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TICK        BACKGROUND    BIOLOGY    BEHAVIOR

 

American Dog TickBrown Dog TickBlack Legged Deer Tick



BACKGROUND

  • Ticks don’t fly, jump or blow around with the wind.
  • Lyme disease (borreliosis) was first observed in the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where it was believed to be a type of juvenile arthritis.
  • It is possible to catch multiple diseases from a single tick bite.
  • Interesting fact: One of the CDC’s tularemia prevention recommendations is not to mow over sick or dead animals!
  • For attached ticks, remove them by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible using tweezers or forceps and pull straight back. Do not squeeze the tick’s engorged body if at all possible.
  • Using a hot match, petroleum jelly, alcohol or fingernail polish are not effective means of removing a tick. Rather, they will increase the likelihood of disease transmission.
  • When a tick is removed it should be kept in a container just in case an illness develops. 

BIOLOGY:

  • Ticks are not insects. They are closely related to spiders and mites. Adult ticks have eight legs, immature larvae (seed ticks) have six.
  • All ticks feed on the blood of animals.
  • There are two main groups of ticks: Hard tick and soft ticks. Hard ticks have a scutum or hard "shield" on their back. Soft ticks have no scutum. Most ticks are hard ticks.
  • Of the over 850 tick species worldwide, roughly 10% can transmit diseases to people.
  • In the United States, tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, Tularemia, Anaplasmosis, Colorado Tick Fever, Powassan Encephalitis and Q Fever.
  • Tick species to be aware of in Florida: the Deer tick (Blacklegged tick), American dog tick, Brown dog tick and Lone Star tick.
  • The Brown dog tick rarely bites people, but will feed on dogs and is commonly the source of structural infestations.
  • The American dog tick feeds off a wide variety of animals, including people, but rarely will infest homes.
  • Ticks have four life stages: Egg, larva, nymph and adult.
  • Some female ticks can lay egg masses containing upwards of 6,500 eggs! After laying her egg mass, the female tick dies.
  • Ticks, like other Arachnids, have two body segments (a cephalothorax and abdomen), but they are fused together.
  • The head of the tick is called a capitulum. On the capitulum are barbed mouthparts that imbed in the host while the tick is feeding.
  • To further anchor it to its host, the tick secretes a cement-type substance from its mouthparts as it feeds.

BEHAVIOR:

  • Most ticks seek hosts by climbing up vegetation (usually no more than 3 feet) and sitting with their front legs extended (questing). They then wait for a host to walk by and hitch a ride.
  • Ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide, heat, movement and odors of their hosts.
  • Reduce brush and leaf litter where ticks may hang out. Keep grass mowed.
  • For homes that are close to a wooded area that may harbor ticks, create a cleared buffer zone of gravel or mulch to separate that area from the home and yard.
  • Have pets placed on a tick prevention program through a veterinarian.
  • Keep wild animals that may be carrying ticks from entering the yard by installing fencing or other physical barriers.
  • When walking outdoors, remain on wide clear trails and avoid walking through high grass whenever possible. Wear long pants, and tuck them into your socks to prevent ticks from crawling under your clothes.
  • To repel ticks, certain products containing 20% or more DEET can be applied to the skin. Always remember to follow the labeled instructions for any control product you use!
  • Wear light colored clothing when in a tick-infested area. If ticks do climb on you, they can be easily seen and removed.
  • After being in an area of tick activity, check your entire body carefully. Immature ticks can be as small as a freckle.
  • Indoor infestations of ticks can become extreme due to their reproductive potential and secretive behavior. Females can lay egg masses containing thousands of eggs! Because they like to hide, an infestation may not be noticeable until the population has significantly increased.


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