Despite their tiny size, ticks can be a serious nuisance. Their bites result in discomfort and irritation, but ticks can also potentially transmit serious diseases to both animals and humans. That's why it's important to know how to identify ticks and prevent them from getting into your home. Read on for advice from the pros at MosquitoNix® in our Pest Library.
Ticks are quite small compared to other common bugs. At their largest, they are often no larger than 1 centimeter long, and tick larvae can be less than 1 millimeter in size. That makes them hard to spot before they're on you. Ticks can also vary in color according to their species; the most common types of ticks in the U.S. are typically dark brown or reddish. After a blood meal, a tick will become engorged and the body will take on a grey color.
They have eight legs at the adult stage, making them arachnids and not insects, and their bodies are oval shaped. Ticks feed on blood from mammals, reptiles and birds. Unlike other insects like mosquitoes that feed quickly from a host, a tick might feed over the course of several days, becoming engorged with blood.
During this time, a tick that is carrying a disease can transmit it to the host animal. The most common disease transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease. Ticks cannot fly or jump, but they sense potential hosts through body heat, body odor, breath, vibrations, moisture and shadows. They wait along pathways, gripping vegetation with their hindmost legs with the front legs outreached. Once a potential host comes near, they simply climb aboard and look for a good area of skin on which to feed.
Females ticks lay eggs after they've fully matured to adulthood, which takes about two years. They don't lay eggs on their hosts, as they need to detach in order to mate, but they'll lay them anywhere else, including in your carpets, clothes or furnishings. One female can lay thousands of eggs, and upon hatching ticks require a blood meal to survive through each of their stages: larva, nymph and adult. At the larva stage, ticks have six legs, but they develop eight legs by adulthood. Ticks generally prefer a new host for each meal, and many perish without completing the lifecycle because they cannot find a host. A successful tick has a full lifecycle of about three years.
There are hundreds of species of tick, and they are found on every continent, including Antarctica. Ticks tend to live in moist, heavily vegetated and wooded areas. Compost piles, leaf piles and overgrown parts of your yard are all common areas to find ticks.
Solutions for Ticks Around Your Home
If you feel a tick bite or see a tick on your body or the body of your pet, it does not necessarily mean you have an infestation. When ticks are found in the home, it is usually because a single tick has been brought in on a pet, a person or a piece of clothing. However, in some situations, ticks will thrive in a crawl space or attic by living on suitable hosts such as rodents that have made a nest there. Most ticks do not survive or reproduce indoors on their own, though there are some exceptions, like the brown dog tick.
Treating your yard for ticks can help keep them out of your home. If you have pets, they should also be treated for ticks each month to protect them and keep them from bringing ticks inside. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly in the woods or in heavily overgrown areas, wear long sleeves, pants and socks, and use an EPA-approved tick spray. Also, check your clothing carefully for ticks before coming indoors to keep from bringing ticks inside. Knowing how to get rid of ticks before they enter your home will help prevent an infestation.
If you find a tick, remove it carefully with tweezers to reduce the risk of infection. Don't crush the body of the tick as this may spread bacteria and disease. If you are having an adverse reaction to a bite, like fever or a rash, seek medical attention.
If you find more than one tick in your home, it should be cause for concern. Call our team of expert pest control specialists at MosquitoNix and we'll ensure that your home is tick-free once again. This can include both indoor and outdoor treatments on your property. By reducing the number of ticks in your yard, you're less likely to have one hitch a ride into the house. Learn more by getting a quote online today.