Deer Ticks and Deer Tick Bite Information

male deer tick deer ticks deer tick

There are two species of ticks, usually referred to as deer ticks,that are the primary carriers of Lyme disease.  They are the blacklegged tick Ixodes scapularis (formerly known as Ixodes dammini), and Ixodes pacificus. I. scapularis is usually found in the North, East and Midwest, while I. pacificus, the western blacklegged tick  is found in California and the Pacific Coast.  Ixodia ticks are very small.  Much smaller than dog or cat ticks. The juvenile is about the size of a pinhead, the largest deer tick being three-sixteenths of an inch. If you have ever had or seen "seed" ticks, you know how small a tick can be.   Ticks have eight legs and two body segments.

A Lyme disease infection can occur after a deer tick is attached to a human or other host for twelve to twenty-four hours. An infected deer tick has Borrelia that lives in the tick's mid-gut. Ticks are parasites that insert their mouth parts into their hots and suck blood for several days. When it attaches and feeds, the Borrelia moves into the salivary gland and enters the humans blood,

Obviously finding and removing the tick as quickly as possible is important to preventing infection. The longer the tick feeds, the more likely for it to pass along a disease. There is an incubation time of three to thirty-two days before the disease develops.
Deer ticks can also carry babesiosis and human granulytic ehrlichiosis, two other health threats.

Lyme disease is usually acquired in spring through summer when the tick population is its highest and when more people are outdoors. In the past it was thought that ticks could be in the trees and then drop down on people below. That isn't true.  Ticks are in the grass and on the shrubs and attach themselves when a host brushes by them.  Ticks can not jump or fly, they only crawl. Deer ticks have several impressive methods for looking for hosts. These include monitoring carbon dioxide levels of victims, body heat, and other chemical indicators.

If you have pets that go outdoors, they should be wearing flea and tick collars, especially in areas close to woods or if deer are coming into your yard.  If you have deer coming to your yard regularly, you might consider having your yard treated with a flea/tick control product.

Recent advances in Lyme Disease and deer tick control have found that Beneficial Nematodes are part of nature's natural solution to this problem. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, non-segmented roundworms that occur naturally in soil. Inside the gut of the nematode are symbiotic (good) bacteria that when released inside an insect, will kill that insect within 24-48 hours.

You can buy the beneficial organisms through this site. Then simply mix the clay solution with water and spray the area to be treated. This is a green environmentally safe solution that is naturally occuring and is safe for all humans and animals.

deer tick waiting on twig for a ride

Important Deer Tick Photos and Videos to View

Iowa State's Tick Home Page Has Great Photos and Videos

From the New York Times, Is this well written article about new deer tick control.

Shelter and Fire Islands Try Device to Kill Ticks


SHELTER ISLAND has used deer hunts to try to control its tick problem. Pesticides have been sprayed there and on Fire Island, where disease-carrying ticks are also persistent. Now, dozens of deer-baiting devices called four-posters are being installed in both areas as part of a $1.2 million tick-removal effort.

After some brief tests last fall, this is the first full-time run on Long Island for four-posters — feeder stations that resemble four-poster beds and lure deer with corn. Rollers soaked with the pesticide permethrin rub the animals’ necks as they eat the corn, in hopes of killing ticks.

Studies by the United States Department of Agriculture have concluded that four-posters helped decrease tick populations by 90 percent or more. Entomologists said it would take two to three years to notice a difference in tick populations.

Deer hunting on Fire Island was banned in the late 1980s amid protests, but hunting of white-tail deer has taken place on Shelter Island for many years. Still, ticks carrying Lyme and other diseases remain prevalent, and the occurrence of Lyme disease in Suffolk County has increased, to 542 reported cases in 2005, the last year for which figures are available, from 288 in 2003.

Many residents interviewed said that they supported installation of the four-posters — a move entomologists will study over the next three to four years. Others expressed fears that the pesticide used might harm food and water supplies, though federal experts say the chemical is safe.

“We are having a health crisis,” said Rae Lapides, chairwoman of the Shelter Island Deer and Tick Committee. She spearheaded the push for the 60 four-posters, which were to have been installed this weekend.

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