Ticks are a serious concern for Bristol area residents. This is because this troublesome pest is known for spreading various diseases, some of which are potentially life-threatening.
Ticks commonly found in Bristol include brown dog ticks, black-legged ticks, groundhog ticks, lone star ticks and American dog ticks. Most frequently, they attach themselves to domesticated pets and wildlife, but they also may take a human host. When they find a good food source, they may stay attached for days, and females may lay eggs. What begins as a small incursion may become a full-fledged infestation unless comprehensive steps are taken.
It is not easy to stop the tick life cycle without the help of an experienced exterminator and professional pest control may be the only reliable way to end the infestation for good.
Being part of the arachnid family, ticks are therefore close relatives of spiders. This means that their appearance is similar in that they have eight legs and no antennae. Also, they are not equipped with wings. The shape of the body tends to be flat and oval until the tick feeds, which causes it to appear inflated or swollen.
The brown dog tick gets its name from the reddish-brown color of its body and its tendency to attach itself to domestic dogs. Before a meal, most are about six millimeters long. Larger females may reach 12 millimeters or longer after a meal.
The black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, is similar in appearance to the brown dog tick. This is because their bodies tend to be reddish-brown. However, their legs are black as their name implies, and they are smaller at just three to five millimeters in length.
Groundhog ticks are even smaller, with females being similar in size to a sesame seed. Females usually are reddish-brown with a dorsal shield in a darker color. Males do not have this darker dorsal shield.
The six-millimeter long lone star tick typically is a grayish brown. However, it has a distinctive white marking on its abdomen that looks like a star, which gives this pest its name.
American dog ticks are similar in size to lone star ticks. By contrast, their body color is a dark reddish-brown with markings that may be white or gray.
Ticks take blood meals from a mammalian host. Wildlife such as possums, raccoons, rabbits and deer frequently serve as hosts. However, when dogs, other domestic pets and people walk through tick-infested areas, then they can easily become the next meal for a questing tick.
PROBLEMS WITH TICKS
Unlike other pests, ticks are not destructive. Nonetheless, many people are disturbed by the thought of having these arachnids in their homes where their pets and family members may be hosts. The single greatest concern related to ticks is that they are well-known for spreading a number of highly infectious diseases.
When they are not attached to a host, ticks are most likely to be found in wooded or brushy areas that feature plenty of tall grass and weeds. They cling to the weeds or grass, waiting for a potential host to happen by. It is rare to find most species of ticks indoors unless they are attached to a host.
PROBLEMS WITH TICKS
Many people are troubled psychologically by the presence of a blood-sucking arachnid. Additionally, a tick bite can be painful, itchy or cause general skin irritation. The real problem with the tick, however, is that they carry and transmit illnesses. Some of these, like Lyme disease, can be serious and difficult to treat.
Ticks cannot fly or jump. This means that they must walk or climb to get to where they need to be to find a host. In a process called "questing," the tick will use its rear legs to cling to a blade of grass or the stalk of a tall weed. It reaches out with its forelegs when it senses a mammal walking by.
Once contact is made, the tick looks for a promising place on the mammal's body to attach itself. Generally, they begin at the lower leg and wander upward in search of an ideal spot. The tick may spend as much as two hours preparing to feed. It burrows its head under the victim's skin before inserting a feeding tube. Then, a mixture of chemicals is released that is designed to thin the blood and numb the skin. Feeding may take as long as two or three days, with females sometimes swelling to twice their unfed size.
Ticks are most often active in the summer, but they can be a problem in mild winters as well.
Numerous health issues are associated with ticks. The most well-known of these is Lyme disease, which is typically spread by the black-legged tick. Symptoms may include a bulls-eye shaped rash, extreme fatigue, aching joints that also may be stiff or swollen, headaches, fever, sleep disturbances and cognitive decline.
Other illnesses that are commonly associated with ticks include Tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis and anaplasmosis. While some ticks may not be infected and therefore unable to spread any illnesses, others are capable of spreading more than one disease at a time.
SIGNS OF A TICK INFESTATION
Indications of a tick problem include:
• Engorged ticks found on pets
• Discovering ticks attached to someone's skin
• Ticks found in the folds or along the seams of clothing after being outdoors
• Unexplained bite marks on people or pets
The following precautions should be taken to help protect against ticks:
• Wear long sleeves and long pants when walking through areas with tall weeds and grasses
• Check clothing for ticks before returning home
• Examine pets for signs of ticks before allowing them inside
• Use an insect repellant when outdoors
• Wear insect-repellant clothing
• Tuck the hems of pants into boots or socks
• Check for ticks every two or three hours when spending considerable time outdoors
Ticks are a serious threat to health and hygiene. People may remove attached ticks from themselves or their pets using a pair of tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin and the attached head as possible.
Simply removing a single tick from a host likely will not be enough to eliminate the problem. It can be difficult to determine whether or not additional ticks are present and if eggs have been laid. A female may lay as many as 4,000 eggs, which makes it essential to interrupt the tick life cycle.
A professional exterminator is a valuable ally who can determine whether or not ticks are infesting the property. If so, then treatment methods can begin immediately. If not, the technician may make recommendations concerning how to protect people, pets and the property.
SafeGuard uses only the best professional products available for tick eradication. Our licensed technicians have the experience to implement successful treatment procedures.
SafeGuard Pest Control recognizes that a tick infestation is a serious issue. Due to the number of diseases these pests cause, SafeGuard recommends that business or homeowners who suspect a tick problem to schedule a free inspection.