Ticks are parasitic arthropods. They have eight legs, a round but flattened body and usually brown or black shade, and you’re their dinner. More succinctly your blood is dinner, but to get that dinner they must inject saliva to thin the blood, along with some very nasty diseases. Of course, not all ticks spread disease. The most common of these are the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease. The culprit is the black legged deer tick, that is also the vector for Anaplasmosis. So what ticks do we have in the Pittsburgh area?
Common Ticks Found in Pennsylvania
• Groundhog Tick as the name indicates attach themselves to ground hogs, they also can be found on small birds and other mammals, including us. It is associated with the transmission of Powassan Disease. The groundhog tick will feed on warm blooded mammals in their larvae, nymph and adult stages. Not necessarily associated with human, or at least rarely.
• Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick as mentioned is the vector for Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis. Males are brown, but females have an orange-red abdomen. Deer ticks prefer larger animals.
• American Dog Tick, younger ticks prefer some mammals like rodents and birds. Dogs, cats and you are sources for nourishment. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, tularemia and known to cause tick paralysis. Reddish-brown.
• Lone Star Tick adult male has a reddish body with black veins, while the red body of the adult female has a white dot on the back. They can cause an allergic reaction to red meats, specifically alpha-gal meat allergy, not very patriotic for a bug called Amblyomma americanum. The Lone Star tick is a vector for numerous disease, most are bacterial.
Tick Management Tips
It is bad enough to know you may have encounters with ticks in the woods, but you really don’t want them as neighbors. To deal with these little monsters you must:
• Be knowledgeable where to expect ticks. Grassy, bushy or wooded areas, and on your pets and wild animals.
• Traveling in the woods, pretreat your clothing with permethrin, use on boots, clothing and camping gear.
• Avoidance is the primary tactic when dealing with ticks, but insect repellents also help.
• On returning home check clothing for ticks. Wash your clothing in hot water or just tumble dry on high heat to kill the ticks.
• A good shower within a couple of hours of returning indoors reduces the risk of Lyme disease, also a good time to do a tick check.
• Check your body:
o Under the arms
o In and around the ears
o Inside the belly button
o Back of your knees
o In and around your hair
o Between your legs
o Around your waist.
If you see one, there are more likely others. Ticks represent a major health hazard to yourself and your family. If you see a tick contact your pest control professional as soon as possible. Experiencing a major tick infestation of your home is not a pleasant experience. Weakened immune response and lack of immunity in the elderly and children make them especially vulnerable to tick borne diseases. The problem with many tick borne diseases is that the symptoms manifest themselves, sometime weeks after exposure and some can be fatal, or at the very least greatly debilitating. If you expect ticks, call the pros at Stewart Termite and Pest Control.