- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
Common name: Ticks
Scientific name: Ticks are Arachnids in the Order Acari.
Size: Depending on species, sizes range from the size of the head of a pin, up to one inch.
Areas of county most prolific: Grasslands, chaparral, vegetative boarders of hiking trails.
Season most active: March through July
There are hundreds of species of ticks nationwide. They are ectoparasites which live on the blood of mammals, birds, and occasionally of amphibians and reptiles. They are only second to mosquitos as vectors of human diseases. Tick's are best known for transmission of Lyme disease.
These blood-feeding parasites are often found at the tip of grass blades as they ready themselves to attach to a passing animal. They do not jump. Physical contact is the only means of attachment and transport.
Ticks have a harpoon-like mouth structure, a hypostome, that allows them to anchor firmly in place while feeding. They will drop off of the animal when full, which could take several days.
Common ticks include the American dog tick and the brown dog tick, also called kennel tick because it is mainly found in kennels and in homes with dogs. Both can live indoors in cracks in floors, in upholstery, and near heaters. The deer tick, or black-legged tick, transmits Lyme disease, but this species does not occur in California. However, the Western black legged tick occurs in 56 of the 58 counties in California and also transmits the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
If you are camping or hiking where ticks will likely be, be diligent in preventing contact by dressing appropriately – long sleeve shirts, long pants, long socks, and tuck your shirt into your pants. Consider acaricides or repellants. Afterwards, perform tick checks on both yourself and your pets. Shower within two hours of possible exposure and wash and dry clothing using high heat to kill any undetected ticks
Use tweezers to remove ticks. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull straight out. Wash the wound with soap and water and follow with rubbing alcohol if available.
For more information on ticks and Lyme disease see the UC IPM Pest Notes on Lyme Disease in California - http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PDF/PESTNOTES/pnlymedisease.pdf