Ticks & Brown Dog Ticks

With a name like ‘Tick’, these little guys don’t have it easy - for good reason. Ticks are blood-feeding ectoparasites (a big way to say they attach to the outside of their hosts) capable of transmitting species-specific pathogens to people, dogs and possibly cats. Ahem, yikes. And some even specialize. For example, while Brown Dog Ticks will bite people, they earned their name because they are attracted to dogs and spread canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis (e.g. Rocky Mountain spotted fever). Double yikes. 

At this point, you have to be asking, “Hey Sunday! Any silver lining here?” We’re getting there! Let’s get you up to speed on how to recognize ticks, where they live, how to proactively manage for them, and, for when you need a little extra help, how to repel and remove them using plant-derived Sunday pest control.

How to ID Ticks

It may seem daunting to know all these ticks are out there, but getting familiar with them is the first step to Sunday’s integrated pest management approach. Plus, accurate identification is essential to understand biology, breeding requirements, and the location of the infestation. Bonus? As long as you remove ticks in time, they can be quite harmless! 

Most adult ticks and nymphs have eight legs, whereas larvae (the stage that hatches from the egg) only have six. Adults are usually less than 1/8 inch long. Need to identify a common or more rare tick in your neck of the woods? Here is an excellent tick identification resource, or check out our quick tick ID checklist below.  

So, what are the most common tick species?

Good question. We’ve compiled a top four list of need-to-know ticks. Why? These ticks are the most prevalent in the US and can carry the more troublesome pathogens for pests and humans.

 

Blacklegged tick – Ixodes scapularis

  • has black legs and a round scutum
  • female has red abdomen
  • found under shrubs and in or near woods

 

Sunday Funday Fact: What’s a scutum? It’s just a fancy word for the hard section behind a tick’s head. 

 

Lone star tick – Amblyomma americanum

  • round-shape with long mouthparts
  • female with white spot, all reddish brown
  • found in lawns, tall grass, and shrubs

 

American dog tick – Dermacentor variabilis

  • males have a mosaic pattern against a dark brown body
  • females have large off-white, patterned scutum against a dark brown body
  • short mouthparts
  • found in wooded edges, lawns and closer to homes

 

Brown dog Tick – Rhipicephalus sanguineus

  • dark brown with no special markings
  • teardrop shape
  • short mouthparts
  • can live outdoors, mostly in the southeast, but can also infest and breed in living spaces, especially near pet resting areas

 

P.S. Unsure if what you’re looking at is really one of the ticks above? Here’s some common lookalikes:

 

Bed Bug: 

 

And don’t forget, these ticks above can also be confused with other ticks and sometimes fleas too! 

When Are Ticks Active?

Many ticks found in the US can be active all year round if temperatures remain above freezing. This even includes days when the ambient temperature is below freezing, but the sun warms up patches of ground where ticks are present. In short, every season is a tick season. Ah, now isn’t that a lovely thought. 

 

Lucky for some of us, though, some ticks are a bit more particular when it comes to location and temperature. Some ticks like brown dog ticks are really only found in warmer climates.

Where Do Ticks Live?

While most ticks are found nationwide, many species are differentiated by their region and preferred habitat. Regardless of species, most ticks are able to live in natural lands, near homes or backyards, or even inside. Below are some ways ticks can get near your home: 

  1. Property is near or on the edge of a wooded area.
  2. Property is near or against tall grass habitat.
  3. Property is near shrub habitat (has a good amount of shrubs or bushes).

 

And finally, but probably the least favorite, certain ticks (e.g. the brown dog tick) can live in your home or near pet areas if you or your pets have walked through tick-infested areas outside. 

Sunday ProTip: always complete a tick check on you and your pets after being outdoors to prevent ticks from entering the home and attaching to a host!

Natural Pest Prevention and Reduction Practices

At Sunday, we’re here to help keep you, your family and your furry friends tick-free (and worry free too!) this summer. Whether you don’t mind ticks that much or you’re constantly worried about them – there are a few ways you can avoid encounters and deter ticks from entering your home and yard.    

  1. Know tick habitat. Woods and wooded edges are habitat for Blacklegged tick, while open fields, natural areas along roadways, etc. are prime habitat for American dog ticks and Lone star ticks. To find out more about which ticks are found in your area, check out the CDC distribution maps.  
  2. Survey ticks. Beyond recognizing habitat, homeowners can survey for ticks using a drag cloth. Drag a white cloth across your yard to find out where ticks are located. 
  3. Maintain sanitary pet areas. If you have identified ticks inside of your home, it will essentially be a brown dog tick. You can manage for this tick through crack and crevice treatments (steam cleaning) near pet sleeping areas. This will help kill eggs and ticks in other life stages. 
  4. Limit tick habitat. Cut back shrubs and shrubby or wooded edge areas near places your family and pets frequent in your yard. 
  5. Always Tick Check. Broken record here – we know. If you spend time outside, especially in prime tick habitat, complete regular tick checks on yourself, your family and pets before and after entering the home or yard. 

Tick Check 101

  1. First, check your clothing and outdoor gear! Ticks hide in folded areas, near belt loops and around your boots and socks. Sunday ProTip: if you find ticks on clothing, you can tumble dry gear and clothing for 10-15 minutes to kill the ticks.
  2. Check your entire body for ticks. We recommend checking all the joint regions (knees, elbows, armpits) and all areas near your hairline. Ticks love these spots! 
  3. You’re probably dirty from spending all that time outside right? A good way to thoroughly tick check is to just take a shower and check yourself head to toe. Plus, ticks really give us that creepy crawly feeling anyways – don’t they? 
  4. Finally, make sure to check and remove ticks from your furry friends after spending time outside. Bonus tip? Use tick and flea collars or vet recommended topical applications to prevent ticks to begin with! 

Sunday ProTip: If you do find a tick – don’t worry. Use pointy tweezers to remove (no fingers for this step!) and pull straight out without twisting. Seal the tick in a container marked with the date, and turn it in to your vet or local extension office, where they can test for pathogens. Clean the area of the tick attachment with soap and water.

The Sunday Way to a Tick-Free Home + Yard

Sunday’s NixTix is a cedarwood oil yard control spray to kill and repel ticks (among other pests) on contact and for sustained periods of time. Here’s how it works:  

  1. As with all pesticides, always read the label first, wear eye protection and full length clothing when applying.
  2. Decide what area you spend the most time in. This is your ‘protected zone’ and where you will be spraying the barrier of NixTix around.
  3. For ticks, spray any shady areas where ticks can seek shelter from direct sunlight such as woods, trees, and bushes. 
  4. Then concentrate your spray on the areas where the shaded area meets the lawn, and spray at least a 12 ft. wide lawn swatch where the lawn meets the woods to create a barrier of protection.
  5. After 7 days, repeat steps 3 and 4. 
  6. Apply every 30 days. Regular application is extremely important to increase and maintain effectiveness.

Sunday Application Tips: 

  1. Spray in an up and down motion working quickly to cover your protected lawn area, trees, mulch, and/or bushes until blades and leaves are fully wet. 
  2. Avoid spraying consumable vegetables, flowers, succulents and pollinator friendly plants.

Cited Sources

New York State Integrated Pest Management. Ticks. Cornell University. 

CDC. Regions where ticks live | Ticks. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 

Pest Management University. Best Management Practices For Brown Dog Ticks. University of Florida.

New York State Integrated Pest Management. Monitor for Ticks in Your Own Backyard. Cornell University.

TickEncounter Resource Center. Tick Identification Guide. University of Rhode Island.

American Forests. Tick Checking 101: Steps to Take For Every Hike.