american dog tick

Latin Name: Ixodidae (hard ticks) or Argasidae (soft ticks)


Ticks are members of the arachnid family, not insects, like spiders or scorpions. Like all arachnids, ticks have four pairs of legs and no antennae. A defining feature of ticks is that they are parasites. They eat by attaching to another living creature and slowly sucking its blood. Once attached, they can feed from a host for several days at a time.


Ticks typically live in dense vegetation – places with lots of long grasses, shrubs, bushes, and trees. They’re unable to fly, so they hide in the foliage and wait for a potential host to come by. Once they find something, they’ll jump on, attach themselves, and start feeding

Once a tick has attached to a host, they will feed for long periods of time. It will often take a long time to notice them, and then it can be quite difficult to remove them. Of course, many animals have little or no ability to remove ticks from their body. After several days of feeding, ticks swell and become large, which often makes them easier to find and remove.

Common Types of Ticks in North America

Brown Dog Tick – The brown dog tick is found in the eastern half of the United States along with California. Typically, the brown dog tick is found attached to the ears or feet of dogs, although it is possible for the dog tick to feed on humans. These ticks are generally about 1/8th of an inch in size, and can grow to half an inch after feeding. Dog ticks are reddish-brown. They often hide in places where dogs play, such as kennels. They can also hide in homes in crevices and beneath carpets..

Deer Tick – Deer ticks, also called blacklegged ticks, are similar in size and color to the dog tick. They generally live outside and are often found in forests and heavily wooded areas. They will feed on any warm blooded mammal, including mice, dogs, deer, and people. Their eggs typically hatch in the spring, and they will feed on larger animals as they grow in size.

Ticks and Disease

All ticks can carry diseases which they can transmit to a host while feeding. They can carry many diseases, but Lyme Disease is most commonly associated with ticks, specifically deer ticks.

Removing Ticks from a Body

Removing a tick from a host can be very difficult. Proper removal involves remove the entire head of the tick from the host. Tweezers or medical equipment can be very useful while doing this. It’s important to avoid damaging the tick’s body. While this will kill the tick, it will not help removing it from the host and could cause more exposure to disease. After the tick is removed, put the tick in a container with a lid and wash your hands thoroughly.

Preventing Tick Bites

Avoid ticks. This means staying away from places with significant or overgrown vegetation. Obviously, this would eliminate a lot of outdoor activity. Here are some tips when going to these kinds of places.

  • Wear The right clothing. Try not to leave any bare skin where ticks could easily attach. Wear long sleeves and long pants. Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to avoid exposing skin.
  • Use trails. When possible, stay on walking trails and away from overgrown plants.
  • Check for ticks throughout the day. Occasionally, check your body and clothing for ticks so that you can remove them before they start feeding or cause infections.

Tick Control in the Home

  • Eliminate their habitats. Make your property less friendly to ticks by mowing the grass and trimming bushes. Spray an insecticide such as PCO Choice in your yard to make your outside areas inhospitable. Try to seal cracks in the walls and floors.
  • Check and treat pets. Pets that are allowed both inside and outside the house can easily carry ticks into your home. Regularly using a tick repellent such as TickShield will help prevent this from happening.
  • When ticks are found, kill them immediately. Spread insecticide around your home using foggers such as the Tri-Jet Fogger. Killing ticks before they can attach to a host is just as good as not having them in the first place.

Other Resources

CDC article on Ticks
Wikipedia article on ticks
Wikipedia article on deer ticks
Wikipedia article on dog ticks