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TICK IDENTIFICATION & PREVENTION
Helping homes & businesses get clear of ticks
Ticks may be small but they sure are mighty. Parasites to humans and pets alike, ticks can be hard to find and even harder to remove. After a long hike or a day playing in the yard, it’s best to know how to spot a tick, what the possible health risks are if you have one on you or your pet, and how to remove one safely and correctly.
Hawx Pest Control can help you effectively rid your property of ticks. These insects enjoy warm humid climates and can wreak havoc at a home or business in the summer months.
What are ticks?
Ticks are both arachnids and parasites; human and animal blood is their sole food source. Due to the variety of mammal hosts they feed on, these pests pick up and transmit many diseases to both people and animals. Ticks have eight legs, no wings, and singular, oval-shaped bodies. After feeding, their bodies swell with blood and grow. Ticks have specialized mouthparts they use to penetrate their host’s skin, and insert a barbed, tube-like structure to anchor themselves and feed.
Due to the number of deadly diseases ticks spread to people and animals through their saliva while they are feeding, ticks are very dangerous pests to have living on your property. Diseases that ticks can spread include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and ehrlichiosis.
What do ticks look like?
Their colors span from black to brown to reddish brown, depending on the breed. This coloring makes them easier to spot on light-colored pets. The most common types of ticks vary depending on where you live. In the United States, dog ticks and deer ticks are often mentioned the most. Dog ticks can have white markings on their backs. Deer ticks, on the other hand, have longer mouth parts and smoother backs.
How long do ticks live?
Ticks can live anywhere between 3 months and 3 years, depending on the species. A tick can feed on its host for 3 to 10 days. Some ticks can live up to 2 years before they need to feed again.
Where do ticks live?
Ticks love ground-dwelling plants, especially long, tall grasses and bushes because they offer shade and are often moist. Ticks can’t run or jump, so they typically hang out on plants that give them closer access to a potential host.
Dog ticks are often found in the midwest and on Pacific coast in the U.S. They are most active during spring and summer. Female dog ticks are the most likely to bite. Deer ticks often live on the east coast of the U.S. and are most active in spring, summer, and fall seasons.
How do I check for ticks?
Self-checking is key for disease prevention and keeping your family safe. Some easy tips to remember when checking for ticks are:
- Wash and inspect any outdoor clothes and gear as soon as possible to see if any ticks have latched on
- Wash it on high heat to kill any ticks that may have escaped your preliminary inspection
- Take a bath or shower as soon as you get home to check yourself—kids may need extra help with this
- Common areas to check include belly buttons, ears, hair, behind the knees, around the waist, and between the legs
- Check your pets for any signs of ticks
- Keep in mind that if your pet has been treated with any medication for fleas and ticks, the tick might be on your pet without having fully latched, which means it could jump and latch onto you while you’re checking your pet
- Keep checking your pets and yourself for ticks a couple days after a big hike or time spent outside
- Ticks grow in size as they feed and become easier to see as they get bigger and fatter
What does a tick bite look like?
Tick bites aren’t very distinct; you’ll probably find the tick instead of only its bite. Once the tick is removed, the bite may get red and scab.
While itching and scratching are the most basic symptoms of a tick bite, some others include:
- Chills or fever
- Rashes (can also be a bulls-eye if Lyme Disease)
- Skin ulcers
How do I avoid tick bites?
While it may seem like ticks are everywhere during warmer times of the year, this is not entirely the case. They are avoidable if you know where they typically hang out and if you stay ahead of infection. Some prevention options you can consider if you plan to be enjoying the great outdoors include:
- Using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents (great options include DEET or lemon eucalyptus oil).
- Avoid walking in or near tall grasses
- Wear long pants, long shirts, and tall socks when hiking or playing outside
What diseases do ticks carry?
Even if a tick is a carrier of a disease, there is only a 50% chance or less that it will infect you with its bite, depending especially on the type of tick, the region you live, and the length of time of its latch.
For a non-exhaustive list of diseases ticks can carry, consider these potential ailments:
- Lyme Disease
- Colorado tick fever
- Powassan Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Why do I have a tick problem?
Ticks move onto properties on the backs of their hosts such as rodents and other wild animals. After falling off their host, they wait in tall grasses, thick vegetation, and in wooded areas for a new host to happen along that they will then latch onto.
Ticks live and breed outside. While they may find their way inside on the backs of our pets or our clothing, they won’t cause a large-scale infestation. Ticks are not able to complete their life cycle indoors. The females require damp soil to lay their eggs in. People and animals encounter ticks along the edge of ponds, wooded areas, and lakes. You’ll also find them in large numbers along road ditches, fence lines, and in our yards.
How can I prevent ticks in the future?
In addition to our professional services, the following prevention tips will help to keep ticks out of your home:
- Put your pets on a year-round tick control program under the guidance of their veterinarian.
- Remove dense vegetation and cut back overgrown shrubs and bushes.
- Keep your grass cut short.
- Cut wooded areas back away from your property line.
- Regularly vacuum your floors, especially in areas where your pet spends most of its time.
- Get rid of food sources for wild animals; remove bird feeders, keep lids on trash cans, and pick up uneaten pet food.
Eliminating ticks is a difficult task and a job that is best left up to trained and experienced professionals. For home and business owners looking to eliminate ticks, Hawx Pest Control offers comprehensive pest control services. Our industry-leading services use the latest techniques and best products to provide our customers with peace of mind and pest-free properties.
At Hawx, the most popular tick control option is a sprayed liquid barrier that we apply around the circumference of your home. For tick prevention in tall grasses, a granule treatment that has a similar effect as the liquid barrier is available.
No matter which option you choose, you can rest assured that your yard and family will be safe for many cookouts to come. Between the prevention tips we’ve shared, alongside the treatments for your yard, there’s less reason to worry about unwanted hitchhikers.