If you enjoy the many parks, walking trails, golf courses or even your back yard in the Greater Kansas City area, sooner or later you will become acquainted with ticks. This usually happens when you find them on yourself, your family or your dogs or cats.
While there are about 200 different species of ticks in the United States and several can cause discomfort, only a few carry diseases which require your immediate attention. Among those diseases are Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tick paralysis and tularemia. There are other diseases, which may also be of concern.
Reducing the likelihood of being fed upon by ticks by taking the following actions.
- Personal protection. Keep trouser legs tucked into socks or boots, shirt tucked in, and clothes buttoned. Avoid sitting on logs, stumps, or the ground in brushy areas. Periodically inspect clothing and the body for ticks to remove them before they become attached. Liberal use of tick repellents is helpful, including application to clothing.
- If a tick is found attached, remove it with a slow steady pull that will not break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. It is best to use forceps whose tips are placed on or just behind the mouthparts. If fingers are used, place the fingernails of thumb and index finger on or just behind the mouthparts but be sure to wash thoroughly with soap and water afterwards. A drop of fingernail polish, Vaseline, or rubbing alcohol to cover the tick's body may help, but be sure to wait about 15-30 minutes for the mouthparts to be withdrawn before pulling. Be sure to clean the attachment area.
- De-ticking dogs is an important way that Rocky Mountain spotted fever is spread. Handpicking is dangerous because infected tick secretions on the hands can be transmitted via contact with eyes, mucous membranes, etc. Be certain to wear rubber or other synthetic gloves and use forceps for removal.
- Habitat modification. Keep the grass cut 3" (7.5 cm) or less; this also reduces rodent habitat. Trim back vegetation along tails, paths, and yard edges. Remove debris and ground cover to discourage rodents.
- Removal of hosts. The reduction or elimination of rodents in the area immediately surrounding the house is helpful. This can be done by the use of rodenticides and/or traps.
- Pesticide application. In heavily infested areas the application of an appropriately labelled pesticide may be advisable. Concentrate on the areas most likely to harbor ticks such as along paths, trails, and roads, and yard-woods interface. The 1st application should be in the early spring to reduce the larvae and nymphs which overwintered.
For proper application of pesticides and further advice regarding tick or other pest control, rely on Augustine Services, Inc., by calling 913-362-4699.
American Dog Tick
The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) common name comes from the fact that it is only found in North America. While quite likely the most common tick in the Kansas City area, it is found throughout the United States except for the area of the Rocky Mountains, and in Canada and Mexico.
Domestic dogs are the favorite host of the adults. Although not a structural pest, it is commonly brought inside on dogs but will readily attack humans. It is of medical importance because it vectors the causal organisms of several very serious diseases or conditions. American dog ticks are the primary vector of Rocky mountain spotted fever in the eastern United States, which they transmit from small animals. These ticks also transmit tularemia and tick paralysis, both of which require immediate medical attention.
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Brown Dog Tick
In Kansas City and elsewhere, the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is not only a pest of dogs, but also an incredible nuisance in our homes. Unlike the American dog tick, this species does not reside in wooded areas and fields. Rather, it is found where dogs frequent, such as residential or farm yards, parks or alongside walking or hiking paths.
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Lone Star Tick
The lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, is found throughout the eastern, southeastern and south-central states. The distribution, range and abundance of the lone star tick have increased over the past 20-30 years, and now includes the Greater Kansas City area. While not generally considered household pests, they often occur in the vicinity of home sites being carved out of the fields and forests of suburban Kansas City.
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Black Legged Tick
The deer tick, also called the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), is a parasite that is found in wooded, brushy areas. It has a lifespan of two to three years during which it goes through three stages of development. The deer tick is a carrier of several harmful diseases, including Lyme disease, which can be passed on to humans. The appearance of the deer tick depends on its stage of life. While it may not be abundant in the Kansas City area, it is present in increasing numbers
Read more: Black Legged Tick