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What Are Ticks?

Ticks are small, arachnid creatures that belong to the class Arachnida, which also includes spiders and scorpions. They are ectothermic, which means that they do not produce their own body heat, and are typically found in wooded or grassy areas. Ticks feed on the blood of animals, including humans, and can transmit a variety of diseases through their bites. Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. They have eight legs as adults, unlike their six-legged immature stage. Ticks are known to be vectors of diseases, they can transmit pathogens that cause severe illness, like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick-borne relapsing fever, among others.

What Do Ticks Look Like?

Ticks are small, spider-like creatures that are found worldwide, ranging in size from less than a millimeter to several millimeters long, depending on their life stage. There are many different types of ticks, and their appearance can vary in size, shape and colour depending on the species, but generally will be small. 

Here are some general characteristics of ticks:

  • Size: Ticks range in size from about 1 to 5 mm in length, depending on their stage of development.
  • Shape: Ticks have a round or oval-shaped, flattened body with eight legs (as adults).
  • Color: Ticks are typically brown, reddish-brown, dark brown, or black in color, although some species may be lighter in color.
  • Mouthparts: Ticks have four pairs of legs and a small head with mouthparts that are adapted for biting and sucking blood from their hosts.
  • Antennae: Ticks do not have antennae.

To identify a tick, it is important to look for these physical characteristics. If you find a small, spider-like creature with a flattened body, four pairs of legs, and mouthparts adapted for biting, it is likely a tick. They have a hard exoskeleton and can be difficult to crush. The tick's head will appear flattened and will be the point where it attaches to the host for feeding. The body will be visibly segmented and in some species will be expanded when feeding. It may be helpful to compare the creature to pictures of ticks to confirm the identification. If you are unsure whether a creature is a tick, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider or a pest control professional.

Types Of Ticks

There are many different types of ticks, and they can be broadly divided into two main groups: hard ticks and soft ticks.

  1. Hard ticks (Ixodidae) are the most common type of tick, and include species such as the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), which is known to transmit Lyme disease, and the wood tick, also known as the American dog tick. Hard ticks have a hard shield, or scutum, on their back that covers their entire body. Another type of hard tick is the lone star tick.
  2. Soft ticks (Argasidae) are less common than hard ticks and have a more flattened body shape. They do not have a hard shield on their back, and their body is more leathery. Soft ticks typically feed more quickly than hard ticks and are less likely to transmit disease. An example of a soft tick is the brown dog tick.

Both types of ticks can transmit diseases if they are carrying an infection while they are biting a host. Although hard ticks are more common to carry disease, soft ticks can also carry pathogens, but not in the same number as hard ticks.

It's worth noting that different types of ticks can be found in different regions of the world, and some species are known to be more prevalent in certain areas.

Deer Ticks (Blacklegged Ticks)

Deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, are small arachnids that can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis to humans and animals. They are typically found in wooded or grassy areas and can attach to a person or animal when they brush against vegetation. Deer ticks are most active during the spring and summer months, and they are most commonly found in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central regions of the United States. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed, while nymphs (immature ticks) are about the size of a poppy seed.

Wood Ticks (American Dog Ticks)

Wood ticks, also known as dog ticks or American dog ticks, are a type of hard tick that can be found in wooded areas and grasslands throughout North America. They are typically larger than deer ticks, and adults can grow to be about the size of a sunflower seed. Wood ticks can also transmit diseases to humans and animals, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and tick paralysis. However, it's less common for these to transmit disease to humans than Deer Ticks.

They usually feed on large mammals such as humans, dogs, and deer, and they tend to be most active during the spring and early summer months. Wood ticks can also bite and transmit diseases to pets if they pick them up while they're out exploring. People who live in or visit wooded or grassy areas should take steps to protect themselves from tick bites, such as wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, and performing tick checks after spending time outdoors.

Lone Star Ticks

Lone Star ticks, also known as turkey ticks, are a type of tick found primarily in the southeastern and eastern parts of the United States, as well as some parts of the midwest. They are so named because of a small white spot or "lone star" on the back of the adult females. These ticks are known to be vectors for various diseases such as Ehrlichiosis, tularemia and STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness) which clinically resembles early Lyme disease.

Adult lone star ticks are about the size of a sesame seed, while nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. They are active during the warmer months of the year, typically from April to October. They can be found in wooded, grassy, and marshy areas, and they can bite both humans and animals, they are also known to be aggressive biters. To prevent tick bites, it's a good idea to wear protective clothing and use insect repellent when spending time in areas where these ticks are known to be present. If you find a tick attached to your skin, it's important to remove it promptly and properly to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Brown Dog Ticks

Brown dog ticks, also known as kennel ticks, are a type of tick that are found worldwide, but are more common in warmer regions. They are known to infest dogs and other canines, and their typical habitat is in and around houses. They can survive for a long time without a host, which makes them able to persist in kennels, houses and even indoors, as well as, they are known to reproduce indoors, where they can become a persistent pest.

Adult brown dog ticks are about the size of a sesame seed, while nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. They are reddish-brown in color, with a round body shape, unlike other tick species, they have no hard shields on the back. They can bite humans, but they prefer canines as their main host. They can transmit diseases such as Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, although these cases are rare. To prevent tick infestations, it is important to regularly check dogs for ticks and treat them if necessary, as well as vacuuming and treating areas where the ticks may be hiding.

Seed Ticks

The term "seed ticks" is commonly used to refer to the tiny immature stage of ticks, also called nymphs, which are smaller than adult ticks and can be as small as a pinhead or seed. They can be found in a variety of species of tick, such as deer ticks, wood ticks, and Lone Star ticks, among others. These ticks are especially hard to spot because of their small size, but they can still transmit diseases just as adult ticks can.

Seed ticks often feed on small mammals, birds, and reptiles, but they can also bite humans and pets. They are most active during spring and summer months, but can be present year-round, especially in warmer climates. They can be found in wooded, grassy, and marshy areas. They can attach to a person or animal when they brush against vegetation.

To prevent tick bites, it's a good idea to wear protective clothing and use insect repellent when spending time in areas where ticks are known to be present. Also, after spending time outdoors, it's important to perform tick checks and promptly remove any ticks that are found. Because of their small size, it is easy to miss seed ticks when performing tick checks, so it's important to be thorough.

How Do Ticks Transmit Disease?

Ticks transmit diseases to humans and animals through their bite. When a tick bites an animal or human, it injects its saliva into the host, which can contain various types of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. If the tick is carrying a pathogen, it can be transmitted to the host, potentially leading to the development of a disease.

The transmission of disease from ticks to humans and animals is known as vector-borne transmission. Ticks are considered to be vectors of disease because they transmit pathogens from one host to another. Ticks can become infected with pathogens by biting an infected host, and they can then transmit the pathogen to a new host when they bite again.

The transmission of disease from ticks to humans and animals is not always immediate. In some cases, it can take several hours or even days for the pathogen to be transmitted from the tick to the host. This is why it is important to remove ticks as soon as possible after they have bitten you, as it can reduce the risk of disease transmission.

What Diseases Do Ticks Transmit?

Ticks are known for their ability to transmit diseases to humans and animals. If you find a tick on your skin it is best to remove it as soon as possible, but it is important to note that not all ticks are carriers of disease and some species are not harmful to humans. 

Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases to humans, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick-borne relapsing fever. Other tick-borne illnesses include Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia and Powassan Disease. It's important to be aware of the risk of tick-borne diseases if you live in or are visiting an area where ticks are common, and to take precautions to avoid tick bites, such as wearing protective clothing and using tick repellents. If you are bitten by a tick and experience symptoms such as fever, headache, or muscle aches, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by ticks, specifically the blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick). It is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, and it is also found in other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever, chills, muscle and joint aches, and a characteristic rash known as erythema migrans. The rash is typically circular and red, and it may have a bull's-eye appearance. It is usually found at the site of the tick bite, but it can also appear on other parts of the body.

If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious complications, including neurological problems and cardiac issues. It can be treated with antibiotics, and most people who receive prompt treatment make a full recovery.

Lyme disease is preventable through the use of insect repellent, protective clothing, and by checking for ticks after outdoor activities. It is also important to remove ticks as soon as possible after they have bitten you, as this can reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by ticks, specifically the American dog tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick. It is most commonly found in the United States, but it has also been reported in other parts of the world, including Canada, Central and South America, and Africa.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever can include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that begins on the wrists and ankles and spreads to other parts of the body. The rash is typically pink or red and may be accompanied by bleeding and blistering.

If left untreated, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be deadly. It can be treated with antibiotics, and most people who receive prompt treatment make a full recovery.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is preventable through the use of insect repellent, protective clothing, and by checking for ticks after outdoor activities. It is also important to remove ticks as soon as possible after they have bitten you, as this can reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Tularemia

Tularemia is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by ticks, specifically the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the lone star tick. It is most commonly found in the United States, but it has also been reported in other parts of the world, including Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Symptoms of tularemia can include fever, chills, muscle aches, and a skin ulcer at the site of the tick bite. The ulcer is typically painful and may be accompanied by swelling and redness.

If left untreated, tularemia can cause serious complications, including respiratory problems and death. It can be treated with antibiotics, and most people who receive prompt treatment make a full recovery.

Tularemia is preventable through the use of insect repellent, protective clothing, and by checking for ticks after outdoor activities. It is also important to remove ticks as soon as possible after they have bitten you, as this can reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by ticks, specifically the lone star tick. It is most commonly found in the United States, but it has also been reported in other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia.

Symptoms of ehrlichiosis can include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash. The rash is typically pink or red and may be accompanied by bleeding and blistering.

If left untreated, ehrlichiosis can cause serious complications, including organ damage and death. It can be treated with antibiotics, and most people who receive prompt treatment make a full recovery.

Ehrlichiosis is preventable through the use of insect repellent, protective clothing, and by checking for ticks after outdoor activities. It is also important to remove ticks as soon as possible after they have bitten you, as this can reduce the risk of disease transmission

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection that is transmitted by ticks, specifically the European tick. It is most commonly found in Europe and Asia, but it has also been reported in other parts of the world, including the United States.

Symptoms of tick-borne encephalitis can include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash. The rash is typically pink or red and may be accompanied by bleeding and blistering. In severe cases, TBE can cause neurological problems, including meningitis and encephalitis.

If left untreated, TBE can cause serious complications, including neurological problems and death. It can be treated with antiviral medications, and most people who receive prompt treatment make a full recovery.

Tick-borne encephalitis is preventable through the use of insect repellent, protective clothing, and by checking for ticks after outdoor activities. It is also important to remove ticks as soon as possible after they have bitten you, as this can reduce the risk of disease transmission. Vaccines are also available for TBE in some countries.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a parasitic infection caused by the parasite Babesia, which is a type of microscopic protozoan that infects red blood cells. The infection is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick, particularly the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in northeastern and upper Midwestern regions of the United States, and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast, and also the Lone Star tick.

Symptoms of babesiosis can range from mild to severe and include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches, and a general feeling of illness (malaise). In some cases, the infected person may not have any symptoms at all. Severe babesiosis can lead to hemolytic anemia, which is a breakdown of red blood cells, and, in rare cases, can be fatal if not treated promptly.

People who are at higher risk of developing babesiosis include those with a weakened immune system, such as people with HIV/AIDS or people who have had a splenectomy, as well as those who have not been vaccinated against Lyme disease.

The diagnosis is made by detecting the parasite in a blood smear and by serological testing, the treatment typically involves a combination of antibiotics and antimalarials and it is crucial to identify and treat the infection as early as possible in order to avoid more serious complications.

Powassan Virus

Powassan virus (POWV) is a rare but potentially serious viral infection that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick, most commonly through the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the groundhog tick (Ixodes cookei) species in North America, but it can be also spread by other ticks like the Lone Star tick.

Symptoms of Powassan virus infection can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, it can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord). Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, and seizures, and in severe cases, it can lead to long-term neurological damage or even death. There is no specific treatment for Powassan virus infection, and the supportive care of symptoms is the best approach.

Powassan virus is considered a rare disease, and the risk of infection is low, however, it is important to take precautions to prevent tick bites, such as using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing when spending time in tick-infested areas. It is also important to remove ticks promptly and properly if one is found attached to your skin.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Tick Bites

There are several steps you can take to get rid of ticks and reduce the risk of tick bites:

  1. Keep your yard clean and well-maintained: Ticks thrive in areas with tall grass and brush, so it is important to keep your yard clean and well-maintained. Keep the grass trimmed short and remove any debris, such as leaves and branches.
  2. Use pesticides: Some pesticides can be effective at killing ticks in your yard. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label when using these products.
  3. Use tick repellents on your pets: If you have pets, use tick repellents on them to reduce the risk of ticks entering your home. There are a variety of tick repellents available, including topical treatments and collars.
  4. Check your pets for ticks: Regularly check your pets for ticks, especially after they have been outside. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it using fine-tipped tweezers.
  5. Keep ticks out of your home: Keep ticks out of your home by sealing cracks and crevices in the walls and foundations and by using screens on windows and doors.

What Steps Can I Take To Prevent Tick Bites?

There are several steps you can take to prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of getting a tick-borne illness:

  1. Avoid tick-infested areas: Ticks are most commonly found in areas with tall grass or brush, so it is best to avoid these areas when possible. If you must go into a tick-infested area, try to stay in the center of the trail to avoid coming into contact with grass and brush.
  2. Wear protective clothing: When you are in a tick-infested area, it is a good idea to wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants. Light-colored clothing can also be helpful, as it makes it easier to spot ticks.
  3. Use insect repellent: Insect repellents containing DEET or permethrin can be effective at preventing tick bites. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label when using these products.
  4. Check for ticks after outdoor activities: Ticks can be small and hard to spot, so it is important to check your body thoroughly after you have been outdoors. Pay particular attention to areas like the scalp, armpits, and groin, as these are common places for ticks to hide.
  5. Remove ticks as soon as possible: If you find a tick on your body, it is important to remove it as soon as possible. The longer a tick remains attached to your skin, the greater the risk of disease transmission. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out. Dispose of the tick properly and wash your hands with soap and water.

How To Remove Ticks Safely

To remove a tick safely, follow these steps:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers: Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible using fine-tipped tweezers. Avoid using your fingers, as this can increase the risk of infection.
  2. Pull the tick straight out: Slowly and steadily pull the tick straight out without twisting or jerking. Avoid squeezing the tick's body, as this can cause the tick to inject more of its saliva into the host, increasing the risk of disease transmission.
  3. Dispose of the tick properly: After removing the tick, dispose of it by placing it in a sealed container or bag. Wash your hands with soap and water to kill any remaining bacteria or viruses on your skin.

It is important to remove a tick as soon as possible after it has bitten you, as this can reduce the risk of disease transmission. If you are unable to remove the tick or if you develop symptoms after being bitten, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

What To Do If You Develop Symptoms After A Tick Bite

If you develop symptoms after being bitten by a tick, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Symptoms of tick-borne illness can vary depending on the type of infection, but they may include fever, chills, muscle aches, and a rash. If you have been bitten by a tick and are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away.

When you visit the healthcare provider, it is helpful to provide information about the tick bite and any potential exposure to ticks. This can help the provider determine the cause of your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with a tick-borne illness, it is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider. This may include taking antibiotics or antiviral medications as prescribed. Most people who receive prompt treatment make a full recovery.

It is also important to take steps to prevent future tick bites, such as using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and checking for ticks after outdoor activities. By taking these precautions, you can reduce your risk of getting a tick-borne illness in the future.

When To Hire A Tick Exterminator

You may want to consider calling a tick exterminator if you have a significant infestation of ticks in your yard or if you have been unable to get rid of the ticks using other methods. A tick exterminator is a professional who is trained in the effective control and removal of ticks from homes and yards.

An exterminator may use a variety of methods to get rid of ticks, including pesticides, tick tubes, and other tick control products. They may also provide recommendations for preventing future infestations, such as keeping the grass trimmed short and removing debris from the yard.

Overall, if you are unable to effectively get rid of ticks in your yard using other methods, or if you are concerned about the potential health risks of ticks, it may be worth calling a tick exterminator.

Tick Control Services

Miche Pest Control is a family owned and operated pest control company that provides residential and commercial tick control services in Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia, including Baltimore MD and the surrounding areas. Our expert tick exterminators get rid of tick infestations and work preventatively to keep ticks from coming back after they've been eliminated. Miche Pest Control has a 4.9 star rating and over 1,000 reviews online - call today or book online!

Tick Life Cycle

The tick life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The length of each stage varies depending on the species of tick and environmental conditions.

  1. The egg stage begins when the adult female tick lays eggs on the ground. She can lay thousands of eggs at one time.
  2. The larval stage begins when the eggs hatch into tiny, six-legged larvae. These larvae are about the size of a pinhead and have a simple mouthpart for feeding. After hatching, the larvae will seek out a host to feed on.
  3. After the larval stage, the tick molts into the nymph stage. Nymphs are similar in size to adults but with a lighter color. Nymphs also have six legs, and they will also seek out a host to feed on.
  4. The final stage is the adult stage. The adult tick is typically larger than the nymph and has eight legs. After feeding, the adult tick will mate and lay eggs, starting the cycle again.

The life cycle of the tick will also depend on the species of tick, while some tick species will take only a few months to complete the cycle, others may require two or three years. Also different species have different preferred host, some will mainly feed on birds, others on mammals and so on.

In What Habitats Can Ticks Be Found?

Ticks can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and even urban areas. They are most commonly found in areas with tall grass or brush, as these environments provide them with a suitable habitat in which to live and breed. Ticks are ectothermic, which means that they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. As a result, they are most active during the warmer months of the year, when temperatures are favorable for their survival. Ticks can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They are most commonly found in temperate regions of the world, but they can also be found in tropical and subtropical areas. Ticks can be found in a variety of different environments, including wooded areas, grasslands, and even urban areas.

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are a type of predatory pest that feed on the blood of humans and animals. Unlike many kinds of bugs found around residential homes, these creatures are classified as arachnids rather than insects. This was a classification determined through their eight legs, oval-shaped bodies, and certain biological functions.

There are four types of ticks commonly found around our local area: the American dog tick, the black legged tick, the brown dog tick, and the lone star tick. Each tick species may have some variance in its size, shape, and color, but they will be extremely easy to identify when latched onto the skin. Ticks will burrow their heads into flesh in order to gain access to the human nutrients they need to survive.

Are Ticks Dangerous?

A bite from a tick is an extremely dangerous prospect. Not only are there dozens of diseases associated with tick saliva, but many of them will require medical attention in order to be treated properly. Some illnesses may prove to be fatal in at-risk individuals, children, or older adults. Sicknesses such as Lyme disease may cause long-term weakness or chronic fatigue if not addressed immediately.

Why Do I Have A Tick Problem?

Infestations associated with ticks usually stem from an overgrowth of vegetation in the yard. Tall shrubbery and long patches of grass provide places for many tick species to hide and practice their questing behavior on passing people, pets, or wildlife species.

Ticks may be carried into the lawn via wildlife creatures such as rats, mice, deer, and other warm-blooded mammals. A previous infestation associated with wildlife creatures could be pointing towards a potential tick problem in or around the yard.

Where Will I Find Ticks?

You may find ticks in any outdoor area that maintains a large amount of overgrowth. This includes tall grasses, thick trees, and areas of leaf debris. It should be noted that ticks may drop off branches and other greenery while questing for prey. The tick's behavioral act of questing involves waving their arms into the air in hopes of grabbing onto a passing victim. While not always successful, this act significantly boosts a tick's chance to feed.

How Do I Get Rid Of Ticks?

Ticks may be extraordinarily difficult to remove around the property, especially once embedded. These arachnids are commonly chronic infestations that reoccur year after year. This is likely due to certain environmental factors, but it may also be due to repeating wildlife infestations.

The best method of removing ticks involves professional abatement and mitigation techniques. This process cannot be done using over-the-counter products or home remedies. To get started, contact the team at Miche Pest Control as soon as possible. Our team will be happy to review our process with you and schedule an initial visitation date to inspect the property. Once the scope and size of the infestation have been recorded, our team will begin regular abatement and mitigation treatments as soon as possible. Reach out to us online, over the phone, or in-person to get started.

How Can I Prevent Ticks In The future?

  • Keeping ticks out of the lawn for good should start with various means of prevention. Consider the following steps:
  • Keep the lawn well maintained by cutting, pruning, and trimming all necessary vegetation.
  • Install a rock border at least three feet wide around groupings of trees or boxwood bushes.
  • Have your pets treated with a flea and tick medication.
  • Inspect the home for wildlife infestations using the help of Miche Pest Control.

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