Deer Tick with Tweezers and Dog CollarThe Deer Tick, also known as the Blacklegged Tick, is a hard bodied blood-sucking parasite from the Ixodes Scapularis family. They are known to carry Lyme Disease. The Deer Tick is quite small, about the size of a Sesame Seed, making it hard to see. Larvae and Nymphs are much tinier.

Before a Deer Tick feeds, it will appear primarily black, sometimes with a bit of brown on the lower torso. Its legs are black, which is why it is also called a Blacklegged Tick. When the stomach is engorged, it will look like a completely different tick due to the size and the light gray/blue color the abdomen becomes.

Deer Ticks are hard bodied ticks commonly found in the eastern and Midwestern parts of the United States in forested areas. They will hang on tips of grass or sit on leaves along trails to make it convenient for them to climb into the hair or up the skin of its new host. In fact, this tick will reside anywhere in the U.S. where White Tailed Deer are found.

About Deer Ticks

Deer Ticks tend to appear more abundantly in the early spring or during the fall. From May to July, nymphs will develop. In general, these ticks have a two year life span. The stages it will pass through include larval, nymph and adult. In order to graduate to each phase of life, the tick must drink blood. The female attaches to a host and will drink for approximately five days.

Although Deer Ticks prefer White Tail Deer, they will not turn down animals such as small rodents and especially humans.

Hibernation and Reproduction

As the fall winds down, female Deer Ticks will seek a food source before hibernating for the winter. Due to their hardy nature, ticks are not thwarted by moderate to severe frosts. If they have not finished preparing for the winter months, they will bounce back as the temperatures rise throughout the day in order to find a host.

When a Deer Tick has sufficiently eaten enough blood for the next few months, it will bury itself in debris along the forest floor to hibernate through the winter. This usually takes place in late fall after the first couple of frosts.

When spring comes, the Deer Tick is often one of the first invertebrates to become active. At this time, females will produce anywhere from hundreds to over a thousand eggs. They will form into small clusters under leaves and forest debris.

Between the months of May and July, these clusters will begin hatching and the Larvae will emerge.

Before its first feeding, a Deer Tick will have 6 legs. After the first feeding, they will molt and hibernate, developing two more legs prior to emerging for a second feeding. One nice fact to note is that if the tick is in a larval state, or only has six legs, it will not be able to infect its host with Lyme Disease. The Larval stage, therefore, is the best time to eliminate the problem before infestation becomes an issue.

Complications

Although Deer Ticks are the main carriers of Lyme Disease on the North American continent, they are also known to transmit other bacterial diseases and parasites. For example, they carry a bacteria that can cause Ehrlichiosis which brings symptoms such as high fevers and aches throughout the body. These symptoms usually show up within a week of being bitten by a tick and are easily treated with antibiotics.

Another infection that may develop following a bite is Anaplasmosis. This acts much the same as Ehrlichiosis, but the micro-organisms are quite different. If a person believes he or she has been infected from a tick bite, he or she should seek medical assistance immediately. Although symptoms may be mild, the diseases that a tick carries can be quite serious and should be treated with caution.

Where to Check for Ticks

Although Deer Ticks will generally be found at the edge of subdivisions or near forested areas, they are not limited to these areas. If people live along a country road, or there are large grassy areas, ticks can accumulate. Dogs pick them up quickly during walks or excursions at the park. They can be found in the yard in the grass, on leaves, even in flower beds.

When checking pets, it is necessary to comb through the fur, especially along the neck, abdomen and legs. Prior to taking pets for walks or exposing them to the outdoors where ticks may be a factor, they should be treated for ticks. Upon returning from a long walk, if there is any reason to suspect the pet may have picked up ticks, it is wise to thoroughly clean and treat the pet, if this has not been done already.

For humans, check the neck, along the base of the scalp, around the ears, and in any crevices where a tick might hide. Removing the tick should be approached with care because it the tick is crushed or punctured, it may secrete fluids into its host that can cause diseases. The best way to remove the tick is with a set of tweezers. Do not leave any part of the tick in the host, such as the head, because this can cause infection as well.

If there is any chance you have an issue with Deer Ticks (Blacklegged Ticks) on your property, take action now. Think about your health and that of your family and pets. Stop the problem before it becomes an infestation.  Contact Alliance Pest Services your local tick control expert in Monmouth County.