There are many types of ticks found in the United States. This article will give some brief information about some of these species but will not discuss them in any great detail. The main intent of this discussion is to educate you on how to treat for local infestations. Ticks present some unique problems when trying to treat yards, pets and homes. Since some species of ticks can transmit disease through their parasitic behavior, reducing levels in and around the home is needed. After reading the following article, you will know the best material to use for combating this pest in the yard and in the home.
TICK BIOLOGY ^
Ticks are in the arachnid family. They generally develop from eggs to nymphs to adults. Some take a few molts to become adults; others become adults quicker. Nymphs have 6 legs, adults have 8. All are blood sucking depending on blood for food. Once fed, nymphs will grow and molt to adults. Some species of adults need to get another meal or two before they are able to breed and lay eggs. Although there are many species named after specific animals, most ticks are able to feed on just about any animal which has blood. In other words, brown dog ticks can feed on people. Deer ticks can feed on dogs. Bat ticks love rats. The point is that they will take advantage of whatever food supply is readily available so be aware that any infestation of this family of pests is not acceptable.
TICK TYPES ^
Ticks are broken down to two main types. These are referred to as either Hard or Soft ticks. Hard ticks, as the name implies, have a body which resembles a seed. It’s mouth parts are clearly visible. Soft ticks have a body which cover their entire head. Nothing can be seen other than some legs sticking out their sides when viewed from above. Hard ticks go through one nymph stage before becoming adults; soft ticks go through many stages. Hard ticks will feed once as a nymph and then again as an adult. Soft ticks will feed periodically through their nymphal stages which could be as many as 8. Ticks can also be categorized by the number of times they feed. Some are single host feeders, some two host feeders and then others are three host feeders. Most of the significant ticks in the United States can be categorized as three host feeders and hard ticks.
Fowl ticks are soft ticks and generally not a problem for people. They live on birds and from time to time find their way into homes. This happens where birds are kept in large numbers or where birds have been living and then are removed leaving behind hungry ticks seeking food. Known also as “chicken ticks”, “adobe ticks” or “blue bugs”, these ticks are largely active at night. During the day they will live amongst the cracks and crevices out of sight.
Bat ticks are very specific to bats and will invade a home following bat exclusion. If the bats were living in your attic and have been screened out, it is not uncommon to have an invasion of ticks. These were living on the bats nesting in cracks and crevices found in the woodwork of your home. Once their food supply left, they will be faced with having to forage for a new food supply which leads to large numbers getting into the living area of the upstairs of many homes around the country.
Brown dog ticks are amongst the more economical ticks found in our country. The young nymphs are often referred to as “seed ticks” when found on pets in the spring because they resemble poppy seeds. These ticks are active from spring through summer generally feeding once a developing stage. Brown dog ticks are most likely to find their way into the home via pets. They will cling to any part of a dog or cat but tend to find their way around ears, eyes and paws. Engorged females are capable of laying thousands of eggs. These eggs will find their way to where ever the pet travels. It is not unusual to have ticks living in crawl spaces if you allowed access by your pet which has now been found to have ticks on it.
TICK LIFE CYCLE ^
Like fleas, eggs will fall off it as it moves around which means eggs can find their way to beds, furniture and other areas of the home. The young which emerge from the eggs are quick to feed but are able to wait almost a year without food. This amazing feature allows it to thrive even if it can’t find a host when newly hatched. In fact, because of this ability to wait long periods of time without feeding, brown dog ticks can take over a year to fully develop. However, most find food and can reach maturity in under three months. If feeding occurs in the home, ticks which are developing in the south can complete up to 4 generations a year. Because they lay so many eggs and because eggs develop based on food supply, brown dog ticks are a major problem throughout the United States and are the most likely to infest a home. There are many diseases these ticks can transmit including tick paralysis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, human babesiosis and human ehrlichiosis just to name a few.
The groundhog tick is most common in the northeastern part of the country and is worth noting because of its increase in population. These ticks thrive on woodchucks but will readily bite man. It is known to transmit Powassan encephalitis which is both painful and debilitating. This virus has been found in many other animals including raccoon, squirrel, chipmunks, rabbit and skunk. Ground hog ticks are feeding on many types of animals and as we come in close contact with these animals in our urban neighborhoods, we are subject to more and more of unwanted exposures. (Be sure to read our in depth articles on controlling all of these animals around your home which will allow you to keep tick populations down. These articles can be found in our article archive section.) Summer cottages and weekend getaways are becoming infested with these pests because of certain animals which are living in and around the homes. As the tick populations grow, they find their way into the home and eventually onto the people living there.
The wood tick is probably the most commonly thought of tick because of it’s relation to lyme disease. There are many names for this tick depending on which part of the country you live. Though slightly different from each other, they are similar in their habits. The species of wood ticks we have include the Rocky Mountain spotted fever tick, the lone star tick, the black legged tick, the American dog tick and the brown dog tick. Though lyme disease was thought to be transmitted by this type of tick, it was eventually learned that the deer tick (known as the bear tick in the mid-west) was actually a variant of the already known black legged tick. It is found throughout much of the United States so it is possible every one of the lower 48 states has a tick carrying the disease. However, there are some states which don’t record any incidence of it annually. This doesn’t rule out widespread existence; in fact, the states with the most people and tourism are most likely to get the most cases diagnosed and reported annually.
The white footed mouse plays a significant role in the development of the disease as well so areas where this mouse is found are likely to have more lyme disease. These ticks will feed on different hosts if needed, so deer and other animals are able to carry egg laying adults to areas where new born nymphs will be able to find people. Due to the numbers of nymphs born each season and the fact they are found close to people, contact and bites are sure to happen. If you suspect you have been bitten by a tick which may transmit lyme disease, have a doctor look at it. Early treatment is key to preventing the pain and long term suffering associated with advanced cases. And if you have ticks in your region and want to keep their numbers under control, there are several things which can be done. First, start with the outside. If you have ticks in the home or on the pet, there are more treatments which will be needed. Lets take a look at some of these treatments and the products needed to control this pest.
TICK LAWN GRANULES ^
If you want a strong residual and longer protection than the Tick Repellent, apply some DELTA GUARD GRANULES instead. These low odor slow release granules will repel but they also kill off many common pests. They need to be activated by water, but rain and sprinklers won’t wash them away quickly. They are designed to withstand normal patterns of rain so expect them to last 2-3 months per application. Apply them with a GRANULE SPREADER to get good distribution. If you are wanting to keep local populations from developing, treat in the spring and then again in the summer. This should stop them from getting a stronghold on your property.
TICK SPRAY ^
If you already have ticks active, first apply the granules and then spray with BIFEN over the top. Use a HOSE END SPRAYER to get proper coverage. Bifen can last a month or more and will kill existing ticks quickly. Be sure to spray all the vegetation you think they may be active on. Ticks have a tendency to climb up vines, shrubs, branches of young trees and bushes and just about anything which is up to 5 feet high. Once they climb these plants they will sit at the end of the limb in wait of something with blood to pass close enough for them to hitch a ride. Unlike fleas and other pests which are down deep in thatch and at ground level, ticks will be up off the ground. This doesn’t mean you should avoid treating these areas, it simply means you need to treat above them as well.
If you have found ticks in the home and suspect you have active nymphs or adults, treat with ESFENVALERATE. This active ingredient is both odorless and easy to use. It is labeled for use on all pet resting areas including rugs, carpeting, bedding and other furniture. Apply Esfenvalerate with a PUMP SPRAYER using a spray tip which puts out a wide swath which will cover large areas as you spray.
Conquer Esfenvalerate: https://bugspray.com/catalog/insecticide/liquid/conquer-esfenvalerate
Pump Sprayer: https://bugspray.com/good/pump-sprayers
TICK AEROSOL SPRAY ^
Though very effective, dusts can be too messy for some living areas so the use of an aerosol like DFORCE AEROSOL may be better suited. Dforce is low odor and comes with a crack and crevice tip for injecting the material where it needs to be applied. Be thorough with your application. Dforce will kill existing ticks quickly, but you may need to treat again if there are a lot of eggs which hatch in a few weeks.
TICK CONTROL FOR PETS ^
If the pet is found with ticks on them, you will need to treat it. This treatment needs to kill existing ticks as well as help to prevent new ones from climbing aboard. Though outside treatments will help to keep populations down, it is difficult to treat every location and sometimes impossible to keep your pet from accessing remote areas deep in the woods or where are not treating.
For this reason it is good to use a preventive material on them. PETCOR is a ready to use formulation largely used for flea control but one that works great for ticks. Simply spray the pet’s fur every couple of weeks when ticks are most active. This will help to keep your pet tick free.
TICK REPELLENT FOR THE SKIN ^
For added protection, treat any exposed skin with either BUG OFF AEROSOL or DEET LOTION. Both of these products will work well at keeping the ticks away. The aerosol is handy and convenient; the lotion will last longer and provides some sun block which may be needed when going afield.
Deet 20% Lotion: https://bugspray.com/repellents/liquid/deet-20-lotion-6-oz
HOW TO REMOVE EMBEDDED TICKS ^
If you are finding ticks on yourself or your pet, use a TICK REMOVER which does a good job of getting out all parts. People will commonly pull a tick when it has its head embedded under the skin. This should be avoided since the tick will break apart. However, leaving the tick is not acceptable either. The Tick Remover allows you to remove the tick without breaking it apart and it is small enough to carry afield or keep in first aid kits.
Ticks are vectors of many diseases. In the wild they feed on just about any animal but will choose a pet or person when available. Control outside populations with Delta Guard Granules and Bifen. Use Esfenvalerate inside if you find them in the home. Drione should be used on cement surfaces, crawl spaces and attics. Dforce aerosol is great for treating cracks and crevices where certain species like to nest. If the pet is constantly getting ticks when it goes outside or if you are picking some up when gardening, hunting or hiking, use Permethrin on your clothes or on the pet. It is more economical than Petcor to apply on a regular basis.
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