Ticks are small, strange creatures, and there are many misconceptions about how they behave. Ticks loom large in the human imagination as the carriers of Lyme disease, but information about how to protect yourself from these tiny creatures is often full of misunderstanding.
However, they’re fairly simple creatures to understand and protect yourself through pest control if you know the basics. In this article, we’ll cover the basics, and also tackle the often-asked question, “Can ticks fly?” There is often confusion around this issue, but we’re here to set the record straight.
What are ticks anyway?
Ticks are small, blood-sucking arachnids. They have eight legs and are related to spiders. They come in a variety of colors, from brown to reddish-brown or black. Ticks attach themselves to a host — like a human or an animal and then suck that host’s blood in order to feed themselves. They generally choose warm, moist locations on the human body to bite, like armpits, hair, or underwear lines. Once they have found a comfortable location, they bite their host and begin to draw their blood.
Ticks are unique because they remain in one location after they bite you and don’t move. They slowly draw more and more blood into their bodies, feeding upon their host, and become larger and more engorged until they are found or they fall off. Ticks can grow fairly large over time, and their size is a good indicator of how long they’ve been on your body. They commonly find hosts in humans and in dogs, so it’s important to protect your dogs as well as yourself.
Are ticks dangerous?
Tick bites are usually harmless. Bites can occasionally cause one to develop a rash or pain at the site of their bite, but unless you are allergic to tick bites, you generally will find that you don’t have any symptoms.
However, some ticks carry diseases. When ticks bite a human or animal and suck their blood, they can transmit that disease. There are a number of diseases that might be transmitted, but the most common is Lyme disease. Other serious diseases transmitted by ticks are extremely rare and are generally specific to a region. However, tick-borne diseases have been reported in each of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska. They are most commonly found in the Northeast and the Midwest.
Lyme disease leads to symptoms including a red rash and muscle and joint aches. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics, and treatment only takes a couple of weeks. However, the best way to treat Lyme disease is to avoid ticks entirely, using caution when spending time in the woods or walking through high grasses. You can do this by wearing long shirts and pants. It’s important to check one’s body for ticks (some of which can be the size of poppy-seeds), with particular attention paid to places that ticks like to hide. By removing ticks quickly, you can prevent them from transmitting diseases. Lyme disease takes over 36 hours of constant contact to be transmitted from a tick to a human.
Can Ticks Fly?
Ticks cannot fly. However, there is often confusion around whether or not ticks can fly or not for a number of reasons This confusion is often derived by the locations on the body ticks seem to gravitate towards. How come so many ticks end up on humans’ scalps if they can’t fly?
Ticks can’t fly or jump, but they do have a behavior called “questing” that often leads people to believe that they do. When ticks are questing, they hold onto leaves, grass, or other elevated bodies with their third and fourth legs, leaving their front legs outstretched and ready to climb onto a host. If the person or dog in question brushes by them, they are able to easily climb aboard, allowing them to reach higher heights. Once they are aboard, ticks have different behaviors: some crawl around, searching for the perfect spot on the host, while others settle down and choose a nearby location. Ticks don’t drop out of trees, either, a common misconception. They merely climb to the location that best suits their needs for feeding, whether that is on one’s leg, sock-line, or scalp.
Sometimes, people confuse other insects for ticks. The popular weevil is an insect that has been mistaken for “flying ticks.” Harmless to humans, these insects infest areas, and can be found everywhere outside: on cars, lawns, porches, and playgrounds. They are very small and look like ticks, but on second glance, they’re clearly not: they have six legs, a snout, and are able to fly.
Protecting yourself from ticks
It’s important to be able to identify ticks visually and to identify their behaviors in order to keep oneself safe from them and the diseases they might be carrying. First, know where you might find ticks. Ticks like to live in shady, moist areas close to the ground. They tend to cling to grasses or shrubs that are relatively close to the earth, no higher than two feet off the ground. They also take refuge in gardens, particularly enjoying the edges of woods or vegetation and locations near stone walls.
When you go for a hike in the woods or other natural areas, dress to protect yourself. Wear long-sleeved pants and shirts, a hat, and bring some bug spray with you. Make sure that the bug spray you’re bringing is strong enough to protect you. Avoid walking through tall fields of grass, where ticks love to reside. And continue performing “tick checks” at the end of the day in order to make sure that no ticks have attached to anyone. Important places to check oneself for are waistbands, armpits, and other moist, warm places. Ask a friend or family member to check your scalp for any bumps or signs of ticks.
When it comes to your own home, it’s important to be sure that pests are actively deterred from taking up residence on your property. You can’t always wear long sleeves and pants in your backyard, and it’s important for your children and pets to have a safe place to play, free from worry about tick bites. TermiGuard offers a monthly protection program that serves to protect your property from all bugs, insects, and critters. We cover 25 general pests, including pests that might damage your property, like termites, and ensure your utmost safety throughout the year. Learn more about our pest protection programs at https://termiguardusa.com/pest-control/ and choose to protect your family today!