Entomology Logo

ISSUE 1   May 5, 2005


Reports of a few tick infestations have been received within the past several days. Tick activity will increase as temperatures warm up in the next few weeks. This will of course coincide with increased human and pet exposure due to more favorable weather conditions for outdoor activities. Major tick activity can occur from mid-April to mid-June in our region. In addition to being nuisance pests, ticks also pose health risks due to their ability to transmit disease. The most common tick in North Dakota is the American Dog Tick. It is known to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia (rabbit fever). Another disease of concern in the region is Lyme disease, which is transmitted by the Blacklegged Tick (sometimes referred to as the "Deer Tick"). Although Lyme disease is more prevalent in the eastern U.S., several cases occur annually in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and about 30 cases have been confirmed in North Dakota since 1982.

Disease symptoms:

Rocky Mountain spotted fever symptoms include sudden onset of headache and flu-like symptoms such as chills, muscle aches, or a fever that persists more than 1 to 2 days. After about four days of illness, a rash may occur. Without treatment, severe cases may progress to delirium, shock, and even kidney failure.

Tularemia symptoms include a red spot at the feeding site on skin that gets larger and becomes a skin ulcer, several cycles of severe fever, swollen lymph nodes in the groin and armpits, headache, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and pneumonia.

Lyme disease begins as a red skin lesion at the feeding site that may or may not expand. It may itch or feel hot, or may not be felt at all. It also may disappear and return several weeks later. Flu-like symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, aches/pains in muscles and joints, low-grade fever and chills, fatigue, appetite loss, sore throat, and swollen glands are also associated with Lyme disease.

People who suspect they may have contracted any of these diseases should seek medical attention immediately.



Personal protection: People planning to engage in outdoor activity in areas likely to be infested with ticks should wear an insect repellent containing DEET (especially from the waistline down). High-risk sites i

nclude tall grass, pastures, and wooded areas. If practical, wear light-colored clothing in these areas because ticks are more noticeable on a light background. To test an area for the presence of ticks, walk through the area dragging a white cloth. If ticks are present in high numbers, a few will likely show up on the cloth after walking through the area for a few minutes.

Pets that pass through tick-infested areas and subsequently spend time indoors will occasionally transport ticks into the home. One tick species, the Brown Dog Tick, can be a major nuisance if brought into the home because it can complete its entire life cycle indoors. High infestations of this species in the home, although uncommon in the north central U.S., sometimes require the services of a professional exterminator. Efforts to keep pets tick-free can be important in preventing these infestations.

Pet protection: If possible, keep pets out of grassy or wooded areas unless they are properly protected. It is also important to be vigilant about inspecting pets closely and often for ticks. Key areas to check include the head and inside the ears. Flea/tick collars or topical treatments (e.g., Bio Spot, Defend, Frontline, One-Spot, and Spot-on) can be effective at preventing pets from becoming infested, and also help with controlling established infestations. If pets become heavily infested, an insecticidal shampoo (available in pet stores and veterinary clinics) will also be helpful. Application rates may vary according to pet size. Some products are labeled specifically for either dogs or cats, but not necessarily both. Permethrin-containing products may pose an elevated health risk to cats, and should be avoided for this use. It is important to pay close attention to labeling on any of these products to ensure pet safety and increase the likelihood of effective tick control. Consult with a veterinarian if considering one of these products to protect a pet that is immature, pregnant, or ill. Some products are only available through veterinary clinics.

Kennels, pet beds, and other quarters in which pets rest should be cleaned and/or treated with an approved pesticide, and the associated bedding should be laundered or vacuumed.

Tick removal from skin: The best way to remove a tick is to use a tweezers. As shown in Figure 1, Grasp the mouthparts near the skin surface, and pull directly outward in a firm but gentle manner. Avoid twisting because it could result in mouthparts breaking off and remaining embedded in skin. Also, do not squeeze the tick’s abdomen while attempting to remove it because pressure on its body cavity may force infectious fluid back into the skin. Apply an antiseptic such as rubbing alcohol or iodine to the feeding site after tick removal to prevent infection.

Figure 1.  Proper technique for tick removal.
(courtesy, Centers for Disease Control)

Tick control measures: Keeping the lawn mowed can help minimize likelihood of ticks lighting on people. Pesticide applications for tick control in the yard should be reserved for extreme cases. Dozens of pesticides are available for managing ticks in the home, lawn, and garden. Refer to the following table for a list of active ingredients and commercial products registered for tick control.

Pesticide Products Labeled for Tick Control*

Active Ingredient

Trade Name(s)


Optem, Tempo


Cynoff, Demon


Annihilator, DeltaEight, DeltaGard, Eliminator, Enforcer, Hi-Yield, Home Exterminator


Knox Out




dozens of products


Excite-R, Kicker, Microcare, Pyrenone, Pyrethrum, Synerol


Saga, Spectracide

*Consult labeling instructions to determine whether a particular product is registered for indoor or outdoor use.

**Avoid use of permethrin on cats.

Always read, understand, and follow pesticide label instructions and precautions.

Mark Boetel
Research & Extension Entomologist



There are reports that grasshoppers that over winter as late stage nymphs are reaching economic levels in scattered areas of central South Dakota. While the problem is not extensive, growers in south central North Dakota should be watching for grasshoppers.

Other areas of potential concern are in the western and south western parts of the North Dakota. Consult the 2004 adult grasshopper survey map produced by the USDA-ARS at:
http://fs-sdy2.sidney.ars.usda.gov/grasshopper/Extras/10_04_AG.htm  and the 2005 hazard map at:
http://fs-sdy2.sidney.ars.usda.gov/grasshopper/Extras/map05.htm  to estimate the potential risk in your area. Continued dry conditions will favor grasshopper survival and outbreaks.

Grasshopper treatment guidelines are:


Nymphs/sq. yard

Adults/sq. yard





















Very Severe





If grasshopper populations reach the threatening level, crop damage is likely. Control measures aimed at grasshoppers in hatching sites are most effective and recommended to minimize the treatment area and cost.

Gary Brewer
Research Entomologist



Potato producers using Actara in their insect pest management program will want to be aware of the following changes to the Label. Aphids have been added to the label. The label rate for aphid control is 3.0 oz./A per application. If necessary, a second application can be made in 7-10 days of the first application. A range for the rate of application has been included for Colorado potato beetles (CPB) and potato leafhoppers (PLH). The label rate for CPB and PLH is now 1.5 – 3.0 oz./A per application. The total application of Actara cannot exceed 6.0 oz of product (0.094 lb. a.i./A) during the growing season. This is an increase from 3.0 oz of product per acre. These changes have been included in the North Dakota Field Crop Insect Management Guide at http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/plantsci/pests/e1143w1.htm . A copy of the approved Actara label is available on the Syngenta website: http://www.syngenta.com.

Denise Olson
Research Entomologist

NDSU Crop and Pest Report Home buttonTop of Page buttonTable of Contents buttonPrevious buttonNext button