As more people head outdoors to dine, play, camp and visit these days, ticks are licking their chops! While ticks are most often a problem in warm weather, they pose a threat year-round due to their resilience in all different types of climate conditions. And Texas winters are not all that harsh.
Ticks are not only found in the wilderness, but are able to live quite well inside your home. They feed on the blood of a host – humans, wild animals, farm animals, pets, birds or reptiles – which makes them grotesque, but also very adaptable. The way they feed is rather disgusting, but it’s the diseases they can carry and spread which makes them dangerous.
One of the most common in the Texas area is the brown dog tick, which prefers canine hosts. They live quite well indoors on your pet or in his kennel. Very prolific, the brown dog tick can lay up to 4,000 eggs at a time.
Another tick found largely in Texas is the cattle tick, which – you guessed it – primarily chooses cattle as its host of choice, but also will feed on horses, sheep, goats, dogs and cats.
AgriLife says there are 11 common tick species in Texas. If you come into contact with a tick and need to identify it, you can use the TAMU Tick App.
What all ticks have in common is that they transmit diseases, the most well-known being Lyme disease. This is detected by the appearance of a rash but may also include fever, headache and tiredness. If untreated, symptoms may extend to joint pain, severe headache with neck stiffness or heart palpitations. Many other tick-transmitted diseases are common in the U.S. The CDC recommends using insect repellent, using pesticides and removing ticks as soon as possible.
Due to the serious nature of tick-borne illnesses, the best course of action is preventing them. Here are some tips:
- Inspection and early detection. Frequent visual assessments of family, canines and wildlife followed by appropriate action.
- Use fencing and/or landscape design to exclude and restrict access by stray animals onto residential premises. Be sure not to use plants that attract deer and other wildlife.
- Keep bird feeders and play equipment in a open area and away from potentially infested vegetation and weeds, kennels and storage units.
- Mow lawn grass regularly.
- Begin a routine residential pest control program of a repeated combination of non-chemical and chemical treatments to achieve lasting results.
Are ticks ticking you off? Time to get help from a pest control professional.