Your Best Source For Learning About And Protecting Yourself from Ticks

Stop Ticks Now – Use Permethrin Clothing Treatment


IMPORTANT TICK BITE INFORMATION:  Do not throw the tick away, keep it. If you have been bitten by a tick and you live in an area known for tick-borne disease always keep the tick.  Ticks can be tested for disease using DNA tests and can even be done a long time after the tick was removed.  This is important because ticks and can have multiple diseases and they can be misdiagnosed.  Being able to test the tick offers your doctor the opportunity to address the problem more deeply if your symptoms don’t improve. Without this evidence, it can be difficult to obtain proper diagnosis and treatment.

Here’s a popular way to preserve the tick – use a small section of paper towel and make it just damp, place the tick in the towel and seal it in a plastic zip-lock bag (date it) . . . place it in the refrigerator.  

AVOID THE BITE USE THE DOD SYSTEM:  The best method for stopping insect-borne disease is to avoid the bite.  This is equally true for both mosquitoes and ticks.  The best system for doing this is a repellent system known as the DoD system.  It stands for Department of Defense and uses two components: a DEET repellent applied to exposed skin AND a clothing treatment of permethrin

Our website is created with the help of top experts in the field of entomology, with a specialty of ticks.  It’s a pleasure to deal with these dedicated scientists from such locations as Harvard Medical School of Tropical Diseases, Ohio State University Department of Entomology and Oklahoma State Department of Entomology to name but a few.  

Ticks are not superbugs but they are persistent. To begin with, ticks don’t fly, jump or blow around with the wind; these suspects would not be ticks.  Ticks are slow and lumbering, while spiders are quick and nimble. They are small, patient and amazing in their capacity to locate their host/prey.  Their sole purpose is to propagate their species and unknowingly pass diseases to the hosts they feed on.  They don’t feed often, but when they do, they can acquire the disease from one host generally an animal and pass it to another animal or human at a later feeding.  Their sensory organs located on their front legs called the Hallers organ are complex.  They can sense trace amounts of gases, such as carbon dioxide emitted by warm-blooded animals and humans.  These trace amounts can remain on trails and areas traveled by aminals and humans for several days so when the tick selects their ambush site it is not by accident.

Why do some ticks have certain diseases and others don’t?  Why do some ticks feed on humans?  The simple answer is that ticks have preferences; they have likes and dislikes.  Many have a preferred host group while others are opportunistic, that’s where the problem arises.  When a disease crosses from the animal group to the human it is called zoonosis. The Black Legged tick (aka Deer tick) and the Lone Star tick are opportunistic feeders as they will seemingly feed on anything. Specific ticks equal specific disease potential – this is why knowing the difference between certain ticks is important, there are only a few you need to know.

While there are hundreds of tick species, very few ticks interact with humans and domestic animals causing harm. While most ticks limit their host selection, others are opportunistic feeders and will feed on almost any accessible host. A tick which feeds on a select host group will move disease within that group. However, when a tick is a nonselective feeder, it can transmit disease agents from one host group to another. These nonselective ticks pose the largest threat of infection in man.

Ticks generally are not born with diseases but rather acquire them during various feedings.  They then pass the diseases on to other animals and mankind during subsequent feedings. Lyme disease, babiosisos, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia are examples of such diseases.

Ticks have life cycles that have three stages of development- larval (infant), nymph (immature) and adult (mature). The ticks known for the greatest quantity of disease infections are the Ixodes group. The group consists of many ticks but the ones of most concern are ixodes scapolarius, ixodes pacificus, and ixodes ricionoiuse

Even experts find it difficult to distinguish the various ixodes ticks based on physical characteristics alone since a large part of identification relies on the geographical location habitat and host preferences. When the female tick engorges on blood, her body change of both size and color is so significant that she is unrecognizable when compared to her pre-engorgement appearance. Look at the sequence of a Lone Star tick as she engorges . . . is this hard to believe? In an attempt to simplify identification we are providing photographs showing various stages of the tick during the feeding process. Regardless of the difficulty in identifying specific tick species within a group, it is quite easy (with the aid of our photographs) to identify ticks belonging to the group. That is the purpose of this website!

Each tick species has a distinguishing characteristic called the shield.  The shield on each species has its own unique adornment or design. On the adult female, it covers about half of her unfed state, the remainder will expand with blood as she feeds and develops her egg mass.  The male ticks do not expand and only appear thicker in their profile and their appearance does not change.  The shield on the female is an area just behind the mouthpart and is the key part of this tick identification method. You’ll see in the photographs that the shield remains constant in size and in relationship to the mouthparts. The only visual difference in this picture is that the shield pivots forward as the tick becomes more engorged. By using this system and knowing where the tick specimen originated, you will be able to identify the tick with reasonable certainty.  If the tick originated from an area known to have an incidence of tick-borne disease and if the specimen is a species known to carry disease, you can consider that the possibility of infection exists.  


Other considerations in this assessment:

Percentage of infected ticks within the geographic area (assuming the area of the ticks attack is known)– is it a low, medium or high? 

How long did the tick feed before discovery?  Was the tick flat (meaning it attached recently) or partially engorged or fully engorged (meaning it had fed for an extended time)?  Research conducted at Ohio State University indicates that transmission of disease organisms (Lyme disease) begins at approximately 24 hours.  The longer the feeding continues the greater the potential for infection.  Other diseases will vary in their infection transmission time frame.  

These factors can assist you in making a decision to visit your doctor.  The decision is yours. If you keep the specimen, it’s important to protect it from dehydration by wrapping it in a damp (not wet) paper towel.  Should dehydration of the tick occur it can be extremely difficult if not impossible to identify.  Proper removal is important for two reasons (1) intact removal of the tick helps keep disease agents contained within the tick and (2) if it becomes necessary to identify the tick it needs to be in the best condition possible.  See the Pro-Tick Remedy.



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