Ticks are arachnids that depend on the blood of a host to survive. They bite animals or humans unlucky enough to cross their paths, then embed themselves into the living hosts' tissue. They then become engorged with blood and detach. Though there are more than 800 species of ticks all over the world, only a few are common and harmful to animals and humans. Therefore, if you live in an area where these specific kinds of ticks are found, it's important to know how to identify them.
American Dog Tick
The American dog tick is the most common tick, often found on the family pet. This species is prevalent in areas east of the Rocky Mountains, but has been found on the Pacific coast in states such as California. This tick is noted for its glossy, brown coloring, oval shape and ability to burrow into the skin of humans without being noticed. It can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in humans, and make dogs and other animals severely anemic from blood loss.
Brown Dog Tick
The brown dog tick is a species that can be found almost anywhere throughout the United States and in many areas around the world. This pest also prefers dogs as its host, but will attach on other animals; it rarely attaches to people. The brown dog tick can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in humans. It is flat and light brown in color, and has the appearance of a shield when engorged.
Western Black-Legged Tick or Deer Tick
The Western black-legged tick is more commonly known at the deer tick, and is notorious for causing Lyme Disease. This tick has a longer mouth part than most tick species, and it has black legs. Its body is black and brown, and it looks similar to the brown dog tick when engorged. The deer tick is common in wooded areas in Northeastern and upper Midwestern states and prefers large animals such as deer and bears as hosts.
Western Black-Legged Tick
This species of tick also has black legs and a partially black body, though its coloring is a bit lighter than the deer tick. The Western black-legged tick can transmit Lyme Disease to humans, and prefers to attach to small hosts such as rodents and rabbits. It is primarily found in areas of the United States such as the Pacific coast.
Lone Star Tick
This tick gets its name from the white mark on the females that resembles a star. It has longer legs and mouth part than most ticks. Commonly found in Eastern and Southeastern United States, this aggressive tick prefers to attach to the white tail deer, and is suspected to cause Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other illnesses.
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
As its name predicts, this tick is found in the Rocky Mountain states, and is a common transmitter of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It favors larger animals as its hosts, and often bites humans. Though it is similar in appearance to the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick is larger, with a rounder, thicker body. It is a sturdy, hard-to-kill pest.
Gulf Coast Tick
The Gulf Coast tick appears similar to the American dog tick, though it has longer, lighter-colored legs and larger mouth parts. It transmits Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, a form of spotted fever, to humans, and is common on all types of large wildlife, birds and rodents. The Gulf Coast tick is prevalent in states near the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast.
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