blacklegged tick up close

In recent years, ticks have become a growing concern across the United States, and rightly so! These arachnids can transmit some serious diseases to both us and our pets. However, the diseases they spread varies from species to species. In our service area, the three tick species we must be concerned with are the blacklegged or deer tick, the American dog tick, and the lone star tick. When assessing this threat, it is important to first understand how these ticks can get into our yards. 

If you know anything about ticks, then you probably know that ticks are plentiful in wooded areas. There are a few reasons for this. First, these wooded areas are filled with warm-blooded animals that ticks can use as hosts. The woods also provide an abundance of shade which helps keep the moisture in these areas from being evaporated by the sun; most ticks require a lot of moisture to survive, so this benefits the ticks. These forests usually have lots of tall grass as well which gives them a way to get on animals as they pass by. To climb onto their hosts, they climb to the tops of blades of tall grass and wait with their front appendages stretched out for a host animal to pass by. Lastly, the forest is the perfect breeding area for these ticks. However, unfortunately for us, those ticks don’t stay in the woods.

When ticks first hatch from their eggs, they will search for a host animal to feed on, usually a smaller animal such as a rodent or small bird. If they choose a bird as their first host, those ticks become highly mobile and are able to travel from that wooded area to your yard in just a matter of minutes. This is a problem because those tick won’t stay on the first animal they first chose as their host for long. Once they are ready to molt and become nymphs, they will fall off of their first host begin looking for a larger host to latch onto. And if those ticks drop off in your yard, the next host they choose might just be your dog or cat!

However, if these nymphs fall off in the forest, they are more likely to choose a fox, wolf, raccoon, or some other medium-sized mammal as their next host. If these nymphs find their way onto wildlife animals that are common pests such as raccoons, skunks, and groundhogs, they can be brought into your yard as these animals search for food, water, and harborage.

When these nymphs are ready to develop into their adult stage, they will leave their second host to find a third. Again, if those ticks are in your yard, your pet may suit their needs as a suitable host. In nature, they will be drawn to larger animals like deer. And while deer aren't considered pest animals, they are more than capable of bringing ticks into our yards and exposing us and our pets to these harmful pests. Those adult ticks will then lay their eggs while on their final hosts which will then fall off those host animals as they walk around due to their slippery nature. If these eggs hatch in your yard and are picked up by mice or rats, you could be in serious trouble. These rodents commonly enter man-made structures and, once inside, will explore every floor in search of food, water, and shelter. If they carry tick larvae in with them, those ticks will fall off and search for a new host. And if they can't find a dog or a cat to be their host, they may choose to feed on you instead. This can put you at risk of contracting harmful tick-borne diseases!

Ticks can be brought into your yard during all stages of their development. They can be flown in by birds or introduced onto properties by wildlife animals passing through. But no matter what stage of development they’re in or how they were brought onto your property, once they find their way into your yard, they can then be brought into your home by your dog or cat or be carried in by mice, rats, squirrels, and other invading animals. Inside your home, ticks can get around on their own or can be spread quickly by the animals that are living in your home. Again, this could be your dog or your cat, but it could also be invading mice or rats. On a positive note, squirrels, raccoons, bats, birds, and other invading wildlife animals aren't as efficient at spreading tick eggs and larvae around your home as mice and rats.

Every step you take to control the wildlife traffic in your yard and prevent rodents from getting into your home will help to reduce your risk of contact with disease-spreading ticks. If you need assistance with rodent control and monitoring or tick-reduction services, reach out to us for assistance. Those are just two of the many pest control services we provide!

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