The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

April 13, 2010

Dog Tick Season

Filed under: Insects,Uncategorized — bob @ 5:02 pm

We found our first Dog Tick (sometimes called Wood Tick) of the season this past Saturday. The warm weather has brought them out early this year.

On our property, this has been the only species of tick we have encountered. Fortunately the dog tick does not carry Lyme Disease.

Dog Ticks are about 3/16" long.

The experts at Michigan State University has this to say about the pests:

Their bites rarely result in serious disease in Michigan, but like other wood ticks, dog ticks are a known carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. The cases of Rock Mountain Spotted Fever reported in Michigan have been from primarily southern counties, particularly those located directly north of the Toledo Airport.

Hmmmm… that comment about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever being found in the counties “directly north of the Toledo Airport” doesn’t give me too much comfort. I guess the lesson to be learned is that you need to check yourself and pets for ticks after spending a day walking or working in an area with tall grass or shrubs.  The ticks crawl up onto tall grass or shrubbery and wait for a likely host to walk by, usually a dog or cat (or raccoon or other wild animal). They don’t use trees for this purpose.

I spend a lot of time outside, sometimes in areas like those described, and do find a tick now and then. The most I’ve ever found on myself at one time was five ticks. That was several years ago. It was a bad tick year and  I spent the whole day working out in an area with tall grass.

If you find the ticks right away, they are easy to remove. The longer they stay on, the harder it is to get them off. The ticks have barbs on their mouth that they use to dig deeper and deeper into your skin until they find blood.  It takes them a few hours before they actually start “sucking blood” so usually you have plenty of time to get them off.

The recommended procedure for removing ticks is to use a pair of tweezers and grab them right at the surface of your skin then lift them straight out without twisting them. Avoid squeezing them to keep their “saliva” from being squirted back into your or your pet’s skin.

If left on too long, they will continue to feed on blood until they get “big and juicy” looking something like a disgusting, brown grape…yuk.  Don’t let them get to that point!  Sometimes you can find a tick starting to swell from feeding on a long-haired dog. This is  because when the ticks are small they are easily hidden under long fur.

Be aware that the ticks are out now and check your pets often.


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