Did you hear about the tick scientists recently discovered that lives on the moon? It’s a new bioluminescent bug that performs a strange dance any time there is a full moon. It’s called a “RAVING LUNA TICK!”
Joking aside, ticks are no joke! Hopper Termite & Pest take ticks and their potential threat very seriously. Ticks are mostly active during the summer, fall and spring months. When the weather gets warmer, humans and their pets are not the only ones eager to get outside. Ticks will be out in full force and can pose a significant health risk to humans and pets alike, spreading diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Here is everything you need to know about ticks in our area, how to prevent tick bites, and the dangers associated with these potentially dangerous pests.
TYPES OF TICKS
Blacklegged (Deer) Tick
The Blacklegged (Deer) Tick is named for its notorious dark legs and is sometimes referred to as a deer tick because it prefers to host on the white-tailed deer. Found throughout the northeastern, mid-atlantic, southeastern and northcentral United States, Blacklegged Ticks are known vectors of Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Human Babesiosis, Powassan Encephalitis, and more.
Blacklegged Ticks are a flat, broad oval shape and are typically orange-brown in color with darker legs. They have 6 legs when they hatch, but develop 8 legs as adults categorizing them as arachnids and are 1/8” long on average.
Blacklegged Ticks normally hide in grass and shrubs and wait for a passing host to latch on to. They can also be found in the den or nests of common hosts, such as skunks, raccoons, opossums, and rodents. These ticks prefer the nesting areas of the white-footed mouse because they are often in well-sheltered places such as underground, in tree stumps, old bird nests and woodpiles.
Blacklegged Ticks are vectors of Anaplasmosis, Lyme Disease and Human Babesiosis. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, headache, fatigue and a bull’s eye-shaped skin rash around the bite sight. If untreated, Lyme Disease can affect the joints, heart and nervous system. Blacklegged Ticks’ favorite feeding area on humans is at the back of the neck, making detection difficult if you have long hair. These ticks will typically crawl for up to 4 hours before they attach and have to then be attached for 6-8 hours before disease transmission occurs, so early detection and tick removal is key.
American Dog Tick
The American Dog Tick is named after its host of choice – the dog. These ticks are only found throughout North America and are a member of the hard tick family. American Dog Ticks are known vectors of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and exposure to these ticks is most common during spring and early summer.
American Dog Ticks are flat and oval in shape, and usually brown with whitish-gray markings. Similar to the Blacklegged Tick, these ticks have 6 legs as larvae but have 8 legs when they are adults. They range anywhere from 5 mm to 15 mm in size depending on whether or not they are engorged.
American Dog Ticks prefer grassy areas with low vegetation where larger animals commonly pass by and thrive in areas that are also accessible to humans. When these ticks latch on to dogs, they are brought into the home and can potentially be transferred to humans. American Dog Ticks are extremely resilient and are able to survive for 2-3 years without feeding.
American Dog Ticks are carriers of the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a serious tick-borne illness with a mortality rate of over 20 percent if not treated early. Symptoms include high fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, and sometimes a rash spread across the extremities 2-4 days after the fever begins. These ticks are also known vectors of Tularemia, a disease transmitted from rabbits, mice, squirrels and other small animals. Symptoms include an ulcer at the bite site, fever, chills and tender lymph nodes.
Brown Dog Tick
Similar to the American Dog Tick, the Brown Dog Tick is named for its preferred host. It is also named for its color. It is not common, but brown dog ticks will bite humans in the absence of a canine host.
As told by their name, Brown Dog Ticks are typically brown in color, but can become a gray and blue color when engorged. They are anywhere from 1/8” to 1/2” long and are oval-shaped and flat. Brown Dog Ticks, like the American Dog Tick, also have 6 legs as larvae and 8 as adults.
Brown Dog Ticks are unique from the other species of ticks because they are the only kind that can complete their entire life cycle indoors, as they survive best in warm, dry conditions. They prefer to host on dogs and usually attach to dogs’ ears or between the toes.
Brown Dog Ticks can be vectors of disease for dogs, transmitting tick-borne diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Canine Ehrlichiosis and Canine Babesia.
Lone Star Tick
Lone Star Ticks are named for their identifiable characteristic of a single spot located on the female’s back. Found mainly in the eastern and southeastern U.S., these ticks target humans more than any of the other tick species.
Lone Star Ticks are reddish brown and become dark gray once engorged. Similar to the other species of ticks, lone star tick larvae have 6 legs, while adults have 8. Female Lone Star Ticks are typically about 1/8” long when un-engorged but can grow to up to 7/16” when engorged. Male ticks are usually slightly smaller.
Lone Star Ticks are three-host ticks, meaning they attach to a different host during each stage of their lifespan: larvae, nymph and adult. They attach to their host by crawling up the tips of low-growing vegetation, such as grass, and wait for the host to pass by and brush against the vegetation. As nymphs and adults, lone star ticks will also crawl on the ground to find the host and attach. These ticks are most often found in shaded areas, as they cannot survive for long in the sun. Larvae prefer small animals, including rabbits, skunks, raccoons, cats and birds, while nymphs typically target a mix of small and large animals. Adult Lone Star Tick hosts are larger animals, such as foxes, dogs, cats, deer, turkey, cattle and humans – who are fed on by all three stages of lone star ticks.
Lone Star Ticks are known vectors of many diseases, including Tularemia, Heartland Virus, Bourbon Virus and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI). As with all ticks, early detection and removal is crucial, but lone star ticks have long mouth parts that can make removal especially difficult, as their mouthparts oftentimes break off while being extracted, resulting in further infection in the host.
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick is named after the habitat it is most commonly found – throughout the wooded areas of the Rocky Mountain states. They are also commonly referred to as Wood Ticks.
Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks are oval and flat in shape and are usually brown but become gray when they are engorged. They can range from 1/8” to 5/8” in length. As is customary with the other tick species, Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks have 6 legs as larvae and 8 as adults.
Similar to the Lone Star Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks are a three-host tick, with each stage requiring a new host. These ticks are at their highest threat level from mid-March to mid-July. Larvae and nymphs typically feed on rodents, like squirrels, chipmunks and voles, while adults feed on larger animals, including sheep, deer and humans. Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks are typically found in wooded areas, open grasslands and around trails where they can easily attach to a host.
The biggest threat posed by the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), an infectious disease that can turn deadly if not treated in a timely manner. The main symptom of RMSF is a full body rash 2-5 days after the bite.
Make sure to follow these prevention tips to reduce the risk of tick bites:
Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors.
Wear light colored clothing so that ticks are easier to spot.
Wear repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET.
Keep your yard tick-free by removing weeds and cutting grass low.
Inspect yourself, your family and pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.
When hiking, stay in the center of trails and away from vegetation.
If you find a tick on yourself or a family member, remove it with tweezers using a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. Then, wash your hands and the bite site thoroughly with soap and water. Ticks should be flushed down a toilet or wrapped tightly in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.
Be on the lookout for signs of tick bites, such as a telltale red bull's eye rash around a bite. If you suspect a tick has bitten you, seek medical attention.
Learn the symptoms of Lyme disease and consult with your doctor immediately if you are concerned or experiencing symptoms.
If you find a tick in your home or are experiencing a tick problem on your property, contact our licensed pest control professionals at Hopper Termite & Pest who can recommend a course of action.
The differences between wasps and hornets
Stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year. While you may have heard of common offenders like Paper Wasps and European Hornets, are you able to tell the difference in how they look, what they eat, and where they like to nest? Hopper Termite & Pest are called to the scene of houses and businesses each year, especially in the warmer months, to help exterminate and control these unwanted flying darts. Here are some details to help you tell the difference, suggestions as to what you can do to help control them, and what to do in case of a sting.
Paper wasps get their common name from the paper-like material out of which they make their nests. They are mostly brown with some yellow coloration and have a somewhat thinner “waist.”
European hornets, also called giant hornets or brown hornets, get their common name from its introduction from Europe into New York in the 1800s. They are larger than paper wasps and are brown with yellow stripes on their abdomens.
Paper wasps build their umbrella-shaped nests to hang from objects like twigs and branches of trees and shrubs, porch ceilings, the tops of window and door frames, soffits, eaves, attic rafters, deck floor joists, railings and more. Each nest has open, uncovered cells where the eggs are laid.
European hornets nest in hollow trees, barns, out buildings, hollow walls of houses, attics and abandoned beehives. Unprotected nests are usually covered in a brown envelope made of cellulose from chewed up, decayed wood.
Paper wasps eat nectar and other insects including caterpillars and flies. In the autumn, future queens will seek places to spend the winter and may find their way indoors, only to emerge come springtime to build their nests.
European hornets prey on a variety of large insects such as grasshoppers, flies, yellowjackets and honeybees, and are also known to eat tree sap, fruit and honeydew. They usually appear in late summer and, unlike most stinging insects, can be active at night.
Paper wasps, while not an aggressive species by nature, will sting if they are disturbed or their nest is threatened. Their stings can be very painful and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stings.
European hornets have smooth stingers, so they can sting over and over again. Hornet stings also carry venom that makes the stings hurt, itch or swell for about 24 hours, and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stings. European hornets can also do a great deal of damage to trees and shrubs because they strip the bark to get to the sap. They also use the bark fiber to build their nests.
The best way to prevent an infestation and the potential of getting stung is to make the home less attractive to stinging insects. Before trimming shrubs or hedges, or picking fruit, check the plant for nests to avoid contact with stinging insects. Seal cracks and crevices in the home with an appropriate sealant, repair any tears in screens, and try to keep doors closed to prevent stinging insects from entering the home. Keeping food covered, especially when outdoors, will also help keep stinging insects at bay when they are in search of nourishment. When spending time outside, people should avoid wearing strong fragrances and opt for unscented hygienic products. Likewise, they should wear shoes that cover and protect their feet from potentially being stung.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU'VE BEEN STUNG:
Remove the stinger as quickly as possible to curb the release of venom from the stinger.
Clean the affected area thoroughly with soap and cold water, then apply a cold compress or ice pack.
Over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (including Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naproxen) may be used as needed to relieve pain.
Antihistamines and hydrocortisone ointment can help soothe the local reaction.
If the local reaction worsens, see a doctor for prescription oral steroids or antihistamines.
If a more serious reaction occurs, seek emergency medical assistance or call 911. Those who have known allergies to stinging insects should acquire epinephrine kits, know how to use them, and carry them at all times.
If you find a stinging insect nest on your property, contact our pest professionals promptly. We will be able to inspect your home, confirm the type of stinging insect and recommend a course of action.