American Dog Tick
The preference to feast on domestic dog is what gets this tick its name. The tick is common in the United States, but the populations seem to be highly concentrated in South Florida and Massachusetts. The ticks are also known as wood ticks.
Adult ticks are brownish and have yellow or white markings. The females spot marbled markings on the upper front body surface, whereas the males have similar marking across the entire upper body surface. Just like the rest of tick species, the American dog tick larvae have a total of 6 legs and adults have 8 and have oval flat bodies. Before feeding, they measure 3/16 of an inch but this extends to 5/8th of an inch after feeding.
One amazing fact about the American dog tick is that it feeds on three different hosts through developmental stages of larva, nymph and adult. The females detach from hosts to lay eggs under leaves or where there is heavy vegetation. A female can hatch up to 5,000 eggs and the larvae emerge and attach on small mammals like mice to feed on. They later drop off the host and skin, casting takes place, making eight legged nymphs which attaché to another small mammal to survive. When they grow into larger adults, they will then seek larger hosts like the domestic dogs, cats, coyotes, livestock, deer and even humans. The development takes between 3 months and 2 years, depending on how favorable the weather conditions are.
Habits and risks
American dog ticks bite and unfortunately they can spread diseases like tularemia and fever. They do not fly and instead lay in wait on vegetation in fields, parks, vacant lots and wooded paths to attach to the host. The tick can survive indoors and pets are suspects to bring it into the house or your clothing can also bring a few into the house. Removal of the ticks from your pet should be done using forceps or tweezers instead of bare fingers because squeezing the body fluids can increase disease spread when they contact the mouth, mucous membrane and eyes.
• It can be hard to control the pest ticks, but a few measures can make a huge difference on your property.
• Keep the grass cut low, especially around trees, garages, sheds and fences
• Eliminate leave piles and sticks and any other organic debris they can live and hide in
• Manage garbage properly to keep hosts like mice and rats from your property. You should also eliminate access points by installing chimney caps and attic vent screen among others
• Use repellents with DEET when going to wooded areas to avoid bringing them home
• Wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and boots when going to suspect areas and keep the colors light
• Check pets and treat them when necessary to prevent infestations
• Call in pest professional to inspect the property and treat your exterior perimeter or entire property with most suitable pest products to control and reduce their populations on your property
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