Ticks belong to a group of mites, and they are neither insects or spiders. They are smaller than a sunflower seed and vary greatly in color, being either brown, black, reddish-brown, yellowish, or grey, depending on the species. Ticks do not fly, jump, or fall from trees. Instead, ticks move at a slow pace. Ticks are not born with diseases; only ticks that have encountered bacteria, viruses, or parasites pose a health hazard. There are many species of ticks, but the most common ticks are American Dog Tick, Deer or Black-Legged Tick, and the Lone Star Tick.
Ticks Behavior, Diet & Habits
Ticks are commonly found near heavily vegetated areas, with or without moisture, such as in backyards, under leaves, around crevices and cracks of foundation, crawl spaces, or anywhere rodents or other small mammals are active. Ticks can enter homes by attaching themselves to clothing, pets, or people; therefore, it is important to check your kids for ticks and wash clothes immediately when they come inside from playing. Ticks feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles, and they do not care who the host is, as long as they are being fed. Ticks do not burrow themselves into the skin. Instead, only the mouth enters during the blood feeding.
There are four stages in a tick’s life-cycle — egg, larvae, nymph, and adult. The nymph is about the size of a poppy seed, while the adult tick can be as big as an apple seed. In all four stages, ticks feed off blood.
There are a variety of tick-borne diseases, but not all ticks carry diseases. Only ticks that have been infected with bacteria, viruses, or parasites present harm. The first sign of a tick is usually seeing the tick itself, then secondary signs include symptoms of bacteria or diseases transmitted by ticks. Also, only ticks in the nymph or adult phase are hazardous.
Tick Prevention & Treatment
Treatment for ticks is completely different than flea treatment. It is important to call your local pest control professional for an inspection and assistance in getting rid of ticks. Since ticks only stay around if there is a host, it is important to dispose of all empty bird and rodent nesting. Also, keeping your grass cut short can aid in decreasing the likelihood of an infestation.
What to do if there is a tick on you— using tweezers, carefully grasp behind the head and pull slowly away from the host’s skin. It is important to not squeeze or crush the tick when removing it because this can lead to more harmful fluids being released. Check to see if the mouthparts are completely removed from the wound, then thoroughly clean and disinfect the area. If you have secondary symptoms or medical concerns, please seek medical attention immediately.