Latin Name: Ixodidae (hard ticks)/ Argasidae (soft ticks)
Ticks are arachnids that live solely on the blood of animals—and sometimes humans. Tick bites can range from mild nuisance to serious medical condition; and while most tick bites are harmless, on rare occasions, tick bites can transmit serious illnesses like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, relapsing fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis (and even more in pets).
Ticks can stay attached to their host for days, even weeks, after the initial bite. The longer a tick stays attached to you or your pet, the higher the chances are of contracting an illness or other infection (ticks removed within 36 hours rarely cause disease or infection). In other words, if you or your pet gets bitten by a tick, you need to remove it as soon as possible.
Hiking, camping, dog-walking—any outdoor activity in or around tall grass can leave you the host of a tick. It’s important to check both yourself and your pet for ticks after engaging in any activity that might have exposed you to these parasites. Ranging from the size of a pinhead to 2/3 of an inch, ticks can be brown or red and even white and blue-green (especially after feeding)—but in all cases, ticks can easily go unnoticed. Especially when searching your pets for ticks, it’s crucial to take your time and be thorough.
What To Do If You Have a Tick
There are countless myths and old wives’ tales concerning how to remove a tick—some involve burning the parasite with a match, others advocate suffocation with solutions like alcohol and even peanut butter. However, most of these tips are incorrect and, if used, can actually lead to additional complications like infection. Instead, consult our How To Safely Remove A Tick post for a step-by-step guide on how to properly (and naturally!) remove a tick.
How To Prevent Tick Bites
Prevention is the only foolproof method of avoiding ticks. Before and after you and your pet engage in outdoor activities during tick season, it’s advisable to apply a non-toxic insecticide and repellent to both yourself and your furry friend. It’s also generally a good idea to treat your yard for fleas and ticks during the warmer months of the year.