Learn More Information About Where Ticks Live & How to Protect Your Property
As the temperature outside warms up, tick season kicks into high gear. These tiny pests often hijack summer fun as more people and pets spend time enjoying the great outdoors. Camping, hiking, gardening, walking, and hanging out in parks are all beloved summer activities that increase the odds of discovering ticks on your skin, clothing, and pets.
More than just a nuisance, ticks can potentially spread at least 20 different types of diseases, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Additionally, the number of ticks carrying dangerous illnesses is growing each year, increasing the threat of Lyme disease, Powassan disease, tick-related meat allergies, and more.
Tick Habitats & Facts
For much of the country, including the Northeast, tick season kicks off in March and runs through the fall until temperatures drop below freezing. Learning where ticks live is a good first step toward protecting yourself and the people you care about from these unwelcome parasites.
Hundreds of different species of ticks live around the globe, with approximately 90 of those species located in the United States.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) point out that only a few species bite people and pose a risk of transmitting diseases. The CDC created a map to illustrate where some of these problematic ticks live, although it’s important to note that some species can be found outside the areas where they normally live as the pest spreads to new areas.
The Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases (NEVBD) indicates that some of the common ticks found in the Northeast include:
- American dog tick: These ticks live throughout most of the S. east of the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes called wood ticks, these ticks typically bite more during spring and summer.
- Black-legged tick: Commonly referred to as the deer tick, it can be found on the East Coast. These ticks typically bite in spring, summer, and fall, although they have also been known to search for hosts during warm winter weather.
- Brown dog tick: These ticks can be found throughout the entire country. They commonly bite dogs but have been known to bite humans too.
- Lone star tick: This aggressive tick was once found primarily in the south but is now spreading throughout the East and Northeast.
- Asian longhorned tick: This invasive tick species has been found in 14 states, most commonly along the eastern Atlantic coast.
Do Ticks Live in Trees or Grass?
Ticks don’t live in trees. There’s a common misconception that people can unwittingly be exposed to ticks that fall from trees.
However, ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from above. If you find a tick on your arm, neck, or head, it’s far more likely the tick climbed up your body.
These pests are ground-dwellers who like warmth and humidity.
Some ticks, including the American dog tick, prefer living in tall grassy areas. Others, such as the lone star tick, live in wooded areas with underbrush. Deer ticks thrive in grass and leaf debris. A select few tick species, such as the brown dog tick, prefer indoor environments like dog kennels, furniture, and the spaces between walls.
A tick will wait for a host by perching on the tips of grass blades, shrubbery, or other low-lying surfaces. Factors like body heat and breath alerts ticks to the presence of animals and people. Once a potential host brushes up against the area where the tick waits, it climbs on and makes itself at home.
It’s important to note that some critters, like the white-footed field mouse, are known to carry ticks. This mouse species are terrific climbers and swimmers, which can be quite problematic for property owners.
White-footed mice, like many other mice species, play a key role in the transmission of Lyme disease. Once a tick becomes infected with the virus, it can become passed to people and animals through a tick bite.
And thanks to nuisance wildlife, ticks are able to travel much faster than on their own and can reach their new host with ease.
Tick Life Cycle
The tick life cycle can last two to three years, depending on the species. Most tick species have four stages of life: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, adult.
For the tick to progress from stage to stage, it must feed on a host, which can include mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. Some species, including the brown dog tick, prefer feeding on the same type of host at each stage of the life cycle. Others, including deer ticks, choose different types of hosts at different life cycle stages.
Eggs are laid by the thousands in sheltered areas with leaves and brush on the ground. Once the eggs hatch, the six-legged larvae feed on small hosts like birds and mice. Larvae tend to stay low to the ground where there’s plenty of shade and moisture to provide shelter and hydration.
As the ticks grow into nymphs and eventually adults, they begin to look for larger hosts to feed upon. After the ticks have their fill of their hosts’ blood, they will detach from the hosts and return to their habitats until they need another feeding.
This cycle continues for the rest of the tick’s life cycle.
How to Keep Ticks Away from Your Home
Ticks are more than just a nuisance — they are a menace and pose a real threat to humans. The CDC estimates that more than 475,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, and tick-borne diseases are continuing to spread.
Ticks can carry parasites, bacteria, and viruses that are passed on to those who are bit, like humans, animals, even livestock.
Protect Yourself from Carrying Ticks Home
While you are outdoors, there’s a chance that you could end up with a tick bite. The rising number of tick-borne diseases emphasizes the need for prevention and protection. While enjoying the outdoors, protect people and pets with these tips:
- Cover up with clothing that covers the arms and legs. Tuck pants into socks, then minimize openings and gaps between clothing and skin.
- Wear light-colored clothing that helps make ticks more visible.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or a repellent containing a minimum of 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Walk in the center of paths and trails, keeping away from underbrush, shrubs, and tall grasses where ticks may wait for their next victims.
- Check clothing, skin, and hair on humans and pets to spot ticks before they have a chance to bite and transmit diseases.
Protect Your Outdoor Space
Having a deeper understanding of where ticks live can help you better manage a property. Make outdoor spaces less hospitable for ticks with these tips:
- Clear dead leaves and debris.
- Mow the lawn regularly and clear brush from around the edges of buildings and the lawn.
- Stack wood in a dry area to discourage tick-carrying rodents from moving in.
- Install fencing to keep wildlife, like deer, out of the yard.
- Keep all outdoor living equipment, playground equipment, patios, and decks clear of the edges of the yard and tree cover.
Even after taking precautions, you will still need professional help to deal with a tick infestation.
Catseye Pest Control has a one-of-kind Organic Tick & Mosquito Control program designed to inspect, treat, and revisit properties monthly during tick season. Our priority for customers is to get rid of ticks and keep them away from homes, businesses, people, and pets.
This helps to create a relaxing atmosphere so that outdoor living spaces can be enjoyed.
Contact us today to learn more about tick control or to schedule a free inspection.