Ticks are bloodsucking arachnids that can significantly impact the quality of life and health of humans and their pets. Although they are tiny and may look harmless, these parasitic arachnids can spread potentially life-threatening ailments like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and even Lyme disease.

Although they are often mistaken for insects, ticks are arthropods. They are more like mites and spiders than mosquitos and flies. They have four pairs of legs, a flattened body, and no antennae. The creatures are the size of an apple seed before feeding but can expand up to twice their original size after sucking blood from a host. 

Ticks are incapable of flying or jumping. Instead, they in wooded areas and overgrown vegetation, and as humans and animals pass by, they extend their forelegs and hitch a ride.

Identifying Ticks

Ticks are usually easily identifiable since they don’t look like other bugs, but there are over 850 species of ticks, each with distinctive features. However, there are some qualities visible in nearly all tick species. Here are some characteristics you can use for tick identification:

Color: Brown, black, or gray

Size:  ¼ to 3/8ths of an inch long

Bodily Features: The most distinctive feature of a tick is their flat, teardrop or oval body shape. Hard ticks have external mouthparts that extend from the head, and the soft tick’s mouthparts are on the underside of their body. They come with four pairs of legs and lack any wings or antennae. Unlike insects that have three body parts, ticks have two, the head and the abdomen. The tick’s body is covered by a thick plate known as a scutum, which prevents it from bursting as it feeds. 

Habitat: You’ll find ticks in places with warm and humid climates. They hide in wooded areas, grassy fields, shrubs, and vegetation. They hitch a ride to your home by attaching themselves to your clothes or pet’s fur as you walk through your lawn or garden.  

Diet: Ticks survive by imbibing blood from mammals such as human beings, dogs, cats, and rabbits. They have sharp mouths that break the skin and secret a compound that prevents blood clotting and increases blood flow. 

Are Ticks Dangerous

Ticks are a serious health risk to both humans and pets. Depending on the species, they can inflict painful bites that can have an adverse reaction based on whether the host is allergic to them, and they’re vectors to several serious diseases. They can transmit Lyme disease, characterized by fatigue and problems with the brain, and some species like the American dog tick transmit Rocky Mounted spotted fever with symptoms such as weight loss, fever, and ulcers. 

Preventing and Controlling Ticks

Ticks have a well-deserved bad rap for disease transmission and vampirism. They should be kept away from your home at all costs. Here are preventive actions you should take:

  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow your lawn, trim shrubs, and prune low-hanging trees
  • Erect fences to keep wild animals away from your compound
  • Get rid of yard debris, trash, old furniture, and woodpiles near your house

Although you’ll find several methods of controlling ticks on the internet, there’s no shame in asking for help from professionals if you find yourself overwhelmed. Since ticks are vectors of serious diseases, they shouldn’t be eliminated through trial and error. Look for a professional pest control company like Domain Pest Control to deal with tick infestation!

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