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Tick Season is Here!

Tick Identification



Watch for Ticks!

 While I was Camping at Cross Ranch during Memorial Day weekend, it was difficult to go far without finding another tick crawling up my leg! The same was true this week when I spent the week at ND 4-H Camp near Washburn. Here are some handy facts about ticks to keep you safe this summer.

 In North America, there are about 14 species of ticks. Three species are found in North Dakota: American dog tick ,  Rocky Mountain wood tick, and winter tick . Of these, American dog tick is the most common species. Lyme disease is vectored by the black-legged tick, also known as deer ticks. Fortunately, the black-legged tick does not occur naturally in North Dakota, but may be brought in from neighboring states.

 Ticks are blood-feeding external parasites of several mammal species, including humans, dogs, cattle, and horses. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts that are inserted through the skin of their host and into vascular tissue. Once engorged with a blood meal, a tick will drop off its host to mate, lay eggs, or continue development. The life cycle of ticks is comprised of four distinct developmental stages: one inactive stage - egg, and three active blood-feeding stages - larva, then nymph, and finally adult. Adult males and females require several days of feeding, after which the male copulates with one or several females and then dies. Adult females drop to the ground after mating and begin laying eggs. Females die after laying eggs. Eggs are laid on the ground in masses of over 1,000 eggs and require several days to develop depending on environmental conditions. There is probably one generation per year for American dog tick and winter tick in North Dakota. Rocky Mountain tick has a two to three year life cycle. These ticks probably overwinter as larvae or nymphs. Pathogens, including the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, may be present in their saliva and are transmitted as they feed on the person or animal.

The best way to prevent tick infestations around the home is by keeping lawns mowed (height of 3 inches or less) and removing high grass, weeds, leaf litter, and undergrowth near the home. Property that borders woodlots typically presents the most risk, with tick numbers generally declining as you move farther from the woods. Ticks require high humidity to survive and do not do well on lawns or fields that are routinely exposed to direct sunlight. Wild animals (deer, birds, mice) and pets can transport ticks long distances and into your yard or home. Chemicals (pesticides) that kill ticks can be applied to your yard as a last resort if large numbers of ticks are present. The critical point is the timing of application to target early life stages (nymphal/larval ticks), usually early June. This can help reduce the number of ticks later in the season. Some of the pesticides that are effective for controlling ticks by homeowners are listed below:

1.      Carbaryl (Sevin): A commonly used garden inseciticde. Available as a spray or granule for ticks on turf and recreational areas.

2.      Cyfluthrin (Tempo, other brands): Labeled for tick control on turf and ornamentals. 

3.      Deltamethrin (Suspend, DeltaGard G): Available as a spray or granule. Labeled for tick control in residential areas where ticks may be found

4.      S-fenvalerate (Zema Lawn Spray): Labeled for tick control on turf and ornamentals.

5.      Permethrin (PermaKill 4Week Tick Killer): Labeled for use against ticks on the lawn.

 Liquid formulations of pesticides will kill nymphs in spring, larvae in summer and adults in the fall; whereas granular formulations of pesticides are more effective on nymphs that are overwintering in the fall or larvae that are hatching in the early summer.

 Remember to practice personal protective measures as well. Wearing long sleeves and long pants to prevent ticks from reaching your skin. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant cuffs into your socks or boots. Use an insect repellent containing DEET on any exposed skin and clothing to repel ticks. Permethrin can be spray onto clothing. Finally, be sure to check your clothing and body carefully for ticks when you’ve been outdoors.

To remove an imbedded tick properly, use a fine forceps and grasp the capitulum (head) as close to the wounds as possible, and then apply a steady upward force until the tick is free. If part or all of the mouthparts (hypostome) remain in wound, it can be treated as a sliver. DO NOT use petroleum products to remove a tick, squeeze the body, or heat tick with a match. (From Dr. Janet Knodel and submitted by Jackie Buckley Morton County Extension Agent)

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