Ticks Around Your Home

Ticks are closely related to scorpions, spiders and mites. They are not insects. They are external parasites that need a blood meal to survive and reproduce. Ticks can feed on humans and other mammals, reptiles, birds or even frogs. All life stages of ticks feed on blood. Ticks can transmit several diseases, such as Lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, and others, but most tick bites do not result in illness.

Life Cycle

Ticks have a simple life cycle. Eggs hatch into six-legged larvae, an immature stage. Depending on the kind of tick, the larva can be extremely active or lay in wait for a host to come. Once on the host, the larva will begin feeding. After the tick is full of blood, it will either fall off the host or stay on, depending on the type of tick. The next step for the tick is to turn into a nymph. From this point on, the tick will have eight legs. Some ticks go through many nymphal stages, while some only have one. The nymph will have a blood meal at every stage. After the nymph goes through all of its stages, it will turn into an adult. The adult will either stay on the original host, or find a new one if the nymph dropped off after feeding.

Types of Ticks

There are about 80 different kinds of ticks in the United States. Most of them are not associated with humans or their pets. The information presented here will help you understand what to do if you encounter one of the wood ticks or the brown dog tick in or around your home.

Wood ticks

The name wood tick is used for many ticks including the blacklegged or deer tick, lone star tick and American dog tick. These are usually found in woodland areas. If a home is built in an area that was recently a field or forest, there is a higher chance that these ticks will be close-by. They crawl around for several hours often before attaching themselves to a host, so they may be accidentally brought into a home on pets or clothing. Wood ticks do not establish populations indoors.

Brown dog tick

The brown dog tick can be a nuisance in the home. It is one of only a few ticks that will infest a structure. The brown dog tick prefers to feed on dogs, but will occasionally feed on other hosts, such as humans.

They usually are found only where dogs occur. They can be picked up in such common places as infested homes, kennels, veterinarian’s office, or outdoor areas frequented by an infested animal. On the animal, the larval and nymphal stages of the tick are normally found in the long hair along the back of a dog. The adult stage is found in the ear or between the toes. When an infestation occurs indoors, ticks will be found in cracks, crevices, behind baseboards and in other protected places close to the floor. Since the brown dog tick and adult female can lay as many as 5,000 eggs, the infestation can be very large.