blacklegged tick on leaf

Blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks, are known carriers of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the bacterial species that causes Lyme disease. This is a pathogen that affects humans, dogs, and cats. If not treated early, Lyme disease can transition into a chronic form and lead to lifelong health complications including heart diseases and neurological disorders. It is never good to allow these ticks to live in your yard. Here are a few more things you should know about these dangerous arachnids.

The Good News

  • Not every blacklegged tick that bites you will give you Lyme disease. Only ticks that have been exposed to the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi are a threat. These ticks acquire this bacterium by biting an animal, usually a small animal, that is carrying it.
  • Blacklegged ticks feed slowly. It can take 3 to 5 days for one of these ticks to get a blood meal. For this reason, it can take 24 to 48 hours before enough bacterium has transfered to produce the symptoms of Lyme disease. If caught early and removed properly, Lyme disease can be avoided.
  • Tick reduction services provided by a pest control professional can significantly reduce tick populations in your yard and sharply reduce exposure to tick-borne illness. When this pest control service is combined with personal tick prevention, tick disease can be avoided.

Personal Tick Prevention

  • Ticks don't fly or jump. They latch on and climb up. Often, tucking pant legs into socks and wearing bright-colored clothing can prevent these ticks from finding a meal.
  • Mosquito repellent does a great job of repelling ticks. If you spray it on your pant legs, you can keep ticks off.
    Ticks prefer tall grass and areas where there is an abundance of shade and damp ground. Avoiding these areas can help you avoid picking up ticks.
  • If you have a dog or a cat, it is vital that you have veterinarian-prescribed tick control products. Pet owners are at a much higher risk of contracting tick-borne diseases.  

More Bad News

  • About 1 to 5 blacklegged ticks, on average, are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. This percentage is strikingly high.
  • Lyme disease is not the only disease spread by blacklegged ticks. The CDC links this and other ticks to a wide range of dangerous diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan virus disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, babesiosis, tularemia, and more.
  • While blacklegged ticks take a host, they don't stay on one host. In their larval stage, they will climb onto small animals such as rodents and birds. But, as they develop, they will fall off and seek larger animals as hosts such as dogs and cats. They're even known to climb up on humans, which means you can carry them into your home.
  • Blacklegged ticks are very small, especially as newly hatched seed ticks. They're easy to miss when they crawl up.
  • Ticks are highly mobile because they choose birds as hosts. It doesn't take but a few short minutes for young ticks to get from forested areas to your backyard.

Understanding the Rodent Connection

When dealing with the threat ticks pose it is important to understand how ticks and rodents work together to expose you and your pets to diseases.

  • A single mouse can have as many as a hundred ticks on its body.
  • Often, rodents are the reservoir ticks contract the bacterium from.
  • Rodents don't just bring ticks into your yard, they can also bring ticks into your home.
  • When a rodent brings ticks into your home, they are usually ticks in the larval stage. That means those ticks will eventually jump off that rodent and search for a larger host to feed on.
  • If you attempt to get rid of a tick infestation without removing the rodents that brought them in, you will not be successful.

We hope this article has helped you put this threat into perspective. Blacklegged ticks are a serious threat that we all must take into consideration but we don't have to fear these ticks. With proper precautions, we can protect ourselves. If you need assistance with this, remember that the team here at Russell's Pest Control is standing by to help.


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