Brown Dog Ticks

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Rhipicephalus sanguineus

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?

  • Color: Adult brown dog ticks are reddish-brown and lack any easily noticeable markings that are found on many other tick species.
  • Size: Adults that have not taken a blood meal are about 1/8 inch long. Blood-fed females are about a 1/2 inch long and have a blue-gray coloration. Males are smaller than females, but are colored very similarly.

How Did I Get Brown Dog Ticks?

Brown dog ticks often travel into houses on canines, their preferred hosts, or cats. Because they are found deep within the hair of animals, homeowners may not immediately see them. Adult ticks typically embed themselves to a dog’s ears and between its toes, while larvae and nymphs typically attach to the dog’s back.

If brown dog ticks do not have a preferred host to feed upon, they will readily seek out humans for their needed blood meals. The pests attach themselves to an animal’s skin in order to feed on its blood and lay eggs in its fur. After entering homes, they breed and can spread onto residents and other pets.

How Serious Are Brown Dog Ticks?

Infestations
Unlike other species, brown dog ticks can survive and complete their entire life cycle indoors. Warm temperatures help these pests develop and reproduce, causing infestations to spread quickly.

Diseases
Brown dog ticks may transmit canine-related diseases, such as canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. They are know transmitters of Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans, but are not known to transmit Lyme disease. However, they are often mistaken for deer ticks, which are known carriers of Lyme disease. If there are medical concerns regarding a tick bite, consult a medical professional.

Signs of Infestation

An infestation may not be recognized until populations grow large and ticks are seen crawling across floors or walls.

How Do I Get Rid of Brown Dog Ticks?

What You Can Do
In order to reduce or control indoor brown dog tick infestations, the affected home must be thoroughly cleaned. Special shampoos and medications may also be used on the affected pet’s fur. Contact your veterinarian to discuss any such treatments. In general, an effective and efficient brown dog tick control plan includes:

  • Using veterinarian-recommended tick treatment products on pets.
  • Frequently inspecting dogs or other pets and promptly eliminating any ticks that are found.
  • Using approved tick control products to target ticks that are either inside or outside the home.
  • Frequently cleaning and vacuuming the home’s interior to remove as many ticks as possible.

What Orkin Does
Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage brown dog ticks and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation. In the event of an infestation severe enough to require pesticides, homeowners are advised to contact their local pest control professionals.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep brown dog ticks in their place…out of your home, or business.


Behavior, Diet, & Habits

What Do They Eat?
As their name implies, brown dog ticks prefer to feed on the blood of canines. They are also known to bite and feed upon humans and other animal hosts.

Where Do They Live?
The brown dog tick is unique in its ability to complete the entire life cycle indoors. Their typical habitat is warm, protected indoor locations where dogs are found, and they may become established inside homes. Animal kennels are another place where brown dog ticks can thrive, so kennel tick is another common name for the species. In the southern United States, brown dog ticks may live in grass or bushes around homes, dog houses, or kennels.

Geographic Range
Brown dog ticks are the species that is most often found in homes. As a result, brown dog tick populations can be found throughout the world, including areas with frigidly cold outdoor temperatures. Brown dog ticks live throughout the eastern U.S. as well as areas of the West Coast. However, they are more likely to inhabit warm environments and are prolific in the southern areas of the United States. They can be found in particularly high concentrations in Florida.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the brown dog tick is similar to that of other tick species in the family Ixodidae. Beginning as eggs, they develop through larval and nymphal stages prior to maturing into adults. Brown dog ticks are three-host ticks, meaning that they drop off the host after the meal before each of their developmental stages. A brown dog tick can remain with one host throughout its life, if necessary.

Eggs
Unlike tick species that require plants or soil for egg laying, female brown dog ticks are capable of laying thousands of eggs on any surface available to them. After feeding, the tick drops off the host but does not travel far. Females can often be seen climbing up walls searching for a place to lay their eggs. Adult females lay a mass of 1,000 – 3,000 eggs after taking a blood meal, and eggs are often laid around:

  • Baseboards
  • Curtains
  • Furniture
  • Rug edges
  • Window and door casings

Lifespan
It takes about 60 days to complete a generation if conditions are optimal. Adults that have not consumed a blood meal may live for as long as 200 days.