Ticks are not insects. They are arachnids belonging to the group – mites. They are bigger than all other mites and they are very important. There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world and they are capable of spreading more than 65 diseases, many of them serious. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and tularemia are a few. If someone made a list of the top ten most dangerous pests, ticks would be close to the top of the list. For some reason, they receive almost no attention compared to bed bugs which are absolutely harmless. Ticks mostly feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, but some species feed on reptiles. They can be found in lawns, yards with trees and shrubs and, occasionally, inside homes. They prefer the shaded areas of your yard.
If you find a tick imbedded in your pet or on another person or on yourself, do not yank it off. Gently pull the tick straight off with a pair of tweezers. You can also put some diatomaceous earth on the tick and it will come off by itself. Make sure you save the tick so you can get it identified. You want to know what diseases, if any, it can cause. Mark the date of your bite on a calendar and if you develop unusual symptoms in about two weeks, contact your medical professional.
When you have ticks in your yard, here is how to get control of them. Get a large piece of flannel cloth and tie it to a stick. Drag it through the entire yard slowly and pay particular attention to shady areas. Any ticks he drags the cloth over will get snagged. When you are done, put the cloth in a burn barrel and burn it or in a trash bag and seal it shut and take it to the dump. Then get some food grade diatomaceous earth and spread it all over the shady areas including along the sides of the house. Get some all along the foundation where there is dirt abutting the house. Then get some Vaseline and put some on all the outside window sills. If Vaseline is too messy you can use duct tape sticky side up. It takes 30 to 40 days for tick eggs to hatch, so you should repeat this entire process in a month and then again one month later. If ticks are in your house, you need to treat all the areas where they can hide. This would be behind baseboards, moldings, in furniture and carpets as well as around window sills. You can treat these areas with food-grade diatomaceous earth, baking soda, talcum powder or spray them with Greenbug for Indoors. All of these products will be safe for you and your family and pets but will kill the ticks.
Most of the ticks listed below are only found in the woods and remote areas and won’t infest your homes. I am listing them because they can be serious vectors of disease if you should encounter them.
Talaje soft ticks (Ornithodoros talaje)
Man, rodents, pigs, cattle, horses. Very painful bite. Found in Arizona & California & Nevada, NM. Medical: It can transmit tickborne relapsing fever in some areas
Herm’s soft ticks (Ornithodoros hermsi)
This tick if found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Medical: Primary vector of tickborne relapsing fever spirochetes in the area.
Relapsing fever ticks (Argasidae – Ornithodoros turicata)
It feeds on kangaroo rats, rabbits, sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, humans, rattlesnakes and turtles. It is found in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California. Medical: May produce intense irritation and swelling at bite site in humans. Also produces relapsing fever spirochetes.
Pajaorella ticks (Argasidae – Ornithodoros coriaceus)
This tick has a very painful bite. There are many tales about the seriousness of the bite and it is feared like a rattlesnake in parts of Mexico. It feeds on humans, deer and swallows.
Lone star ticks (Ixodidae – Amblyomma americanum)
The female Lone star tick has star-shaped marking on its back, hence its name.
They are found from Texas, through the south-central midwest states to the east coast.
Medical: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia and STARI (Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness).
Gulf coast ticks (Ixodidae – Amblyomma maculatum)
The larvae feed on birds and rodents, while the adults feed on deer and other large mammal. It is found along the Atlantic coast the Gulf of Mexico. Medical: It can transmit a form of Rocky Mountain spotted fever as well as canine hepatozoonosis
Rocky Mountain wood ticks (Ixodidae – Dermacentor andersoni)
Rocky Mountain wood tick immatures feed on rodents and rabbits. Adults feed on cattles, sheep, deer, humans and other large mammals. They are found from the western counties of Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from northern Arizona and northern New Mexico in the United States to British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in Canada. Medical: Rocky mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and tularemia.
Pacific coast ticks (Ixodidae – Dermacentor occidentalis)
Immatures feed on small mammals, adults feed on larger domestic animals, deer and humans. This tick is found in Oregon and California. Medical: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, bovine anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, 364D Rickettsiosis.
American dog ticks (Ixodidae – Dermacentor variabilis)
American dog tick immatures feed on small mammals, preferably rodents. Adults feed on domestic dogs and will readily bite humans. They are found throughout the eastern portion of the country as well as in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California. Medical: Rocky Mountain spotted fever pathogen and bacterium causing tularemia. It may cause canine paralysis and bovine anaplasmosis and tick paralysis.
Black-legged ticks (Ixodidae – Ixodes spp.)
The female black-legged tick is red and brown, while the male is much darker. They are also known as deer ticks and bear ticks. Immatures feed on various small mammals, birds and lizards. Adults feed on the large mammals such as deer, elk and bears. They will bite humans. The western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) is found in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. The eastern black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is found throughout much of the eastern United States. Medical: Both black-legged ticks can transmit Lyme disease as well as anasplasmosis and babesiosis
Brown dog ticks (Ixodidae – Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
Brown dog ticks are found worldwide, mostly in warmer areas. It is small and reddish-brown in color. Females can lay up to 5000 eggs, depending on the amount of blood consumed. Immatures feed on a variety of animals. Adults feed on domestic dogs and occasionally bite humans.
Medical: In dogs, it can transmit canine erhlichiosis and canine babesia. It has recently been identified as a reservoir for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the southwest.