- Color: red-brown with white markings on the back.
- Size: 1/8- to 3/16-inch long.
- American dog ticks are hard; mouthparts are easily seen when viewed from above; bodies are flattened and shaped like tear-drops.
- The female’s shield-like area remains unchanged but the rest of her body stretches and changes from red-brown to blue-gray as she engorges (i.e., fills with blood) while feeding.
- Unlike adults with eight legs, larvae have six legs, are 1/32-inch long, and have red markings near the eyes. When unfed, they are pale yellow and have slate gray swollen abdomens. When engorged, they double their size.
- The larvae molt into eight-legged nymphs which are yellow-brown with red markings near the eyes and 1/16-inch long when unfed.
American Dog Tick Habits:
- In June or July, engorged females drop off the host animal and lay from 4,000 to 6,500 yellow-brown eggs in a sheltered location.
- The eggs hatch and the larvae seek rodents or other small animals for their blood meal.
- After molting to the nymphal stage, the ticks once again seek hosts.
- Engorged nymphs molt to the adult stage which usually feeds on dogs or other large mammals.
- Development time (egg to egg): can be completed within three months, but each stage is remarkably resistant to starvation; the life cycle may be prolonged for as much as two years.
- Life span of unfed adults: two to three years.
- A very common pest of dogs east of the Rocky Mountains, they readily feed upon a variety of other animals, including humans.
- Larval and nymphal activity begins in March and continues until mid-July.
- Adults are usually active in the spring when they are found in “waiting positions” on vegetation along paths and trails.
- They are unable to complete their life cycle indoors.
Damage From American Dog Ticks:
- Transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Can cause tick-induced paralysis if they attach near the base of the neck.
- American dog ticks survive for only short periods indoors and thus are seldom a problem with houses except when they occasionally fall off infested dogs.
How to Control and Kill American Dog Ticks:
- Indoors, most ticks should be removed by vacuuming.
- Remaining ticks should be controlled by applying a residual spray or dust where the dog is most often found.
- Ticks on the pet should be controlled on the same day that the house is treated.
- Outdoors, debris and ground cover around the house should be removed to discourage rodent and other small animal activity.
- Rodent populations should be eliminated by using traps, tracking powders, and/or baits.
- Tick harborages and questing areas should be removed by mowing the grass and by removing and cutting high grass and weeds along paths or near areas frequented by humans and their pets.
Personal Protective Measures:
- Individuals who work and/or spend recreational time in tick-infested areas should wear light-colored long sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into their socks.
- Clothing and skin should be treated with repellents.
- Individuals should be checked for ticks after returning from tick-infested areas and the ticks removed before they attach to the skin.
- Attached ticks should be removed carefully so that the head is not broken off and left imbedded in the skin.