Why and How Ticks Bite
Ticks’ primary source of food is blood obtained from mammals such as humans, dogs, raccoons, and mice. The pests typically live in wooded areas and grassy fields and latch onto hosts when they’re walking through these environments with exposed skin. Their mouths are made up of three specialized parts that aid in the feeding process, one hypostome and two chelicerae. Chelicerae are retractable rods tipped with hooked teeth used for anchoring feeding ticks in place. The hypostome is a long, sword-like appendage with a groove along the center that channels the host’s blood into the tick and tick saliva into the host.
Problems Caused by Ticks
The major problem associated with tick bites is disease transmission. Different species of ticks carry different diseases, but some ailments most commonly associated with the pests include Lyme disease, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and tularemia. These diseases bring about a host of multiple symptoms including, but not limited to, fevers, chills, muscle weakness, aches, fatigue, joint pain, rashes, loss of appetite, nausea, disorientation, stiffness, and heart problems.
Prevention & Control
Outdoorsy individuals can take several precautions to reduce the possibility of picking up ticks on hikes or during time spent in tall grasses. Wearing long sleeves, long pants, and tucking pants into socks during prolonged outdoor activity can stop ticks from latching onto skin. Applying repellents before hikes also reduces the possibility of bringing home the pests. After time spent outdoors, individuals should inspect each other and pets for ticks before going back inside. Finally, toss clothes into driers upon returning home to kill any ticks that have latched onto clothing.
Individuals that suspect they’ve been bitten should seek medical attention immediately. A swift diagnosis makes all the difference in ability to treat tick-borne illnesses. Furthermore, if property owners suspect the presence of tick infestations on their lawns, they should contact professional pest removal services to take care of the problem in a safe and timely manner.