Deer Tick Identification - common name for Ixodes scapularis. Although these parasites feeds on the blood of a host and can transmit infectious disease, similarly to a flea, deer ticks are part of the arachnid family (like spiders and scorpions). The Adults have eight legs (larvae have six), have no wings, no antennae and are found mainly on deer. They are also often referred to as the black-legged tick. The adult males are black in color and the females have an orangey-red abdomen and a black dorsal shield (scutum). The nymphs are more translucent and a lighter brown in color.
What do Deer Ticks look like? - They are extremely small and the adults are only the size of a pin head. The species found on both dogs and cats are much larger. The female adults swell a lot larger after feeding on a blood meal, and can reach between 5-10 mm in length. The color may then appear a lot redder (due to the amount of blood consumed). On the ends of the legs are claw-like features that allow them to grasp onto a host. Hosts are predominantly deer; however they will also happily feed on cattle, horses, dogs and humans. Their larvae and nymphs can feed on a number of rodents, such as mice, rats and squirrels.
What is a Deer Tick and where are they found? - They are found in areas of long grass, woods and meadows where the environment is good for reproduction. There are four stages to their life cycle (egg, larvae, nymph and adult) and as already established they require more than one host to mature. Once the female adult has fed and mated, they drop off the host and lay eggs. The eggs hatch to larvae and the larvae search for a small rodent or other suitable host to have their first meal on. Once fed, they fall off, moult and the nymph emerges (with eight legs). The nymph must then have a further blood meal (on a larger host) and this then falls off, moults and develops to an adult tick.
Deer Tick and Lyme Disease - This specie is better known for the disease that it can spread. As a vector of Lyme disease, the deer tick can be a dangerous and harmful parasite. This disease can not only be transmitted from animal to animal, but also to humans, by those tics that carry Borrelia bacteria. The deer tick symptoms of Lyme disease (or Lyme Borreliosis as itís also known) can be rashes, headaches, fevers, fatigue, joint pain and chills. As these are very much like the symptoms of flu, it is important that you mention to the doctor if you have been bitten by a tick or it may be misdiagnosed. The rash can appear circular with a clearing in the middle and show up all over the body. If treatment isnít sought quickly, long term problems with the heart, facial paralysis and meningitis can develop.
Deer Tick Prevention and Control - Although the chance of a bite cannot be completely eliminated there are several preventions and controls you can put in place. Always wear a suitable repellents when outdoors in areas where ticks are prevalent. Plant repelling plants and shrubs around the parameter of your property to keep deer away, put up fencing or other barriers and stop any pests (which could be infected) from coming near you, your family or your pets. Maintain a clean yard, mow lawns short, and keep bird tables away from the home and outdoor areas where you may spend time. Regularly check your body and your pets for parasites and if you or they have a bite, seek medical assistance immediately if any illness occurs.