American dog ticks are found over most of North America, predominantly along forest edges and in areas with little or no tree cover, such as grassy fields and scrubland, as well as along walkways, sidewalks, and trails. American dog ticks are 3-host ticks (use 3 different hosts in their lifecycle) feeding on people and a variety of animals ranging in size from rodents to livestock. Adult stages prefer medium-sized hosts, including racoons, skunks, cats, dogs and other canids. Larvae and nymphs mainly infest small mammals including mice, voles, rats, and chipmunks. Nymphs and adults can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and lesser pathogenic spotted fever group germs as well. They also transmit the germ causing Tularemia. American dog ticks can survive for up to 2 years at any given life stage if no host is found.
Adult males and females are active April-early August in most regions, and are mostly found questing in tall grass and low lying brush and twigs. Adult American dog ticks commonly attack humans, typically climbing to the crown of the head. Male ticks blood feed briefly but do not become engorged with blood. After a brief (1-2 day) attachment, males detach and wander on the host in search of an attached feeding female to mate with. Females can take one week or more to completely engorge. Once replete, female American dog ticks detach from their host and drop into the leaf litter, where they can lay over 4,000 eggs before dying. Nymphs and larvae rarely attach to people or pets. Larvae are most active biting rodents in May and June while nymphs are most active in July and August.
BLACKLEGGED TICK Ixodes scapularisWHERE FOUND Widely distributed across the eastern United States.TRANSMITS Borrelia burgdorferi and B. mayonii (which cause Lyme disease), Anaplasma phagocytophilum (anaplasmosis), B. miyamotoi disease (a form of relapsing fever), Ehrlichia muris eauclairensis (ehrlichiosis), Babesia microti (babesiosis), and Powassan virus (Powassan virus disease).COMMENTS The greatest risk of being bitten exists in the spring, summer, and fall in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic. However, adult ticks may be out searching for a host any time winter temperatures are above freezing. All life stages bite humans, but nymphs and adult females are most commonly found on people.
BROWN DOG TICK Rhipicephalus sanguineusWHERE FOUND Worldwide.TRANSMITS Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain spotted fever). Primary vector for R. rickettsii transmission in the southwestern United States and along the U.S.-Mexico border.COMMENTS Dogs are the primary host for the brown dog tick in each of its life stages, but the tick may also bite humans or other mammals.
GROUNDHOG TICK Ixodes cookeiWHERE FOUND Throughout the eastern half of the United States.TRANSMITS Powassan virus (Powassan virus disease).COMMENTS Also called woodchuck ticks. All life stages feed on a variety of warm-blooded animals, including groundhogs, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, weasels, and occasionally people and domestic animals. Photo courtesy of Steve Jacobs, PSU Entomology
GULF COAST TICK Amblyomma maculatumWHERE FOUND Distributed primarily in the southeastern United States, with focal populations in the northeastern, midwestern, and southeastern United States.TRANSMITS R. parkeri (R. parkeri rickettsiosis), a form of spotted fever.COMMENTS Larvae and nymphs feed on birds and small rodents, while adult ticks feed on deer and other wildlife. Adult ticks have been associated with transmission of R. parkeri to humans.
SOFT TICK Ornithodoros spp.WHERE FOUND Throughout the western half of the United States, including Texas.TRANSMITS Borrelia hermsii, B. turicatae (tick-borne relapsing fever [TBRF]).COMMENTS Humans typically come into contact with soft ticks in rustic cabins. The ticks emerge at night and feed briefly while people are sleeping. Most people are unaware that they have been bitten. In Texas, TBRF may be associated with cave exposure.O. hermsi tick, before and after feeding. Photo taken by Gary Hettrick RML, NIAID.
Also known as the wood tick, the American dog tick gets its name from the fact that adult ticks prefer to feed on domestic dogs, coupled with the tick species being found only in North America. The American dog tick is a member of the hard tick family, meaning that it possesses a hard exterior shield. American dog ticks are known to harbor bacteria responsible for causing diseases in humans such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is spread when they suck blood from their host. Exposure to these ticks is most likely to occur during spring and early summer.
Oval and flattened in shape, American dog ticks are brown with whitish to gray markings. As larvae, they have six legs while nymphs and adults have eight. These extremities allow them to effectively crawl through their environment, as well as animal fur and human hair. Depending on whether or not they have fed on host blood, American dog ticks can range in size from 5 mm to 15 mm.
If an American dog tick has bitten either a household member or a pet, you may have cause for concern. Additionally, properties with tall grass and outdoor pets are more likely to attract American dog ticks. Sightings, in places such as gardens and potted plants, signal a potential infestation, as these are common areas for females to lay their eggs.
American dog tick bites can cause itching, fever and, in some cases, tick paralysis. Be on the look out for the development of rashes near the tick bite, as this is the primary symptom of tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks are not able to feed immediately after latching on to a host, as their mouthparts require several hours to imbed deeply enough to feed. This makes it very important to promptly remove a tick from the skin at first sight.
In order to avoid being bitten by an American dog tick, apply an insect repellent containing an EPA-registered ingredient, such as DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Also, consider wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light colored so ticks will be easy to detect, and tuck pants into socks. To get rid of ticks and limit risks indoors, inspect clothing and skin when heading inside. Immediately wash any clothes worn outside.
Homeowners with outdoor pets and tall grass are at higher risk for coming into contact with American dog ticks. In order to prevent any type of infestation, make sure to keep grass around the home well-trimmed, and inspect pets and people closely after outings. If you suspect a tick problem on the property, contact a licensed pest control professional.
It is thought that American dog ticks are attracted by the scent of animals, so they are common along roads and trails. They also prefer grassy areas with low vegetation where larger mammals pass by. These pests thrive in areas where grasses, bushes and plants are accessible to humans. While American dog ticks choose habitats that maximize their exposure to potential hosts, they can survive for about 2-3 years (1,053 days) unfed. Adult American dog ticks prefer to bite domestic dogs and can therefore be brought into the home and potentially transferred to humans.
The American dog tick is the primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), which is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsia. According to the CDC, Rocky Mountain spotted fever has been a nationally recognized condition since the 1920s. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include high fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches. A rash that may spread across the extremities occurs in some cases. It usually develops 2-4 days after the fever begins. The disease is treated with antibiotics, but can be fatal if left untreated.
Another disease American dog ticks are known to transmit is tularemia, which is caused by the bacterium Fracisella tularensis. It is transmitted from rabbits, mice, squirrels and other small animals. Symptoms include fever, chills and tender lymph nodes. An ulcer may form at the tick bite site.
In addition, American dog ticks can cause tick paralysis, which can lead to severe respiratory distress and muscle weakness in those affected. If you believe you have contracted one of the American dog tick diseases mentioned above, please call a healthcare professional.
With more Americans expected to hit local trails and parks amid the COVID-19 pandemic than years past, experts at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) are cautioning trailblazers to keep alert for ticks.
Dermacentor variabilis, also known as the American dog tick or wood tick, is a species of tick that is known to carry bacteria responsible for several diseases in humans, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia (Francisella tularensis). It is one of the best-known hard ticks. Diseases are spread when it sucks blood from the host. It may take several days for the host to experience symptoms.
Though D. variabilis may be exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, these ticks are not competent vectors for the transmission of this disease. The primary vectors for B. burgdorferi are the deer ticks Ixodes scapularis in eastern parts of the United States, Ixodes pacificus in California and Oregon, and Ixodes ricinus in Europe. D. variabilis may also carry Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the causative agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the causative agent of human monocytic ehrlichiosis.
The life cycle of ticks can vary depending on the species. Most ticks go through four stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the egg, a tick must obtain a blood meal at every stage to survive. Ticks can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Unlike most tick species, D. variabilis prefers the same host during all of its life stages. 59ce067264