With some basic knowledge regarding ticks, it will become easier to control these insects.
Biology of Ticks
Despite being commonly mistaken for insects, ticks are technically arachnids that are just very small. They are in the subclass Acari, which they share with mites. Within the United States, there are around 90 species of ticks, compared with the around 900 species around the world. The life cycle of ticks varies slightly by species, but most ticks have three hosts, one for each stage of the life cycle. The stages include larva, nymph, and adult. When they hatch from their eggs, the larvae have six legs and search for a host. This is typically the stage when a tick will be infected with an organism that causes disease. The larva engorges fully, drops from the host, and molts to become a nymph. The nymph then repeats this process with another host. Finally, the adult finds a third host.
Adult female ticks that are fully engorged and mated will drop one batch with several thousands of eggs into leaf litter then die. The life cycle can take between one and three years based on species. There are both hard and soft ticks. Hard ticks have a scutum, which is a hardened plate along their dorsal surface, as well as a prominent head known as the capitulum. On males, this scutum encompasses the entire dorsal surface, which limits the feeding ability of ticks. The head of a tick sits on an oval-shaped body. Adult ticks, as well as tick nymphs, have eight legs. As larvae, ticks only have six. Ticks have mouthparts that penetrate the host and secure the tick to it. When feeding, a tick will secrete a substance that allows it to anchor onto the host. At the same time, this substance prevents the blood from coagulating and acts as an anesthetic so the host is less likely to notice the bite.
Why Ticks Are Considered Pests
Whenever ticks are present, there is always a risk of the spread of disease. This is worsened by the fact that they are highly efficient feeders. Because of this, you should always check for ticks after spending time in any area that is a tick habitat. Tick bites alone are enough to make these arachnids pests, thanks to the illnesses that are readily transmitted via tick bites. There are multiple tickborne diseases and unfortunately, there is some overlap of symptoms between them. The general rule of thumb is that if you find a tick bite and experience symptoms, you should go to the doctor. They will ask where you encountered the tick and may do additional testing.
Common symptoms associated with tick-related illnesses include fevers, chills, aches and pains, and rash. Potential diseases include Lyme, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), each of which has their own rash patterns. It is also possible for some people to have reactions to the bite that are more serious, even without the presence of tickborne illness. These can include anaphylaxis and tick paralysis, both of which require immediate medical attention. Keep in mind that ticks can harm pets in addition to humans.
Methods for Controlling Ticks
Anytime you find a tick inside, you should treat the interior of your home, preferably with the help of a professional. You do not want to end up with a tick infestation due to the difficulty in eliminating them and the risks associated with bites. You can find liquid, aerosol, and dust insecticides, offering a range of options. Ensure that the product you choose targets ticks in particular and is safe for use inside. Any insecticide that is designed to kill ticks will not be designed for broadcast spraying on walls or sprays. Instead, you should apply it to voids in your home as well as cracks and crevices.
For the best results, ask your pest control professional to also include an insect growth regulator or IGR in the plan. These will stop the immature ticks from reaching their sexual maturity so they cannot repopulate. You may have to apply an insect growth regulator separately from the other insecticide or it may be part of the other product. When treating the home for ticks with insecticides, remember to look at all heights. Ticks have biological programming that encourages them to climb up in search of a host. As such, you should treat furniture arms and the backs of furniture.
DIY Tips for How to Get Rid of Ticks
As mentioned, the most important step of getting rid of ticks is to always inspect yourself and anyone you are with, including animals, following activities in a tick-infested area. The most common spots for ticks to attach include by the ears, in the belly button, by the waist, behind the knees, between the legs, in the hair, and in the underarms. If you find a tick, use it with tweezers, grasping the tick as close as you can to the skin to avoid leaving behind any part of it. In the case of ticks in your home or on your property, make it a habit to check for ticks on your person regularly. Remove any ticks on your clothes right away and watch clothing in hot water before placing it in the dryer set to high heat. If you have pets, prevent them from being infected with ticks via oral medications, tick collars, or sprays.
You can strongly discourage ticks from taking up residence on your property with some simple control methods. Start by ensuring you clean up any leaf litter as well as tall grasses that are around the home. Additionally, you should distribute wood chips or gravel between wooded areas and your yard. This will make a buffer zone to stop ticks from getting onto your property. Indoor cleaning is also important for eliminating and preventing ticks. Since ticks prefer dry, warm places, pay close attention to parts of your home that fit that description. Because of their small size, you will need to check for ticks in small spaces, including along clothing seams and the baseboards of walls.
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