Ticks are relatives of spiders, scorpions, and mites. In order to survive they feed on the blood of a host, a mammal, bird or reptile. The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis in our area) goes through many stages during its life cycle, and feeds on different species at each point. It is important to note that some stages of the tick life cycle are more dangerous times for humans to be bitten by ticks than others.
Larvae live and feed on animals (mice, deer, squirrels, livestock, and any humans who enter the tick habitat) for about a week before detaching then molting (shedding) anywhere from 1 week to 8 months later. The larvae then become 8-legged nymphs (stage 3).
Nymphs feed on animals, engorge for 3 to 11 days, detach, and molt about a month later (depending on the species and environmental conditions). A tick in the nymphal stage is probably the most dangerous to humans. That is because they are still quite small and difficult to detect on you, they are just about the size of a pinhead or about 1.5mm). They are also more dangerous because they have already had a blood meal and are now at greater risk of being infected with Lyme disease and, in turn, able to transmit it to humans.
Ticks can be found year-round but are most prevalent in the warm summer months. They are parasites, and as a result, are on a continual quest for a host. If a host is not available, a tick can survive up to a year without feeding.
Ticks transmit a number of diseases as a result of feeding off both human and animal hosts. Examples include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Q Fever, Tularemia, Tick Paralysis and Meningoencephalitis.
How Do Ticks Enter My New Jersey or Pennsylvania Home
Ticks often prefer certain hosts over others, resulting in names as Deer Tick, Cat Tick, American Dog Tick, Bat Tick, Bird Tick, etc. The family pet is a popular carrier of ticks, which unfortunately results in a tick entering a home. After feeding for a few days, a female tick will drop off of her host to lay eggs. Ticks seek out tiny crevices in which to store their eggs, which can result in a full-blown infestation of your home. Attempting to rid your home of the tick infestation can be difficult and frustrating, as eggs can hatch months later, long after you think you have the situation under control. For the best results in combating a tick infestation, contact a professional pest control company.
Treatment of Ticks
You can reduce the number of ticks on your property by following these tips:
- Keep your lawn mowed short. Ticks are less likely to infest well-manicured lawns that receive plenty of sunshine.
- Reduce tick harbourage sites around your property. Ticks prefer damp, moist, shady areas in your yard where they can hide under groundcover, leaf debris or high grass. Modify these areas of your lawn to lower tick populations.
- Don’t skip that fall and spring clean-up! Reduce hiding areas for ticks like leaf piles around your lawns and gardens.
- Consider deer fencing. If deer populations are high on your property then you are at a greater risk for having ticks. Consider installing deer fencing around your yard’s perimeter to stop deer from entering your yard.
- Hire a pest management professional to treat target areas of your property as well as your yard’s perimeter for ticks to reduce tick numbers.