Tick Classification Guide
There are few pests quite as terrifying as ticks. Thanks to the media coverage in recent years, they’ve only become far more terrifying than most people ever imagined. Understanding the types you may be facing, though, can help you prevent problems.
Type of Ticks
One of the most important things you can remember is that there are a number of different kinds of ticks out there with which you may have to deal. Here are the most common types in Massachusetts.
Deer Ticks (Sesame Seed Tick):
Terribly tiny, yet terribly potent, deer ticks are one of the many types you want to worry about. They reach only the size of a sesame seed at the end of their life cycle, but they have the ability to transmit Lyme disease, which makes them quite dangerous. They live for just two years, and feed exclusively on animal blood. They can only transmit Lyme disease at two points during their life cycle, and they have to remain attached for at least twenty-four hours to transmit the disease.
You’re most likely to see this tick, and it’s also the biggest of those that fall into the Eastern Wood Ticks category. It has eight legs, and it’s typically a brown color with a hint of red. Usually it has white or yellow markings. Males and females are about 1/8 of an inch in length, but when the females take their blood meal, they grow to nearly a half inch in length. They will sit on the top of a plant, waiting for a host to brush by, then latch on. These ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as Lyme Disease.
Lone Star Ticks:
This is actually the least dangerous of the tick population. It can cause the Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (or STARI, for short), which may be accompanied by fever, headache, and muscle pains, as well as a rash, but it is not a lasting condition. It’s far from harmless, though, as a bite from this type of tick can actually create a meat allergy in humans. They are a light brown or reddish color, and the females have a single white dot in the center of their body. Males have spots or streaks of white on the outer edge of the body.
Brown Dog Ticks:
Unlike many other types of ticks, these can complete a whole life cycle in your home, so pets bringing them into the house could create an infestation quickly. They are very small, reddish-brown in color, and have an elongated body that many other ticks do not. They prefer to feed on dogs, but will feed on any mammal. It is rare for this type of tick to cause disease in humans, but they can create health problems for pets.
If you do seem to have a tick infestation on your hands, whether in your yard or in your home, the single best thing you can do is contact a professional pest control company for help.