Ticks are relatives of spiders, scorpions, and mites. And like their counterparts, their survival is dependent on a host, specifically,  blood or body fluids. These blood-feeding parasites that are often found in tall grass and shrubs where they will wait to attach to a passing animal or person.

Ticks can’t jump or fly, although they may drop from their perch and fall onto its unsuspecting prey. Some species stalk the host from ground level, emerging from cracks or crevices located in the woods or even inside a home or kennel.

(Photo of blood engorged tick.)

Changes in temperature and day length are some of the factors signaling a tick to seek a host. Ticks can detect heat emitted or carbon dioxide respired from a nearby host. They will generally drop off the animal when full, but this may take several days. In some cases ticks will live for some time on the blood of an animal. Ticks are more active outdoors in warm weather, but can attack a host at any time. Mature ticks are harder to see. Frequent grooming and chemicals for control may control the spread of seed ticks and adults.

How ticks feed

A tick will attach itself to its host by inserting its chelicerae (cutting mandibles) and hypostome (feeding tube) into the skin. The feeding tube is covered with recurved teeth and serves as a hammer.

Preventing and controlling ticks around your home….

  • Keep your grass mowed and keep weeds cut.
  • Clean up items that attract rodents which can carry ticks, such as spilled birdseed, and hiding places like old wood piles.
  • Free-roaming dogs and cats are much more likely to encounter ticks than those that are confined to the home or yard. If ticks are found on pets, contact your veterinarian for information about an appropriate tick treatment.
  • Remove the occasional tick found indoors by vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag and place it in the trash. Owners of kennels or homes infested with the brown dog tick may wish to contact a professional pest control company for assistance.

If you’re concerned that you have ticks in your backyard, give Dave a call at 1-800-400-6009.

In the coming weeks I’ll be talking specifically about brown ticks and deer ticks….and the serious health issues these parasites can cause.

Dave’s Pest Control Serving Central Massachusetts

Photo: Image library database of the US Centers for Disease Control