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Overview Of The Blacklegged Tick In Pittsburgh And PA

Blacklegged Ticks are also commonly referred to as deer ticks because of their habit of primarily feeding on the blood of deer during the winter months. In addition to feeding on the blood of deer, these parasitic pests also can be found feeding on large animals, livestock, small animals, pets, amphibians, and of course people. Blacklegged ticks are a pest that needs to be controlled because of their ability to carry and transmit serious diseases including Lyme disease.

  •  Adult black-legged ticks have a broad, oval-shaped body; before feeding adults are about the size of a sesame seed or 1/8th of an inch in length. They become larger in size after feeding.
  • Their bodies are orangish brown before feeding, after feeding they become a more reddish rust color.
  • As their name suggests their legs are darker in color than the rest of their body.
  • Adult ticks and nymphs have 8 legs, larvae have 6 legs.

Habits Of Blacklegged Ticks

In the spring female deer ticks each lay a very large number of eggs (up to 3,000) in areas of dense vegetation; after laying her eggs the female dies. A six-legged larva emerges from each egg and chooses a small animal like a mouse or other rodent to feed on.  After feeding for a period of time it drops off of its’ host and molts into an 8 legged nymph.  The nymph then chooses another host to feed on until they are ready to drop off and molt into an adult.  After becoming an adult the black-legged deer tick chooses a third host to feed off of; common hosts for adult black-legged ticks include white-tailed deer, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, livestock, and humans.

Blacklegged deer ticks cannot fly or jump, so to find a host they hide out in areas of thick vegetation waiting for one to brush up against them.  They then climb onto the host and find a place to feed; feeding generally occurs over a period of several days, once they are engorged they simply drop off of their host. Blacklegged deer ticks need a humid environment to survive in; this is why they are generally found hiding in dense vegetation, high grasses, wooded areas, along fence lines, and along wooded trails. 

Threats Posed By Blacklegged Ticks

Blacklegged deer ticks are most well-known for carrying Lyme disease- a serious disease that can cause significant health problems if left untreated. Lyme disease is caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.  An infected tick can transmit this disease to each host that it feeds on causing the disease to quickly spread throughout an area.  The first symptoms of Lyme disease can copy those of the flu and can include fever, aches, and pains; also if infected with Lyme disease a person may develop a distinctive bulls-eye rash in one area or several areas of their body. On average this rash develops about 7 days after being bitten by an infected tick.  Overtime untreated Lyme disease can lead to complications with the heart and nervous system, cause joint swelling, and cause the erosion of cartilage and bone.

PA Prevention Of Blacklegged Ticks

Blacklegged ticks are usually introduced onto properties by wild animals, so controlling these dangerous pests can be difficult. The best way to prevent black-legged ticks is to remove the environments around your property that attract them and their hosts.

  • Keep your lawn trimmed short, remove areas of dense vegetation, and cut back wooded areas on your property.
  • Remove piles of leaves, grass, or other organic debris.
  • Remove bird feeders and any other wild animal feeders from your property.
  • Use tick preventative for your dogs and cats under the guidance of your pet’s veterinarian.
  • When spending time outdoors, especially in wooded areas, you should wear long sleeves, long pants that are tucked into your socks, and closed-toe shoes.
  • Wear a tick repellent containing that contains DEET; contact your doctor for the best tick repellent to use for children.

Control Of Blacklegged Ticks

The best way to control black-legged ticks is to partner with experienced pest management professional. At Witt Pest Management we can thoroughly evaluate your property and to create a custom-tailored solution. Our Pittsburgh pest control technicians can successfully reduce black-legged tick numbers on your property through our effective tick defense service:

A detailed inspection of the exterior of your property to discover where on your property ticks are hiding.

The application of a tick treatment by one of our professional pest control technicians using a specialized inspection, misting and harborage removal.

Treatments are applied during the ticks’ most active season from April-October.

Contact us today at Witt Pest Management to learn more about our tick defense service and how it can help to protect your family and pets from dangerous black-legged ticks.