What Makes Ticks Tick


June 12, 2014

Headshot: Dr. FrishmanThe mistake many technicians make with fleas and ticks is lumping the two together as parasites and trying to use one product to control both.

The term ticks refers to a group of species. The same is true with fleas. Remembering this is imperative.
For now, let’s stick with ticks. If it’s the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), for example, the life cycle usually is completed indoors, so the entire control program can be focused indoors (plus the veterinarians treating the dog). The exception is if the dog travels in the vehicle or spends a lot of time outdoors near the structure. There are reported cases of brown dog tick larvae and adults feeding on humans.

The ticks we encounter requiring exterior management steps include black-legged, American dog (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) and Lone Star species (now found to carry the newly discovered Heartland virus). Control is aimed at the exterior, as all of these ticks must complete a portion of their life cycle on wild animal hosts found outdoors.

These ticks are referred to as multiple host parasites. If any of these ticks were to deposit their eggs indoors, steps are needed to eliminate the newborn larvae, which wouldn’t be feeding on the pet or human.

Photo: ©iStock.com/Henrik_L

Photo: ©iStock.com/Henrik_L

I once learned the hard way how ticks can attack you within seconds. As a student at Purdue University, I took a bird identification/habitat study course. While hiking through a field, I deviated from the class to collect insects (it’s in my blood). I came across a dead possum infested with maggots. As I bent down, more than 200 American dog ticks attached to my pant legs and started climbing. Hundreds more were making their way across the grass to join the hunt.

Backing off quickly, I brushed a few ticks into a vial — but then had to concentrate on brushing off the hundreds climbing up my clothes, some reaching my neck. Once that was accomplished, I looked up and realized no one was around. For the next two hours, I collected insects anxiously waited for the group to come back. Luckily, they did. My professor was not too happy.
Within the past year or two, tick management — in homes and on pets — has become more difficult. PMPs need to be thorough and do a complete inspection.

You can reach Dr. Frishman, an industry consultant since 1967 and president of AMF Pest Management Services, at mypmp@northcoastmedia.net.

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