Facts, Identification & Control
Family Ixodidae (describes most common ticks)
What Do They Look Like?
- Color: Color varies by species.
- Size: Adults can be smaller than a sunflower seed (over 1 cm long if engorged with blood), while tick larvae can be less than 1 mm.
- Legs:Ticks have only six legs during their larval stage and eight legs during their nymphal and adult stages.
How Did I Get Ticks?
Ticks do not fly or jump, but they can latch onto fur, clothing, or skin. These pests often hitchhike indoors on pets or household pests like rats and mice. Tick infestation may also indicate a stray animal (opossum, raccoon, etc.) is living near a home. Exceptions to this rule are brown dog ticks, a species that survives and reproduces quite well inside, and soft ticks that sometimes invade structures searching for a host.
How Serious Are Ticks?
These pests do not present much of a threat to well-built homes with effectively constructed and maintained exclusionary measures, unless there is a host’s burrow or nest inside the structure. However, in rustic cabins or old, poorly constructed and maintained homes with multiple sources of entry, the pests may attempt to feed on humans before returning to their sheltered sites. According to a recent CDC statement, the number of illnesses caused by tick bites tripled between 2004 and 2016.
Different species of ticks can transmit over 15 viruses and infections. Some of these problem ticks include:
One of the more common tick-borne ailments is Lyme disease. If left untreated, Lyme disease can affect the heart and nervous system, so early detection and medical intervention are crucial. Symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Skin rash
Signs of Infestation
The first signs are usually the pests themselves. Secondary signs can include medical symptoms from diseases or fluids transmitted by ticks. These can vary and are best left to a medical professional for diagnosis. Repairing any crevices or gaps and keeping grass cut short outside may discourage infestations.
How Do I Get Rid of Ticks?
What Orkin Does
Your Orkin service technician treats for ticks on your property by using a comprehensive, integrated tick control plan. While the specific requirements of a control plan are situational and will vary, the following control actions and recommendations will be factored into your plan:
- Inspection & Identification
The first step your Orkin technician takes is to inspect the property – perhaps both inside and outside the home since ticks can be brought inside on clothing and by pets. The inspection will include information related to tick distribution on the property and will also include species identification.
Your technician will provide some basic details about the pests including behaviors, life cycle, etc. They will also describe how to recognize ticks, how to prevent tick exposure, and give a recommendation to contact your medical professional or veterinarian for advice on using tick repellent, treatment products, and treatment advice should a tick-borne disease be suspected.
- Tick Habitat Modifications
Using the inspection findings, your technician may recommend modifying areas of tick habitat that will open formerly shaded areas to sunlight. Exposing an area to sunlight reduces moisture and decreases tick habitat. In addition, your technician will recommend removing protective sites such as heavy, thick leaf litter, thick ground cover around the home’s perimeter and protective areas such as fallen logs, firewood piles, and rock piles. Habitat modifications should target areas frequented by pets and family members, not necessarily the entire property.
- Chemical Applications
The plan also identifies locations where tick control products can be used effectively in accordance with approved instructions on the product label. Areas the technician will focus on include ground cover vegetation, areas where the lawn meets the woods, ornamental plantings, etc.
A follow-up inspection and additional control work, if needed, will be provided per the stipulations of your approved service agreement.
The disposal of all empty bird and rodent nesting materials is necessary, as they will readily infest these items. The pests prefer tall grass and brush, so trimming lawns and adding gravel barriers around wooded areas and patios can help prevent bites.
Prevention for Pets
Regular pet inspections can reduce the chance of your pet contracting a tick-borne disease. Feeding ticks should be removed as soon as they are discovered. Many treatments are also available from your veterinarian’s office for tick control.
Removing Ticks from People & Pets
Ticks found on pets or people require cautious and thorough removal. They should be grasped behind the head by tweezers and pulled slowly away from the host’s skin. Crushing the pest may lead to the release of further dangerous fluids. It is important that the mouthparts be completely removed from the wound, as well. Infected areas should be thoroughly washed and disinfected. If there are concerns resulting from a flea or tick bite, seek medical attention immediately.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Where Do They Live?
Often found near wooded and highly vegetated areas. Some species require moisture to survive. Indoors, the may live inside cracks, crevices, or their host’s nest or burrow
What Do They Eat?
Females and males of most species feed on blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Each species does have a preferred host, although most will feed on whatever blood is available to them. Thus, ticks are known to bite:
- Cats and Dogs
Ticks consume blood meals during all four stages of their life cycles. Pathogens, or organisms that cause diseases in the animals they infect, can be passed through the stages of a tick’s life cycle. There are four stages:
Fleas vs. Ticks
Fleas and ticks are both parasitic in nature, living on hosts much larger than themselves. Both fleas and ticks feed on the blood of their chosen hosts and are transmitters of various diseases. While neither ticks nor fleas choose humans as their primary hosts, both parasites are known to bite and feed on humans in the absence of other food sources.
Like other arachnids, adult ticks possess four pairs of legs. However, as larvae, they bear only six legs and gain their fourth pair after molting. Their territories are not defined by specific location; rather, they tend to dwell within the habitats of their preferred hosts. Thus, the pests may be found in areas as diverse as forests, grasslands, and human homes. After hatching, all stages of a tick’s life cycle feed on blood.
Fleas are insects with six legs. They are wingless and incapable of flight. However, the flat bodies and long legs of the flea have developed to enable impressive jumping skills and the ability to move unimpeded through dense fur or hair. Fleas are found throughout the world, with several species residing primarily in households. Fleas undergo complete metamorphosis of egg, larva, pupa and adult. Only adults feed on blood.
Deer Ticks (Ixodes scapularis)
Brown Dog Ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineuls)
Lone Star Ticks (Amblyomma americanum)
Wood Tick or American Dog Tick (Dermacentor andersoni)
Relapsing Fever Ticks (Ornithodoros spp.)
Fowl Ticks (Argas persicus)
Longhorned Ticks (Haemaphysalis longicornis)
Ticks & Illness