Scientific Name: Ixodida
1/16" - 1/8"
Dark Orange or Brown
Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, & Southeastern United States
Flat & Oval

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What are Ticks?

Ticks are notorious biting arachnids. Here in Virginia, we commonly see Blacklegged Deer Ticks, Lone Star Ticks, and American Dog Ticks. They are found primarily in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, southeastern, and northcentral United States. However they have been found all the way into Mexico.

Are they harmful?

Blacklegged ticks or deer ticks are the main transmitters of anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Lyme disease. Here in the United States, Lyme disease is the primary concern. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic bull’s eye-shaped skin rash. Lyme disease is also known to affect joints, the heart, and even the nervous system if left untreated. If you have been bitten by a tick, you should remove it as soon as you can.

Ticks often like to hide in grass and shrubs while waiting for a host. They prefer vegetation located in areas where forests meets field or mowed lawns meet an unmowed area, like around a fence line. Another habitat most likely to house ticks is a den or nesting area of its host. That could be raccoons, skunks, opossums, or the white-footed mouse.

During the winter months, adult ticks commonly feed on the blood of deer. Then, in the spring, a female tick will leave its host and lay its eggs (usually about 3,000). Similar unto fleas, which can lay around 2,000 eggs. Baby ticks will feed on mice, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, dogs, humans, and birds.

Ticks prefer warm, moist body areas. Areas around the groin, armpits, and hair should be checked thoroughly. Long hair can make detection difficult. Ticks will usually crawl around for a few hours searching for the right spot before they attach. Then, they need to be attached for 6-8 hours before a successful transmission can take place.

How can you treat them?

There are a few things you can do to prevent ticks around your home.

  • Keep your grass cut low around fence lines, sheds, trees, shrubs, and other areas.
  • Get rid of weeds, woodpiles, and other debris areas that are attractive to mice as nesting areas.
  • Keep garbage can lids on tightly to discourage raccoons, skunks, and opossums from raiding your trash for food.
  • Discourage feeding birds because the seeds attract deer mice, the major reservoir host for the Lyme disease pathogen.

Ticks do not survive well indoors. If found indoors, they were most likely transported by an animal or a human. For personal protection, use repellent with at least 20% deet. Try to remember to tuck your pants into your socks or boots when going into suspicious areas. Check children for ticks when they come inside from a day playing outside. Remember that ticks will crawl around for hours before they start feeding. Always get pets that regularly go outdoors checked. A vet can check any pet’s blood to determine if they are carrying Lyme disease.

The best way to remove a tick that is attached to a person or pet is to firmly grasp it with a pair of tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Grip tightly and pull gently backwards until the tick pulls free. Do not touch the tick. You can save it in rubbing alcohol for later identification. You should also consult with a doctor if there is a reaction at the bite site or if you believe you have contracted Lyme disease. Get in touch with one of our professionals at BioShield. You can either fill out a contact form on our website or give us a call at 757-349-8818.

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