the blood of mammalian hosts. Ticks aren’t just creepy bloodsuckers, though; they can carry a host of diseases. Many ticks can carry up to three diseases at a time that can be passed on to their host if they remain attached for long periods of time.
Most ticks have the same basic function and general characteristics, but where they differ is in the diseases they carry and the threat those diseases can pose to humans. The most common types of ticks found in Tennessee are the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain dog tick, and the lone star tick.
American Dog Ticks in Tennessee
The American dog tick is the best-known hard shell tick and is unique to North America. Within the United States, they are commonly found east of the Rocky Mountains and throughout parts of the west coast in the United States. Its habitats include forests, grassy open fields, and low-lying brush. However, they are most likely to search for a host in areas with high mammalian traffic, such as trails or roadsides.
Adult American dog ticks are generally found on dogs, hence the name, but they are just as happy feeding off of livestock and even humans. They are the common carrier for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the eastern part of the country and can transmit the disease in as little as two hours. They also carry tularemia, which can be fatal to humans if left untreated. In dogs, they can cause canine tick paralysis.
Deer Ticks in Tennessee
The deer tick, also known as the “black legged tick,” is responsible for more illnesses than any other tick in the United States. They are about the size of a sesame seed with a reddish brown body and black head markings. The deer tick is also the number-one carrier of the tick-borne Lyme disease that has since spread to southern states like Tennessee at an alarming rate. Without quick removal of the tick, Lyme disease symptoms can appear up to 32 days later and include shortness of breath, chest pains, and neurological malfunctions. The white-footed mouse is the preferred host of the deer tick.
Lone Star Ticks in Tennessee
The lone star tick is easily identified by the white mark on the back of the female and white bands along the edge of its shield on the males. Of all the common tick species found in Tennessee, the lone star tick is unique in that it can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, Heartland virus, and southern tick-associated rash illness, but it’s very rare that this tick will transmit Lyme disease. The lone star tick also carries the Alpha-gal protein that causes its host to develop an anaphylactic allergy to mammalian meat.
Managing Tick Populations on Your Property with U.S. Pest
The easiest way to manage tick populations on your property is to create an unattractive environment by removing tick harborage areas, detaching leaf litter and plant debris from landscaped areas, trimming tall grass and overhanging shrubs, maintaining wooded trails, and using wood-chip barriers. Remember that the more overgrown a wooded or grassy area is, the more places a tick has to hide.