Ticks and Tick Control

ticksThere are several species that vary in appearance, but all of the adults are small, round with eight legs. All ticks feed exclusively on the blood of vertebrates. There are two families of ticks: hard ticks and soft ticks. They have four stages in their life: egg, larva, nymph and adult.

Mating usually occurs while adult ticks ar on the body of the host animal. The female then drops to the ground and deposits her eggs. When they are at the larvae stage, they are called "seed ticks" with six legs. They attach themselves to a host, after receiving a blood meal, they drop to the ground and emerge as eight-legged nymphs.

Tick Bites and Diseases

Ticks can carry serious diseases. According to the CDC, more than 23,000 human cases of Lyme disease were recorded in 2002, with an estimated 9 out of 10 cases going unreported. This disease was first recognized and reported around Lyme, Ct. in 1975. Since then, three areas in the United States are now identified where this disease organism is known to occur naturally. These are the Northeast(in coastal areas from northern Virginia to southern Maine), the northern Midwest (Minnesota and Wisconsin), and the West (parts of California, Oregon, Utah, and Nevada) Most cases occur in the northeastern United States, but cases have been reported in at least 49 states and federal health agencies (CDC) report that Lyme disease accounts for 95% of the reported vector-borne illnesses in the United States. Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete(a type of bacteria-Borrelia burgdorferi) that affects humans and their pet dogs, as well as wildlife species. In the eastern and midwestern United States, this disease organism is caused principally by a hard tick, which commonly attacks white-tailed deer and some rodent species. In the Pacific coastal areas is caused by a similar bacteria called Ixodes pacific us.

These ticks have a two-year cycle. Control against this tick in your yard would be the same type of control suggested for the Brown Dog Tick. They commonly attach to the animal's body, after feeding they drop to the ground in search of protective areas. The areas should be sprayed with a residual insecticide.

Lyme disease and tips for prevention are found on the CDC web site.

Once infected with Lyme disease, a person may experience flu-like symptoms and develop a red rash in the shape of a bull's eye. Because the symptoms of Lyme disease so closely mimic the flu, it often goes undiagnosed and can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated.

Tick bites also cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, Human granulocytic and momocytic ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, relapsing fever, Tularemia and Q fever.

Brown Dog Tick

Click on photo to enlarge
Photo courtesy of University of Florida

The Brown Dog Tick is the most widely distributed ticks in the world. It is unusual among ticks, in that it can complete its entire life cycle indoors. Because of this, it can establish populations in colder climates and has been found in many different climates.

Brown dog ticks can be found outdoors in the southern USA during any time of the year but found active outdoors during the warm months in the northern USA. This tick cannot overwinter in the more northern United States except within a heated structure.


It is small, red-brown in color, uniform in color. Its mouthparts are easily seen when viewed from above. The body is flattened and shaped like a tear drop.


Many tick species can be carried indoors on animals, but cannot complete their entire life cycle inside. Dogs are the preferred host in the US . The adults attach to the ears and between the toes, and the larvae and nymphs are often found in hair along the back, however, are not restricted to these parts. Once an infestation occurs inside a home, it can grow very rapidly. Typically, a few ticks are brought into the house or from an infested kennel, open field or another place where tick infested dogs have been located. A home can become infested if the family dog picks up ticks from an infested residence, boarding kennel, open fields, or similar place where other infested dogs have been located. Another infested dog may visit the residence, during which time some ticks may drop off. In this case, the home and yard may become infested even though a dog is not generally kept there. After the ticks have engorged on a blood meal, they drop form the host and seek some protected situation in the immediate surroundings.For this reason, they may be found behind baseboards, under window and door moldings, in window pulley openings, or in furniture.

  • All cracks and crevices in an infested premise must be treated for good control. All tick life stages may be found behind baseboards, around window door moldings, or in furniture. Newly hatched larvae can climb, so all cracks and crevices need to be treated.
  • Dogs do not become infested with brown dog ticks by direct contact with other dogs.
  • Ticks feeding on a dog, drop off and molt before they will resume host-seeking behavior and attach to another dog.

Tick Control

  1. The infested house and kennel should be thoroughly cleaned to eliminate as many ticks as possible. Vacuuming is very helpful inside. Pet bedding and pet areas should be cleaned well.
  2. Kennels, dog houses, and structures occupied by pets should be thoroughly treated to control ticks that have dropped off the dog, and that reside in harborage areas.
    Residual insecticide sprays and dust should be applied carefully to all potential tick harborage areas.

Where Ticks Reside

Ticks like to reside in crack and crevices, behind baseboards, window and door frames, upper portions of structures, and the localized areas used by dogs. They will move to avoid detection. They don't have the same type of larvae, like the fleas; you do not have to broadcast as a surface spray over the entire surface as you would spray for a flea treatment.

Recommended Products Inside

  • Residual Insecticides: Recommended residual insecticides inside would be Bifen IT, Conquer or Pivot Ultra Aerosol . Mix the Conquer (1 oz per gallon of water) or Bifen IT ( 1 oz per gallon of water). Spray the edged of the room and pet areas. If you have hard floor surfaces, the Pivot Ultra Aerosol would adhere to the surface better and it is ready to use.
  • Non-Residual, Contact Sprays: Non residual space sprays that contain Pyrethrins such as CB 80 may be useful to supplement the residual sprays. It may used on a daily basis and is a contact killer.
  • Insecticide Dusts: Drione Dust (for pet bedding) or D-Fense Dust-in cracks and crevices (Not on pet bedding). Infested pet bedding should be washed.

For pets

The dog must be treated with a product labeled for ticks. Fipronil, Permethrin and Pyrethrins are common active ingredients for tick control on dogs or cats.

  • Fipronil:
  • Permethrin 10%
    • Martin's Permethrin 10% Insecticide-May be used as a dog dip; one pint will yield 25 gallons as a dip. May not be used on cats. It may also used on livestock and it controls flies as well as ticks.For use on cattle, lactating dairy cattle horses, swine, poultry and dogs.
  • Pyrethins- Pyrethrin is a contact, non-residual active ingredient. Pyrethrin is an organic product that comes from Chrysantheum flowers
    • Martin's Flee Plus IGR-Flee Plus IGR Trigger Spray controls infestations on dogs and cats by killing fleas and ticks for up to 30 days.
    • Flee Plus IGR for Dogs-Flee Plus IGR for Dogs is a spot treatment for dogs, comparable to Frontline Plus. It kills ticks (brown dog ticks, American dog ticks, lone star ticks and deer ticks), and chewing lice.
    • Flee Plus IGR for Cats-Kills ticks including those that may transmit Lyme disease Kills brown dog ticks, American dog ticks, lone star ticks, and deer ticks for up to one month for cats.
    • Pure Planet Natural Flea and Tick Spray On Shampoo Pure Planet Natural Flea and Tick Spray On Shampoo is an alternative to harmful chemicals. This Eco-friendly product with clove and cottonseed oil safely and naturally kills fleas and ticks on contact. It is safe to use around children and pets

Tick Repellents

  • Ben's 100 Deet Tick and Insect Repellent -Ben's 100 Deet is 98.11 % has the largest amount of DEET available for a spray on repellent to be applied in areas of high bug density with insect biting activity. One application will last up to 10 hours.
  • Ben's 30% Deet-repels mosquitoes and ticks; water based formula, made to evaporate slowly, so repellent stays on longer with little absorption into the skin
  • Ben's Clothing and Gear-With 0.5% Permethrin, Ben's Clothing and Gear helps to keep biting insects such a mosquitoes and ticks off your gear and clothing. The unique formula of Ben's Clothing and Gear will bond to fiber that lasts up to two weeks.

Recommended Products Outside

For the outside: Bifen IT or Permethrin SFR should be applied to grassy and bushy areas near the house or kennel, the edges of lawns and gardens, under porches, and other areas where the dog travels or spends time. It is usually not necessary to treat the entire yard. One way to determine the extent and locations of tick presence is by using a white cloth such as a pillow case. Drag it along the grass, and brush it up onto foliage. Stop to check the presence of the ticks. Shrubbery up to a height of 2-3 feet should be sprayed. Nonchemical methods of treatment include keeping the grass mowed, removal of bushy areas and fencing to keep deer away.

  • Bifen IT -Mix 1/2 - 2 ounces per gallon; use 1-3 gallons (depends on density of vegetation) per 1,000 square feet.
  • Permethrin SFR- mix 0.5 oz to 0.8 oz to 4 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet


American Dog Tick

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Dogs are the preferred host of adults of this tick species, but they will feed on larger animals.

This tick is a carrier of the causal organism of :   Rocky Mountain spotted fever.


Symptoms appear 3 to 12 days after tick contact. There is a sudden onset of symptoms that include fever, headache, and aching muscles. A rash usually develops on the wrists and ankles on the second or third day of fever. The rash then spreads to involve the rest of the body, including the palms and soles. If you experience fever following tick contact, see your physician. It is important to receive the appropriate antibiotics as soon as possible if spotted fever is suspected. Most fatalities can be attributed to a delay in seeking medical attention. It occurs throughout the easter and central United States.

  • The American dog tick goes through an egg, larva, nymph, and adult stage during its development.
  • While they may be found throughout the year, adults are most active during late April through May.
  • The immature stages may feed on these same hosts but prefer to infest smaller mammals such as meadow mice, squirrels, and chipmunks.
  • All stages of the American dog tick will also feed on humans if given the opportunity.
  • They do not transmit Lyme disease.
  • Although dog ticks do not carry Lyme disease, they are the main carrier of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the midwest states.

Control of American dog ticks in outdoor areas is extremely difficult. While several insecticides are labeled for outdoor tick control, they are usually not effective in eliminating large numbers of ticks in brushy, heavily wooded areas There are, however, some management techniques that can discourage a buildup of ticks in these areas. Modifying the habitat is a more permanent approach to tick management.

Since ticks must be in areas of high humidity to survive, they are most commonly found in grassy, brushy, wooded, and shaded areas. Therefore, reducing the humidity in these areas by keeping grass well-clipped, removing brush, and pruning trees to allow more sunlight to penetrate to the soil surface will discourage ticks from becoming established in these areas.

Insecticide sprays could be sprayed with limited results.

Bifen IT, Conquer, and Permethrin SFR are recommended products.