Ticks and Identification
Ticks seem to be a growing problem in the United States and in the Tennessee Kentucky region. There are a number of tick species in the United States but will discuss four species of concern for the region listed above.
Ticks are blood feeding arthropods but are not insects. They have two body regions and they usually have four pairs of legs. Furthermore, the life stages of a tick are the egg, larva, nymph and adult. the larva stage has only three pairs of legs and are often called seed ticks. the tick’s spear like mouth part is barbed that makes it harder to remove the tick while feeding. Ticks can vector diseases that affect humans and animals. Examples are: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, encephalitis, tularemia and Lyme disease.
Common Identified Types
American Dog Tick
The American dog tick gets its common name from the fact it is only found in North America and it’s preferred hose is the domestic dog. These will feed on a number of animals including rodent, rabbits, squirrels, raccoon and a number of other animals. It does not do well indoors. It is about 3/16 inch long when not engorged. The unfed adult is oval, flattened, brown with a whitish silvery marking on it’s back. Nymphs and adults will crawl up on high grasses and low vegetation to drop off on passing animals. Life stages can survive winter weather and survive for very long periods of time without feeding. They are a disease vector for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and can cause paralysis.
Brown Dog Tick
The brown dog tick gets its common name from it’s reddish brown color and for being commonly found on dogs. It is found throughout the United States and is commonly encountered indoors feeding on dogs, rarely attacks humans but will if no dogs around. The adults are about 1/8 inch unfed, larger when engorged. Reddish brown in color that turns to gray when engorged. After feeding and for egg laying, they will climb indoor walls and move into crack and crevices. Indoor treatments, sanitation and veterinarian treatments for dog is required for control.
Lone Star Tick
The lone star tick gets it name from the single silvery spot on the back of the females. They will readily attack humans. It is about 1/8 inch long and oval when unfed growing up to 7/16 inch long when engorged. Life stages can over winter and continue in spring. Does not survive indoors, but can be brought in by a person or a pet. Vector for tularemia, paralysis, ehrlichiosis and other transmitted diseases.
The black-legged tick gets its common name from its dark legs that on in contrast to its lighter paler orange brown color. These are becoming more common in the region when compared to the past. This is an important pest due to its ability to be a vector for Lyme disease. They can have up to a four year life cycle depending on the availability of preferred hosts. Its preferred hosts are the white-footed mouse and deer. They will crawl up on tall grasses and shrubs and far on animals as they move by. The nests of the white footed mouse will also harbor ticks. Keeping yard and shrubs trimmed will keep populations down. Wear light color clothes and use an insect repellant when traveling in tick infested areas. Inspect clothes and body after hikes or walks.
- Black-legged ticks are the most common vector of Lymne Disease in the eastern United States
- Some tick life stages can survive over a year unfed
- Ticks require a blood meal to progress to the next life stage
Inspection: always do an examination of clothes and hair after foot travel in tick areas. Inspect your pets especially dog for feeding ticks. Keep grass and scrubs trimmed back to help reduce tick staging areas. Preventative veterinarian treatments may be needed for pets Tropical treatments of yard areas may be required by a pest management professional.