Ticks

Common types of ticks

Ticks are a type of external parasite that feed on the blood of wildlife, domestic animals, and people. Ticks are a potentially very dangerous pest because they pose serious health concerns as they have the ability to carry and transmit disease a wide variety of diseases to people and pets. The three most common species of ticks found living in our area include the American dog tick, blacklegged tick (deer tick), and brown dog tick.

american dog tick crawling on the skin of a person

American Dog Ticks

Before having a blood meal American dog ticks are brownish-tan in color and have marbled white or yellow markings; after having a blood meal they turn a grayish-blue or olive green color. Their body is oval in shape but when full of blood they increase in size and become round in shape.

black legged deer tick crawling on the skin of a person near sarasota

Blacklegged Ticks (Deer Ticks)

Blacklegged ticks are a very small species of tick, they are a dark orange color and have distinctively darker, almost black colored legs. Before a meal, the adults are only about 1/8th of an inch in length, and after a meal, they become engorged and grow larger.

Do ticks bite?

Yes, ticks bite in order to pierce the skin of their host so that they can feed on their blood. Most tick bites are painless and result in redness and swelling.  Tick bites may develop into sores on the skin as well. 

Ticks use their specialized mouthparts to grasp the skin, pierce it, and insert a feeding tube to suck out the blood. They secrete a small amount of saliva with anesthetic properties in it during the feeding process in order to make the process painless.

Are ticks dangerous?

Yes, ticks are considered to be dangerous because of many diseases that they can spread to both people and animals. According to the Florida Department of Health, the blacklegged tick is responsible for spreading Lyme disease and babesiosis; and the American dog tick spreads Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  While brown dog ticks rarely cause health issues for humans, the website of the University of Florida notes that brown dog ticks spread diseases to dogs including canine ehrlichiosis and canine babesia.

How are ticks introduced?

Ticks are often introduced by rodents and other wildlife as they wander through. They’ll seek out tall grass, thick vegetation, and wooded areas where they’ll wait for a new host to wander by. 

Another way ticks arrive is on people and pets.  If you spend time in areas where ticks are likely to be (i.e. hiking trails and woods), you run the risk of bringing them home.

Tick prevention tips

In order to make your home, your family, and your pets less attractive to ticks, we recommend the following tick prevention tips:

  • Trim back wooded areas back away from your property line; place a stone barrier between any wooded areas and your property’s lawn.
  • Keep your lawn trimmed short; trim back any overgrown shrubs or bushes found on your property.
  • Remove bird feeders from your property that could attract wild animals to it.
  • Under the guidance of your pet’s veterinarian make sure that they are placed a year-round tick prevention medication.
  • Wear bug spray to repel ticks when you will be spending time outside.
  • When you are hiking or biking, make sure to stick to the path and avoid traveling through tall grasses and dense vegetation.

Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to avoid ticks when you’re outside. With that in mind, you should always check yourself, family members and pets for ticks before coming inside.

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