One of the scariest but lesser known little devils in existence is the tick. These sickness-spreading, bloodsucking nightmares can pass bacteria, disease, and protozoa as they switch from one mammal, bird, reptile, and occasionally amphibian host to another. Ticks are tiny, and while commonly referred to as an insect, they are arachnids, just like spiders and scorpions. They typically measure about .13 of an inch length as adults, although their size and width vary drastically depending on whether or not it has just fed. They are found worldwide, although their numbers seem to swell wherever it is hot and humid.
Fossils indicate that these parasites have been feeding on unsuspecting hosts for at least 90 million years and on humans since our first steps on earth. Ticks strictly follow a blood-only diet, which makes them so dangerous when it comes to the spread of sicknesses. While there are 800 species, they belong to either one of two families: Ixodidae, known as hard ticks, and the Argasidae, or soft ticks. Nuttalliella, a type from Southern Africa, is the only exception to both. It belongs to the family Nuttalliellidae and represents the oldest living lineage of the pest.
Modern ticks have complex life cycles, going through four different stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult, with feeding and potential disease-spreading occurring during the nymph and adult phases. The soft ones have seven additional nymph stages which require feeding before moving to the following stage. The main difference in identifying the two types is that the hard ones have a shield-like layer on their backs, while the soft ones lack this protection.
While there are hundreds of species, New Jersey is mostly inhabited by three main varieties. They are the Blacklegged, also known as the Deer Tick, the Lone Star, and the American Dog Tick. While they are active in different stages and during different seasons, the Blacklegged nymphs are most active from May to early July, which is when most Lyme disease cases are reported here. They are also responsible for spreading Anaplasmosis. Unfortunately, Lyme disease is not the only illness these biters carry and pass on. They can also transmit borrella mayonii and miyamotoi, Heartland virus, tularemia, and many others.
More than 50% of ticks can spread pathogens depending on the time of year, so covering up exposed skin during their active months when going outside is important. Preventive actions such as inspecting yourself and your pets after time spent outside are critical. These amateur anesthesiologists inject a painkiller so you cannot feel the bite.
You might be the type of generous person who gives the shirt off your back, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being willing to give the parasites blood from their veins. If you’re having a problem with ticks latching themselves on to you or your pets, it’s time for action. Contact New Day Pest Control if you’re in Bergen, Essex, or Passaic counties, so we can make like vampire-hunters and get those blood-suckers out of your home and out of your life.