Species Spotlight: Deer Tick

Did you know there are 90 species of tick in the United States and roughly 850 worldwide? With many of these species being vectors for diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, knowing how to prevent ticks around your home is crucial.To be able to understand and practice proper tick control, it is important to educate yourself on these arachnids. Knowing how they spread disease, where they live, how they find hosts, and more is vital for protecting yourself and your family from ticks.

One of the most common species of ticks in the United States is the Ixodes scapularis, also known as the blacklegged tick and commonly referred to as the deer tick. Read on for more important information about this species of tick:

Where do ticks live?

Blacklegged or deer ticks usually inhabit the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, or north-central areas of the United States.

How long do ticks live?

Like most other tick species, the deer tick goes through four stages throughout its life: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged larva, and adult. This entire life cycle usually lasts around two years. The deer tick is most likely to bite humans as a nymph and as an adult female.

Are ticks dangerous to humans?

There are several tick species that spread disease to humans, and the deer tick is one of them. Diseases transmitted by these ticks include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, B. miyamotoi disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus disease. Some of these illnesses are serious and can even result in death. Humans are considered “accidental hosts” for these ticks, as they prefer to feed on large animals.

Are ticks dangerous to animals?

As their name suggests, the deer tick’s preferred host is a deer. When an infected deer tick feeds on a deer, however, the host animal usually does not become infected with the disease.

When are they active?

Deer ticks in the adult stage of life are typically active October through May. However, they may be active for longer or shorter periods of time, depending on the weather. As long as temperatures outside stay above freezing, there is a chance these ticks are active.

How do they find their hosts?

Because they cannot fly or jump, ticks rely on other methods of finding hosts. The majority of ticks find their hosts through a process known as “questing.” When a tick is questing, it holds onto a leaf or blade of grass with one pair of legs and waits with another pair of legs outstretched. When a potential host walks by, the tick then latches onto it. These arachnids usually quest at knee-height. Deer ticks prefer large hosts such as white-tail deer or other mammals.

What do they look like?

Deer ticks are known for having a brownish color but can sometimes be more reddish or rust colored. Adult male deer ticks are usually smaller than females and brown in color, while adult females are bigger and can vary from red to brown.

How do I protect myself from deer ticks?

As with all ticks, there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your family from deer ticks. Some common tick control methods include:

  • Clearing your yard of leaf litter
  • Mowing your lawn often and keeping grass/bushes short
  • Keeping playground equipment away from trees and yard edges
  • Stacking wood in dry areas
  • Hire a professional tick control company

Ticks are not only a nuisance but also health risk to you and your family. A key component of keeping your life tick-free is hiring a professional pest control company. At Mosquito Authority, we offer tick control services with no contracts and no commitments to ensure your family is safe from ticks and the diseases they carry.

To find your local tick control company, click here.

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