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Pest Library: Ticks

TicksTicks are small arachnids, part of the order Parasitiformes. Along with mites, they constitute the subclass Acari. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks had evolved by the Cretaceous period, the most common form of fossilisation being immersed in amber. Ticks are widely distributed around the world, especially in warm, humid climates.

Almost all ticks belong to one of two major families, the Ixodidae or hard ticks, which are difficult to crush, and the Argasidae or soft ticks. Adults have ovoid or pear-shaped bodies which become engorged with blood when they feed, and eight legs. As well as having a hard shield on their dorsal surfaces, hard ticks have a beak-like structure at the front containing the mouthparts whereas soft ticks have their mouthparts on the underside of the body. Both families locate a potential host by odour or from changes in the environment.

Ticks have four stages to their lifecycle, namely egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Ixodid ticks have three hosts, taking at least a year to complete their lifecycle. Argasid ticks have up to seven nymphal stages (instars), each one requiring a blood meal. Because of their habit of ingesting blood, ticks are vectors of at least twelve diseases that affect humans and other animals.

Ticks are implicated in the transmission of a number of infections caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Sometimes the tick harbours more than one type of pathogen, making diagnosis of the infection more difficult. Species of the bacterium Rickettsia are responsible for typhus, rickettsialpox, Boutonneuse fever, African tick bite fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Flinders Island spotted fever and Queensland tick typhus (Australian tick typhus). Other tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease and Q fever, Colorado tick fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Bourbon virus and tick-borne meningoencephalitis, as well as bovine anaplasmosis and probably the Heartland virus.

Some species, notably the Australian paralysis tick, are also intrinsically venomous and can cause tick paralysis. Eggs can become infected with pathogens inside a female tick’s ovaries, in which case the larval ticks are infectious immediately at hatching, before feeding on their first host. Tropical bont ticks transmit the rickettsial disease heartwater which can be particularly devastating in cattle. The ticks carried by migratory birds may act as reservoirs and vectors of infectious diseases.

Not all ticks in an infective area are infected with pathogens, and both attachment of the tick and a long-feeding session seem to be necessary for transmission of these diseases to take place. Thus tick bites often do not lead to infection, especially if the ticks are removed within 36 hours. Adult ticks can be removed with fine-tipped tweezers or proprietary tick removal tools, disinfecting the wound. It is also possible to freeze them off with a medical wart remover. If the tick’s head and mouthparts break off during removal, they can be removed with tweezers like a splinter.

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Palm Beach County: West Palm Beach , Boca Raton , Boynton Beach , Delray Beach , Greenacres , Jupiter , Lake Worth , Palm Beach Gardens , Royal Palm Beach and Wellington .

Monroe County: Key Largo , Islamorada , Marathon and Key West.

Ants: Acrobat Ant, Allegheny Mound Ant, Argentine Ant, Big-headed Ant, Carpenter Ant, Citronella Ant, Crazy Ant, Field Ant, Fire Ant, Ghost Ant, Harvester Ant, Little Black Ant, Moisture Ant, Odorous House Ant, Pavement Ant, Pharaoh Ant, Texas Leaf Cutter Ant, Thief Ant, Velvety Tree Ant and White-footed Ant.

Bitings Insects: Bed Bugs, Bird Lice, Cat Flea, House Mosquito, Human Head Lice, Kissing Bug, Pubic Lice and Thrips

Mosquitoes: Asian Tiger Mosquito, Aedes-Aegypti Mosquito and Culex Mosquito.

Cockroaches: American Cockroach, Asian Cockroach, Australian Cockroach, Brown Banded Cockroach, Cuban Cockroach, Florida Woods Cockroach, German Cockroach, Oriental Cockroach, Smoky Brown Cockroach, Surinam Cockroach and Woods Cockroach.

Flies: Blow Fly and Bottle Fly, Cluster Fly, Crane Fly, Face Fly, Flesh Fly, Fruit Fly, Fungus Gnat, House Fly, Drain Fly and Phorid Fly.

Rodents: Deer Mouse, House Mouse, Norway Rat, Pack Rat, Roof Rat, Vole and White-footed Mouse.

Spiders: Black Widow Spider , Brown Recluse Spider, Cellar Spider, Crab Spider, Domestic House Spider, Funnelweb Spider, Garden Spider, Ground Spider, Hobo Spider, House Spider, Jumping Spider, Spiny-backed Orb Weaver Spider, Tarantula, Wolf Spider and Yellow Sac Spider.

Stinging Pests: Africanized Honeybee, American Dog Tick, Bald-faced Hornet, Bed Bugs, Bird Lice, Bird Mite, Deer Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Bumblebee, Carpenter Bee, Cat Flea, European Hornet, Fire Ant, Honeybee, Human Head Lice, Kissing Bug, Lone Star Tick, Paper Wasp, Scorpion, Soft Tick, Thrips and Yellow Jacket.

Termites: Dampwood Termite, Drywood Termite, Formosan Subterranean Termite and Subterranean Termite.

Ticks and Mites: American Dog Tick, Bird Mite, Black-legged Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Clover Mite, Lone Star Tick and Soft Tick.

Other Pests: American Spider Beetle, Bean Weevil, Cigarette Beetle, Cowpea Weevil, Dried Fruit Beetle, Drugstore Beetle, Foreign Grain Beetles, Indian Meal Moth, Larder Beetle, Mediterranean Flour Moth, Red or Confused Flour Beetle, Rice & Granary Weevils, Sawtoothed & Merchant, Grain Beetles, Shiny Spider Beetle, Cabinet Beetles, Centipedes & Millipedes, Chinch Bugs and Earwigs.