Tick season is fast approaching. Are you and your pets ready?
If you aren’t or even if you think you are ready for this up coming tick season, our newsletter this week is to update and remind all pet owners about the 5 most common species of tick, as well as introducing a brand-new tick species that has been brought over to the United States.
The five most common tick species to us and have been in circulation over the centuries since coming to light is The Lone Star, The Gulf Coast Tick, The American Dog Tick, The Deer Tick (also known as the black-legged tick) and The Brown Dog Tick. All of these tick species have been seen throughout the U.S. and all of these specimens bring deadly diseases with them. Check out the cliff notes below for the low down on each tick, where they can normally be found, and what diseases they commonly carry.
- The Lone Star Tick: Amblyomma americanum
These very assertive and aggressive ticks will hunt down their hosts. Most will wait patiently on a shrub or bush, but more times than not they have actually been caught chasing after their intended host for a blood meal.
Season: Start to come out and be prevalent around early to mid-February
Identifiable Markings: Just as the name describes, this tick species has one light tan spot on the very center of their body.
Geography: Historically they were originally only found in the Southern U.S. but as the years have progressed, they have now been recorded in most of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S.
Diseases most commonly transmitted: Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, cytauxzoonosis, rickettsiosis, tularemia, coxiellosis (Q fever), heartland virus, bourbon virus, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI)
- The Gulf Coast Tick: Amblyomma maculatum
These very large and aggressive ticks like to hang out on blades of grass and other vegetation in order to grab at anything that passes by. Once they grab on to a passing host they immediately start to feed.Season: Starts to appear as early as mid-February
Identifiable Markings: Long front appendages and a light tan upper thorax while the rest of the body is the typical medium to dark brown.
Geography: The south, by the Gulf Coast of course, but they have been moving North to include the Central East Coast, and states such as Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio.
Diseases most commonly transmitted: American canine hepatozoonosis, most prominently (transmitted by ingestion)
- The American Dog Tick: Dermacentor variabilis
This slightly smaller species of tick may have ‘dog’ in the name but that’s not the only host they decidedly get their meal from. The American Dog Tick can and will infest cats and urban wildlife such as, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, and squirrels, so these ticks can come from a variety of hosts and drop into your own backyard.
Season: They start seeking hosts as early as February
Identifiable Markings: Similar to the Gulf Coast Tick, this species is identifiable by its long front appendages while it has a light tan crescent moon style ring around it’s upper thorax.
Geography: Most of the Northern Americas except in the higher elevated areas such as the Rocky Mountains and areas of the extreme Southwest.
Diseases most commonly transmitted: Rocky Mountain spotted fever (primary vector), tularemia, tick paralysis, cytauxzoonosis
- The Brown Dog Tick: Rhipicephalus sanguineus
This species of tick primarily prefers to feed off of dogs through all of it’s life stages, but it can also survive a much lower humidity than other species. It is the only tick species in North America that can infest buildings, including our homes.
Season: Year-round since it can dwell within our own homes, other buildings, and kennels. It loves carpet and upholstery
Identifiable Markings: This species is smaller, more rotund than it’s cousins, with a dark almost invisible pattern on its thorax.
Geography: Anywhere there are dogs, so even Canada and Alaska!
Diseases most commonly transmitted: Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis (in Hawaii and the Caribbean), hepatozoonosis, babesiosis
The Deer Tick (Black-legged Tick): Ixodes scapularis
This species of tick is more known in the Minnesota area, commonly found in tall grasses, shrubs, woody areas, and any medium height brush.
Season: Mid-May through mid-July, adult stages of this species are a little more active in September and October as well
Identifiable Markings: Deer Tick or the Black-legged tick, is commonly known for the dark brown to black spot just behind the ‘head’, also as the name describes they are darker in color on the legs than their tick cousins.
Geography: Midwest states as far as Illinois and Iowa all the way down to Texas, across to Florida and even as far north along the East Coast as Rhode Island. There are even reports of the Deer Tick over on the west coast in places such as Washington, Oregon, and all of California.
Diseases most commonly transmitted: Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus
Now these are the most common tick that people associate with while out and about while hiking, camping, fishing, or even just taking a stroll through your neighborhood. However there has been some light shed on another tick species that has most recently been introduced here in the United States.
- The Asian Longhorn Tick: Haemaphysalis longicornis
This new species of tick to now grace the estimated 900 tick species already documented in the U.S alone, brings a variety of problems along with it. Originally native to East Asian and has already been proven to be a significant invasive species in New Zealand, Australia, and some Pacific Islands, now has been showing up in places around the East Coast such as New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The introduction of this new tick species is uncommon and the exact route in which these little buggers are taking in order to cross into parts of the United States is still a mystery but many are under the impression that they are using livestock as a means of transportation.
Identifiable Markings: The Asian Longhorn Tick actually doe not have any distinct markings besides their dark brown color and they are approximately pea-sized when fully engorged
Season: This tick species is able to adapt and survive in both warm and cold climates, so for them its their season all year round
Geography: As we have been informed so far, many of the cases reported have been along the East Coast but they have been found as far inland as North Carolina and West Virginia
Diseases most commonly transmitted: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, rickettsiosis, theileriosis and a variety of viruses. Numerous cases have been published detailing the Asian longhorned tick parasitizing humans. While disease transmission from the tick has yet to be reported in humans or nonhuman animals in the U.S., transmission is well-documented in other countries.
As more details come to light about this new tick species, we will keep everyone informed. Until such time please make sure that as the weather warms up and you start to take your furry friends out for their daily strolls or you let them out of the house to get some fresh air, you double and triple check for ticks of any species. If not on it already it is advisable to make sure your furry friends are on flea and tick preventative as well to help save later hassles when dealing with these eight-legged buggers.