The three most common ticks in the eastern Carolinas are the deer (black-legged) tick, the American dog tick and the lone star tick.
Only deer ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. They can also carry the germs that cause babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis. Young deer ticks, called nymphs, are brown and the size of poppy seeds. Adult female ones are red and black, while males are black. Adult ones are about the size of a sesame seed.
American dog ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Dog ticks are reddish-brown and larger than deer ticks. Deer and dog ticks are most active during the spring, early summer and fall.
Lone star ticks can carry the germ that causes human monocytic ehrlichiosis and are another rash illness that has been seen in over 20 other states. Adult female lone star ticks have a white dot on their back and are similar in size to deer ticks. They are most active from April through July.
Common Facts about Ticks:
- 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.
- Ticks can carry serious diseases.
SIGNS OF INFESTATION
Tick infestations can occur when even a single tick is brought into the home.
If you have wooded or brushy areas near your home and are outdoors when the weather is warm, it is possible for you to come into contact with a tick. The tick will attach itself somewhere on your body and bury its head in your skin. Ticks can attach themselves anywhere on the body—including under the arms, inside the ears, in the hair and inside of the belly button. Ticks can also attach themselves to your pets.
If you or a pet brings a tick into your home, a tick infestation may occur once it reproduces. Ticks can lay their eggs in different parts of the home and since they are very small, they may not be easily noticed. Ticks typically lay their eggs in cracks and crevasses in floorboards.