It’s smart to take precautions against ticks when you’re out in the wilderness, but do you keep an eye out when you’re in the backyard, too? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 70 to 80 percent of the people who contract Lyme disease in the United States get bitten right outside their homes. Learn a little bit about the most common types of ticks you might find in your neck of the woods:
- American Dog Tick (Wood Tick)
The American dog tick is common throughout the eastern half of the United States, as well as along the Pacific Coast. Unfed males and females are reddish-brown and about 3/16 inch long; females have a large silver spot behind the head, and males have fine silver lines on the back. American dog ticks are commonly found in areas with little or no tree cover, such as fields, and along walkways and trails. These ticks feed on dogs and medium-sized mammals, like deer, but will bite humans as well. Nymphs and adults can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
- Blacklegged Tick (Deer Tick)
The blacklegged tick is a common transmitter of Lyme disease, babesiosis and anaplasmosis in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. It’s also found in the South but is less likely to spread human disease because of different feeding habits. The adult blacklegged tick feeds primarily on white-tailed deer but will also bite humans and small mammals. Adults are reddish-brown and about 1/8 inch long (about half the size of the American dog tick). It’s found in wooded areas around trails.
- Lone Star Tick
Lone star ticks are found in the Southeast and East in the United States. Adults seek larger animals, including dogs, deer, cattle and humans, to serve as hosts. They hide in tall grass or at the tips of branches and twigs. Female lone star ticks have a single white dot in the center of their brown bodies; males have white spots or streaks around the outer edge of their bodies. Nymphs and adults can transmit pathogens that cause ehrlichiosis and tularemia in humans.
- Brown Dog Tick
Brown dog ticks are found throughout the entire United States. This tick’s primary host is the dog, but it can also bite humans or other mammals. It is found in kennels or hiding in cracks, under rugs and furniture and behind draperies in homes with dogs. They can spend their entire lives indoors. The adult brown dog tick is reddish-brown and about 1/8 inch long. Although it’s a common carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, this tick only rarely transmits disease directly to humans.
Reduce your exposure to ticks to best reduce your risk of contracting a tick-borne disease. If you’re planning to spend time doing yard work outdoors, use an insect repellent first. Repel® Tick Defense aerosol, for example, is a picaridin-based formula that repels ticks and mosquitoes for up to 10 hours. You can also treat with a lawn insect control like Spectracide® Triazicide® Insect Killer For Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate to take care of listed ticks in the grass.
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