The roughly 850 different varieties of ticks can be divided into two broad categories: hard, or Ixadidae, and soft, or Argasidae.(1) These pests are the blood sucking anthropods that transmit the widest range of human ailments, including Lyme disease and rocky mountain spotted fever.
One of the more common forms of ticks is the deer tick.(2) One of this species’ favorite areas is the margin where a field meets a wooded area, but they can also populate open swaths of grass. Ticks often jump onto dogs and cats when these animals roll around in the grass, at which point they are often mistaken for fleas.
If a tick grabs onto human prey, they must be attached for at least 24 hours in order for bacteria to be transmitted. If a feeding tick is found on the skin, the best way to remove it is with tweezers. If other popular methods such as nail polish or Vaseline are used, they may cause the tick to regurgitate its gut contents. It’s as gross as it sounds.
Once a tick is removed with tweezers, the area where the tick was found should be treated with disinfectant. Tick repellent products can also be applied to shoes, socks, and the bottom portion of pants, to discourage the pests from jumping onto a human carrier during a stroll in the park or hike in the mountains.
There are many veterinarian-endorsed preventative products such as Frontline that can be used by pet owners to kill and keep away ticks.(3) However, it’s important to follow all instructions and make sure for example that dog pesticide products are not used on cats, and vice versa.
There is also a need to be extra careful when the pet is weak, older, sick, pregnant, or nursing. Another common sense bit of protocol is not to use tick-killing products on puppies and kittens. Steam cleaning, vacuuming, and even creating “tick free” outdoor landscape areas are all also examples of effortless ways to kill or keep away troublesome ticks.
(1) University of California at Davis – Background Information on the Biology of Ticks, Retrieved June 26, 2011 from http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/faculty/rbkimsey/tickbio.html
(2) University of Rhode Island – Deer Ticks, Retrieved June 26, 2011 from http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/deerticks.html
(3) Environmental Protection Agency – Taking Care of Ticks on Your Pets, Retrieved June 26, 2011 from http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/factsheets/flea-tick.htm