Many people have heard of ticks, but a lot of people still aren’t very familiar with them. Because ticks are not one of the most common pests to call an exterminator about, it’s rare that people will take the time to learn much about ticks. But not knowing about ticks can actually be a hazard because ticks can be a much more serious problem than most people expect. Even if you don’t see ticks in your home very often, they can still pose a risk to you and your family, so let’s take a few minutes and prepare to deal with ticks.
What Are Ticks and Why Are They a Problem?
Ticks are extremely small arachnids (but not spiders) that live as parasites off of other animals, typically mammals. They hatch from their eggs as larvae, but as they feed, they molt into more mature stages until they are adults. In general, there are two groups of ticks: hard ticks, which have a shell or a shield on their bodies, and soft ticks, which do not have the hard shell.
The fact that ticks are parasitic is enough to consider them a problem, but the problem doesn’t stop there. Ticks are also major carriers of various diseases, many of which can be very harmful to humans and other mammals. Prevention is the best way to keep your family safe, but because ticks are so small, people often don’t even remember being bit by the tick in the first place.
Even though there are two general groups of ticks, there are actually hundreds of different species within those two groups. A few are more common than others, especially in the United States, so let’s get you familiar with these common ticks.
Common Types of Ticks
Brown Dog Tick
The tick you’re most likely to come into contact with in the United States is the brown dog tick. That’s not to say that it’s the most common tick, but it is the one that is most likely to end up inside of your home.
As the name suggests, brown dog ticks prefer to feed off of dogs more than anything else. You might be thinking that because your dog doesn’t go outside on its own much that it’s probably unlikely that has come into contact with these ticks. While it’s true that many ticks are primarily found outside of your home, brown dog ticks not only are more common in the home but also can live their entire life cycle inside a home.
This means but your sweet furbabies can pick up the ticks without ever leaving your house. And that also means that you and the rest of your family could also pick up these ticks without leaving your home.
Of all the ticks on this list, this is the type to call an exterminator for. If you or a family member finds one of these ticks on yourselves or on your pets, then you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible so they don’t continue to breed inside of your home.
Blacklegged ticks are more commonly found outside, like most ticks on this list. You can identify these ticks by their reddish bodies with black legs and a black shield on its back. You can find these ticks throughout most of the United States, and they’re most frequently picked up by humans when they’re outdoors hiking along trails or in areas with tall grass. These ticks will often go to the tips of long grass to try and climb onto a human or animal host.
Lone Star Tick
Lone star ticks a reddish-brown in color, and the females are easily identified because of a single white dot on her back, which is what gives the species the name lone star. These ticks can be found in a couple of different areas of the United States, but they’re most common in the Southern United States.
Lone star ticks, like other ticks, can spread disease to the hosts they bite. However lone star ticks can cause a unique reaction in their hosts. After being bitten by a lone star tick, some people have developed allergic reactions to red meat. Research on this is still relatively new, but these cases are recognized more and more as tracking of the condition has increased.
Pacific Coast Tick
The Pacific coast tick is a brownish tick mostly found on the west coast of the United States. It is also the most common tick found in California. This tick is known to transmit various diseases to humans so it’s an important one to avoid.
Even though its coloring isn’t very unique, its bite actually is. If someone didn’t feel the bite when it happened but found it on their body later, they might mistake it for the bite of a different insect or spider. This is because the appearance of the bite closely resembles the bites of these other pests and leaves more of a wound than some tick bites do.
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
Rocky Mountain wood ticks are also known to transmit various diseases to humans. They are brown in color and have a white-ish shield on their backs. They’re typically found on long grasses and like to feed on larger mammals. One thing that makes Rocky Mountain wood ticks unique is their longevity. These ticks are capable of going up to 600 days without eating, so they don’t easily die off. Its longevity helps them survive the hot summer months when they are less active and therefore less likely to feed.
Soft ticks, as previously mentioned, do not have the shield that hard ticks do have. Instead, these ticks look something like raisins with heads. While most hard ticks can feed on a host for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, soft ticks typically feed for only about 30 minutes so their bites are not always as noticeable.
Tick Prevention and Extermination
While calling an exterminator is a good way to help get rid of ticks, particularly brown dog ticks, for the most part, prevention is the best way to stay safe from ticks. To prevent tick bites, be wary of grassy areas outside. If your pets have been wandering outside, check them carefully before letting them back inside. And, if you’ve spent time outside camping or hiking, check your body afterward. Vigilance will be the best way to prevent problems with ticks.