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TICKS IN GENERAL

Ticks have spiracular plates, known as stigmatal plates, surrounding the external opening of the respiratory system. These plates are broad and located between the third and fourth pair of legs. Ticks are commonly found on pet dogs and cats, but can be found attacking people.

There are two categories of ticks, hard ticks and soft ticks.

HARD vs. SOFT TICKS

Hard ticks have the capitulum (the area where the head and mouthparts are located) exposed and easily noticeable from above. The top of their body also has a distinctly sclerotized shield or scutum.

Soft ticks have a rather nondescript sac-like shape. The front part of the body extends forward, beyond the capitulum, thereby concealing it when seen from above. The soft tick does not have a scutum and the exoskeleton has a leathery texture.

HARD TICKS

BROWN DOG TICK

  • Size (Unengorged): 1/8 inch long
  • Size (Engorged): 1/2 inch long
  • Shape: Body flattened dorsovertrally (top to bottom)
  • Color: Reddish brown, but when engorged can change to gray-blue or olive.
This tick is commonly found on dogs. Although this is the species most commonly found indoor, it rarely attacks man. It can be found throughout the United States and the world.

AMERICAN DOG TICK

  • Size (Unengorged): about 3/16 inch long
  • Size (Engorged): up to 5/8 inch long and 3/8 wide
  • Shape: Oval, dorsoventrally flattened
  • Color: Brown with whitish to grayish markings on scutum
      This tick gets its name because it is found only in North America and domestic dogs are its preferred host. Although not normally a structural pest, it is often found on dogs and readily attack humans. It can be a vector for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN WOOD TICK

  • Size (Unengorged): About 1/8 inch long
  • Size (Engorged): Up to 5/8 inch long and 1/2 inch wide
  • Shape: Body oval, dorsoventrally flattened
  • Color: Brown, becoming grayish when engorged
This tick is found primarily in the Rocky Mountain states and the preferred habitat is the woods to meadow/lawn transition zone. Although not a structural pest, this tick is the primary vector for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as Colorado Tick Fever and tularemia.

BLACKLEGGED / DEER / BEAR TICK

  • Size (Unengorged): About1/8 inch long
  • Shape: Oval, dorsoventrally flattened
  • Color: Orange brown except the legs, which are dark
The preferred host is the white-tailed deer. This tick is very important because it is a vector of Lyme disease. They are found primarily in the northeastern, midwestern, and southeastern states in the United States, but extend into Mexico as well.

SOFT TICKS

COMMON FOWL TICK

  • Size (Unengorged): About 1/8 to 1/2 inch long
  • Size (Engorged): Up to 1/2 long and 1/4 inch wide
  • Shape: Body oval but wider behind, flattened dorsvoventrally with definite impressed line separating top and bottom. No eye present.
  • Color: Brown, but turns bluish when engorged
      This is an important parasite of fowl, especially poultry. They are a concern because they will attack humans in poultry houses as well as when they occasionally invade homes near poultry houses. They are vectors of avian spirochetosis in fowl. They are most common in southern states.

RELAPSING FEVER TICK

  • Size (Unengorged): About 1/4 to 3/8 inch long and 3/16 to 1/4 inch wide
  • Shape: Oval, flattened dorsoventrally
  • Color: Gray, turning a deep red with grayish blue tint when engorged
      These ticks are a major vector for relapsing fever in the southern and western United States.

For treatment for ticks, check out Pestdude's TICK TREATMENT page.

If you have any questions, please ask Pestdude!