Tick Identification & Prevention

Ticks, including deer ticks (also known as blacklegged ticks), are small arachnids that feed off the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. They have four pairs of legs and no antennae.

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Deer ticks live throughout the United States as well as the world. They are typically smaller than 1/4 inch long and have a rigid brown shield. Their prominent head projects forwards from the body, and they use their mouthparts to pierce the skin and feed on their victim’s blood.

Biology and Behavior

a tick on an animal
  • Ticks go through three major life stages: larval, nymphal, and adult, and require a different host in each stage.
  • They can satisfy all their nutritional needs on a diet of blood.
  • Because they feed on the blood of different animals, they are major vectors of disease in humans and other mammals, spreading Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, and many other disease-causing agents. 
  • Tick species like deer ticks, American dog ticks, and brown dog ticks can be found throughout the world but tend to flourish in areas with warm or humid climates.
  • A female tick lays up to 3,000 eggs on the ground. When larvae emerge from their eggs, they feed on the blood of small mammals and birds. Once fed, they remove themselves from their host and molt to nymphs on the ground. 
  • Ticks cannot fly or jump. They must drop off onto their host to feed.

Tick Prevention Tips

  • Cut the grass around your property short to eliminate hiding areas for ticks.
  • Cut back wooded areas around your property to give ticks fewer places to hide.
  • Remove woodpiles, brush, and leaf litter from the exterior of your home. 
  • Keep garbage in tightly sealed bins, away from your home.
  • Make sure that clotheslines are high enough off the ground so that clothes hanging from the line don’t touch the vegetation.
  • Eliminate dense plant beds close to your home.

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Helpful Articles About Ticks

The Dangers Ticks Bring To Residents And Pets In The Midwest

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