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Ticks and Their Diseases

Ticks and Their Diseases

One of the pests that we always have phone calls about are ticks. These little blood suckers are not well known and they can strike fear for a homeowner when they are discovered attached to a human host. The more information we know about these pests the better prepared we can be to protect ourselves from being bitten and to prevent ticks from living in and around our homes.

Ticks go through four stages of development: egg, larval, nymph, and adults. Eggs are deposited en mass (can be in the 1000’s) in a secluded area, like in a crevice or in leaf litter. When the larval stage emerges it will have 6 legs and will be tiny in size (about the size of a poppy seed). The larval, nymph, and adult stages of the tick all will feed on an animal and must have blood meals to survive. This is where the problem occurs and germs are transmitted. Some of the common tick borne diseases are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease . Both of these diseases can have a serious health effect on humans and are found in North Carolina.

Common Ticks Found In North Carolina

American dog tick

The American Dog Tick lives along paths, parks, pastures, and other grassy/shrubby habitats in both rural and suburban areas of North Carolina. Each stage of this tick can feed on different animals with the adult preferring humans and dogs as hosts. The American Dog Tick transmits Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever but does not transmit Lyme disease. 

brown dog tick The Brown Dog Tick occurs throughout North Carolina and can be active all year long. They are prevalent in homes, foundations, and in pet kennels. Within a few weeks of infestation you can find several thousand larvae (seed ticks) on your furniture, climbing walls and curtains near your pets resting areas. The Brown Dog Tick prefers dogs over humans and can complete its entire life cycle indoors. This tick can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever however, it would typically not attack humans since its preference is for canines. 

Lonestar tickLone Star Tick:  The female Lone Star Tick is easily identified by here white colored spot on her back. This tick is abundant in the spring and summer months. In the larvae stage, the seed ticks are very numerous in the fall and will readily attack humans. This tick can cause a disease called STARI (Southern Tick Associated Rash Infection) which creates a rash similar to that seen in Lyme Disease. 

 black-legged tickThe Black-Legged Tick or Deer Tick: The Black-legged Tick's early stages will feed on smaller animals such as lizards and small mammals. The older ticks prefer larger animals like dogs and deer. These ticks are active in the late fall, early spring, and in the winter when the temperature gets above freezing. 

Tick Identification Chart:

Tick Prevention:  With most ticks the prevention is the same. Get rid of debris and leaf litter. Keep pet areas clean and prevent areas where the tick can lay her eggs and remove the tick’s habitat. Pets should be treated with the proper flea and tick repellent as necessary. Treatment around yard and pet areas may be necessary. Always follow the insecticide label closely or have the area evaluated and treated by a Raleigh pest control professional. 

If a tick is found on the skin, follow the recommendation of the National Pest Management Association:  “If a tick is found on the body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. Once the tick is removed, thoroughly clean the bite site with soap and water. Then, flush the tick down the toilet or wrap it in a tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.”