Ticks Family: Ixodidae
Quick Look Pest Stats
Color: Orange-brown-red, with dark legs
Shape: Flat; broad oval
Region: Found in the Pacific Northwest
Western Black-Legged Tick
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
American Dog Tick
Pacific Coast Tick
There are approx. 20 species of hard ticks in the PNW. Of these, only four species are commonly found on humans:
• Western Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes pacificus)
• Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni)
• American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
• Pacific Coast Tick (Dermacentor occidentalis)
Most tick species prefer to hide in grass and shrubs while waiting for a passing host.
Adult ticks feed primarily on the blood of deer, elk and other large game animals. In the spring, a female tick will drop off its host and will deposit about 3,000 eggs. Nymphs, or baby ticks, feed on mice, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, dogs, humans and birds.
Female ticks deposit their eggs in litter and soil. Newly hatched larvae are very small, have only six legs, and mainly attach to small animals. After a blood meal, they drop off the host and change to an eight-legged nymph stage. The nymph stage usually attaches to small animals, but it may be found on larger hosts. After a blood meal, the nymph drops off and changes to an adult. Females usually take a blood meal from a large animal, females may reach 3/4 inch in length when fully engorged. The large blood meal is necessary to allow the eggs to develop. After a blood meal, the females drop off the host and lay eggs to start the cycle over. This cycle may take from one to several years depending on the species. Male ticks may take small short duration blood meals but spend most of their time searching for females.
Ticks are a vector of anaplasmosis, babeosis and Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a primary concern in the United States. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic bull’s eye-shaped skin rash. Lyme disease can also affect joints, the heart and the nervous system if left untreated.
When in an area where ticks are common, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light-colored so ticks will be easy to detect. It’s also important to wear a tick repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET. To get rid of ticks and their risks indoors, inspect clothing and skin when heading inside. If you find a tick, remove it with a slow and steady pull. Take note of the day you removed the tick, in case you become ill. Consult with a doctor immediately if there is a reaction at the bite site or if you believe you have contracted Lyme disease.