4 Ticks We Love to Loathe
General Pest Control
Several tick species can be found throughout all of Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. Although not one species is more prevalent than the other, it has been scientifically proven that the Deer tick is singularly responsible for transmitting Lyme disease to more than 300,000 individuals each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of reported Lyme disease cases occur in the Northeast and Midwest areas of the U.S. While several tick species are home to DC, Maryland and Virginia, we've made a list of the top four culprits that you are most likely to encounter this fall.
1. The American dog tick:
The American dog tick, like its name suggests, is most commonly found on dogs and larger wildlife such as deer, cows and horses. The female of this large tick species is reddish-brown in color with a distinctive “shield” appearing behind the head. It typically ranges in size from 3.5 to 5 millimeters, but can engorge after a blood meal to 15 millimeters in length, or about the length of a staple. This tick species is primarily known for transmitting Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), tularemia, and canine tick paralysis. Dog ticks are usually active in Maryland between April and October.
2. The Black-legged tick (also called the Deer tick):
The Deer tick is one of the smaller tick species known to the Mid-Atlantic region. Its occurrence in wooded areas, especially those roamed by wildlife, is high. The adult tick is approximately 3 millimeters in length and appears dark-brown to black in color, with females appearing reddish behind the “shield.” Deer tick nymphs are responsible for increasing numbers of Lyme disease cases in adults and children across the region. Transmission of the bacterium known to cause the disease will generally occur after an infected tick feeds on its human host. This typically occurs when Deer tick nymphs (young ticks, usually no larger than a pinhead) remain undiscovered on the body for 24 hours or more. While adult Deer ticks are fully capable of transmitting Lyme disease, they are more readily discovered and removed from the body before transmission occurs.
3. The Lone star tick:
The Lone star tick is also found throughout D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. The adult tick is brown in color with characteristically long mouthparts and can range between 3 and 4 millimeters in length. The female Lone star tick also exhibits a distinctive, silvery-white dot in the middle of the back. Although this tick species is not known to carry the disease pathogen that causes Lyme disease, it has been reported that it is capable of transmitting other illnesses to humans, pets and wildlife.
4. The Brown dog tick:
The Brown dog tick is a unique species, often found in homes and kennels, and is known to cause illness in dogs. It is recognized by its elongated body shape, red-brown color and hexagon-shaped head. Brown dog ticks primarily feed on dogs and many will complete their entire life cycle (from egg to adult) indoors. Infestations that are quickly identified can usually be successfully treated, as long as the dogs do not bring new ticks into the structure.
How to remove a tick
We thought it would be important to address the appropriate removal of a tick from a person or a pet. If the tick has attached itself, do not panic. You will need a pair of tweezers, cotton balls or sterile gauze and some rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- First, grasp the tick with the tweezers as closely to the surface of the skin as you can.
- Pull upward with steady pressure, but do not jerk the tick out. Pulling, jerking, or twisting the tick out quickly could cause the head to break off, leaving the mouthparts to remain under the skin. This could lead to infection.
- Once the tick has been removed, clean the area with alcohol or soap and water.
- If the head breaks off under the skin, leave it. Clean the area and keep an eye out for any sign of infection, rash or fever. In some cases, symptoms of a tick-borne illness may not appear for several weeks, so be sure to tell your primary physician if you suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that manifests in humans up to several weeks after a tick infected with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) has bitten its host. While it's important to know that many people who are bitten by a tick may not get the disease, those that do will generally develop flu-like symptoms in the days or weeks following the incident. In some cases, but not all, a rash may appear in the shape of a bulls-eye on the skin around the area of the bite. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, Lyme disease can lead to heart problems, several muscular and cognitive ailments, as well as partial paralysis.
If you have questions about ticks or any other creepy crawlies giving you the heebie-jeebies, just send us a message and we'll set ourselves to the rescue!
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