There are all kinds of ticks that roam the earth and nobody likes the idea of coming into contact with any of them. As a matter of fact, the very idea of being bitten by a tick is enough to make most people’s skin crawl, quite literally. There’s just something about these little multi-legged creatures that look not unlike a spider, only they attach to you and suck your blood. It’s like having all of your worst nightmares come true in one creature. The worst part is that they can be on you and bite you before you even know it and in some cases, they’re so small that you can barely even see them.
There are actually hundreds, if not thousands, of tick species. Fortunately, there are only a relatively small number that you actually need to concern yourself with. These are the ones that are capable of transmitting disease. Just to keep things interesting, it’s important to note that there are constantly new breeds that are being discovered, not to mention ticks expanding into new areas so you have to pay attention in order to keep you and your pets safe.
If you’re wondering which types of ticks are capable of transmitting disease, the most prevalent is the brown dog tick. This is the one that you probably see most often. It’s achieved its name because it usually ends up on dogs and it is brown in color. More than likely, this is the tick that you commonly see when you’re pulling them off of your pets or off of you, especially if you live in the Eastern or Central portions of the United States or in California. They’re extremely prevalent and like almost all ticks, you can find them in wooded areas, places where grass is growing high and yards are not maintained, and other areas that are not frequently sprayed for ticks. In other words, you should check your pets and yourself for them anytime you walk outside, but especially if you plan on going for a hike in the woods.
Another tick that you need to look out for is called the lone star tick and just as the name implies, you’ll be able to tell what you’re looking at because it has what looks like a white or a silver spot right in the middle of its back, resembling a star. These ticks are a little bit bigger than the brown dog tick and you have to be careful around them because they’re capable of transmitting a disease known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Like the brown dog tick, they also transmit tularemia and are capable of transmitting Lyme disease.
Last but certainly not least, watch for the big gray soft ticks. These ticks don’t look anything like the other two that have already been discussed. They don’t have a hard shell on their body and they are almost always gray in color, although they can sometimes be a very pale brown. These ticks also transmit the same diseases as the one discussed above, with the exception of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Another reason that you need to watch out for them is that when they get very large and they look like they’re almost to the point of exploding, the females will actually detach from whatever they have been feeding off of, crawl off into some area where you’re not likely to find them, and hatch dozens upon dozens of little babies. As you can see, if this happens in your house and you don’t catch it before she hatches those babies, you could end up with a tick infestation that you don’t want.
How can you prevent disease? The idea isn’t to board yourself and your pets up inside your home and refuse to go outside, nor is it to refrain from having pets in the first place. Fortunately, there is effective tick control that you can use on your pets which will virtually stop the ticks from attaching to them and biting them. It’s also a good idea to have your yard sprayed at least once a year and in most cases, twice annually. Whenever you’re going for a walk outside, wear DEET based insect repellent along with hiking boots and pants that are tucked down inside those boots. Of course, you should examine yourself and your pets for ticks before coming inside. If you do notice that one is attached, remove it immediately. Doing all of these things reduces the chances that you or your pets will become ill because of a tick bite.