There are two families of ticks that makeup the majority of the ticks in the Northeast. Hard and soft ticks. The major differences are the reproduction cycle. Hard tick females have one blood meal and can produce 10,000 eggs then die. Soft tick females will feed and then lay 20-50 ticks, feed again lay another batch and repeat. In the Northeast the most common hard ticks are the Brown Dog Tick, American Dog Tick and the Deer Tick.
Ticks are very good at hitchhiking. They can sense your vibration, shadow and CO2 as you approach. Ticks wait in areas ideal for a blood meal in a specific position called questing. They have hooks on their legs that are held up and out to hitch onto a passing meal.
The three main ticks in the Northeast all have 8 legs as adults, require 2 years to mature from egg to adult and differ in size for the most part. You can easily identify a tick embedded in your skin as it becomes engorged with blood. They all have 4 life stages egg, larva, nymph and adult. Once the egg hatches the larva needs to seek a blood meal, most often mice or other small animals. The ticks in the Northeast will molt after the first blood meal and winter as nymph under leaves or other natural debris protected from winters cold weather. In the spring the nymphs emerge and look for another blood meal. With the meal complete they will molt into adults and look for another blood meal and start the reproduction process.
Precautions and Dangers
Ticks can transmit various tick borne human diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Another less common threat is tick paralysis. A condition that develops during feeding and can result in death but the symptoms disappear rapidly when the tick is removed. When you work outside in a brush or leaf area you run the risk of a tick hitchhiking on your clothes. This is why you should always, if possible wear long sleeves and pants preferable light in color. Tape the pant cuffs tight to your legs to stop ticks from climbing up onto your skin. When you complete the outdoor activities you should remove all clothing and shower. When drying off perform a tick check on all parts of your body. At this stage you are looking for just the tick. In 24 hours stay alert for engorged females.
The first step in control is inspection and education. Our pest management professional will inspect your yard and identify the problem areas, areas that should have brush or shrubbery cut back and other non-pesticide items that naturally keep ticks away from your home. Then we treat the “hot” areas which are most likely to have a population of ticks. Treatments and inspections are repeated 2 additional applications for traditional treatments and every 3 weeks for organic treatments.