Common Ticks Found in New Jersey
We know the sickening feeling when you go for a nice walk outdoors or come home from a park with your kids and there it is. You stomach drops and you remove it as fast as you can and want to identify that tick as soon as possible to see if it is one that carries Lyme disease. Ticks are not insects, but are more closely related to spiders and mites. There are four species of ticks that are of medical and veterinary importance in New Jersey. All four pass through 4 stages of development: egg, larva, nymph, and the sexually differentiated adult. In addition, the ticks discussed here are 3-host ticks; they must locate and feed upon 3 different hosts in order to complete their life cycle. The animals that provide the bloodmeal are termed maintenance hosts. With the possible exception of the brown dog tick, these ticks are not host-specific and, thus, will feed on a variety of vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles and incidental humans. Although birds are important maintenance hosts, they are not considered to be significant reservoirs of tick-borne pathogens, as they are more important for their ability to rapidly disperse ticks to new geographical areas.
Blacklegged Deer Tick
Preventing ticks in the yard
- Remove leaf litter.
- Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
- Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
- Mow the lawn frequently.
- Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents).
- Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
- Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences.
- Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.
How ticks find their hosts
Ticks are common in New Jersey, particularly during the warmer months of the year. These parasitic arachnids are known for their ability to transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Babesiosis, making it important to understand how they find their hosts.
Ticks in New Jersey find their hosts through a process called questing. Questing is a behavior where the tick climbs to the tips of grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation, and extends its front legs in a quest for a potential host. Ticks can detect the presence of hosts through a variety of cues, including carbon dioxide, temperature, and movement.
Once a host brushes past the questing tick, the tick quickly climbs onto the host’s body and begins to feed on its blood. It’s important to note that ticks are capable of detecting hosts from several meters away, so it’s essential to take preventative measures when in areas where ticks are known to be present.
To reduce the risk of tick bites in New Jersey, it’s recommended to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when hiking or spending time in wooded areas. Using natural insect repellent that contains essential oil blends that are also effective in deterring ticks. Additionally, conducting tick checks after being outdoors and removing any attached ticks promptly can help prevent the transmission of tick-borne illnesses.
Ticks in New Jersey find their hosts through questing, a behavior where they climb to the tips of vegetation and extend their front legs in search of a potential host. Taking preventative measures such as wearing protective clothing and using a natural insect repellent can help reduce the risk of tick bites and tick-borne illnesses.
American Dog Tick
How ticks spread disease
Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding.
- Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.
- The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.
- Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can’t feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.
- A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a blood-borne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.
- Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.
- After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.
Brown Dog Tick
To prevent tick bites, it is important to take the following steps:
– Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes when outdoors. Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to identify.
– Avoid vegetation and stick to the center of trails when hiking or walking in wooded areas.
– Always inspect yourself, your pets, and your loved ones for ticks after spending time outdoors.
– Apply insect repellent that contains at least 20% essential oil solution on exposed skin and clothing. Some essential oils that may repel ticks are lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and rose geranium.
– Treat your pets with products that kill or repel ticks, such as collars, sprays or spot-on treatments.
– Keep your yard clean and clear of leaf litter, brush and tall grasses. Create a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn and wooded areas.
If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, you should remove it as soon as possible using fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick at the point where it is closest to the skin and pull it out gently without twisting or squeezing. Wash the bite area and your hands with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet or putting it in alcohol, a sealed bag/container, or wrapping it tightly in tape before throwing it in the trash.
Ticks acquire hosts via questing or host-seeking behavior, which largely determines the type of animal that is parasitized. Because of its importance as the vector of Lyme disease, human babesiosis, and human anaplasmosis, the blacklegged tick receives the greatest emphasis, but major differences in the biology, behavior, and ecology of the other tick species are noted. Contact us for New Jersey’s BEST, All Natural Tick Control and Mosquito Control Spray solution.