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Elimination

An infestation of brown dog ticks inside is pretty obvious. You may see insects moving around the walls, along the molding, or behind the curtains. Since brown dog ticks can also carry certain diseases, we recommend calling a professional.

The first step is to have your pet treated by a veterinarian. Then vacuum any room where you have seen ticks. Go over cracks and crevices multiple times to get as many of the insects as possible (be sure to empty the canister or dispose of the bag). If you still want to handle the problem yourself, you can apply Maheu&Maheu Crawling Insect Killer to any cracks and crevices where insects can hide. Sometimes outside intervention may be required

Actions

  • Vacuum every room in the house (empty receptacle/dispose of bag)
  • Spot treat with insecticide indoors if pests get in

Prevention

  • See your veterinarian for advice on how to protect your pets
  • Avoid walking in tall grass

Description and development

Ticks are acarids, most species of which are in the Ixodidae family. There are at least 40 different species of ticks in Canada. As arachnids, ticks are closely related to spiders and scorpions. They are easily recognized by their oval-shaped, unsegmented body, which is fused where the head and abdomen meet. They have eight legs and their size may vary greatly depending on how much blood they ingest. They range in color from dark brown to dull red, depending on the species.

There are two species of particular note: The brown dog tick (also called the kennel tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus ), which can infest buildings, and the blacklegged tick (also called the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis ), which is the primary vector for Lyme disease.
The moisture level in homes is too low for most tick species to survive, but the brown dog tick can put up with the warmer, drier environments of buildings very easily. It is the only tick that can complete its entire life cycle inside a home.

The life cycle (from egg to adult) of the brown dog tick takes about two months in favorable conditions. There can be two to four generations a year. A female that is engorged with blood can lay 1,000 to 3,000 eggs, which she places in cracks and crevices. A brown dog tick feeds three times in its life, coinciding with the three stages of its development: larva, nymph, and adult. Between each stage, it leaves the host to molt and then returns for another meal.

The blacklegged tick completes its life cycle within two to four years but does not develop inside buildings. For more information on this tick or on Lyme disease, please visit Health Canada's website.

Habits

Ticks are hematophagous ectoparasites. They live off the blood of mammals and birds. The preferred host of the brown dog tick is the dog, which is often the source of infestations in the home. These ticks rarely attack humans, but don’t make the mistake of getting rid of your pet because these ticks might choose you for their next meal!

Ticks use special mouth parts to embed themselves in the skin, making them difficult to remove. They are often found in wooded areas, especially in the tall grass of the undergrowth, but they also hide in fields, clearings, and even the lawn. Basically, any place with tall grass is a haven for ticks. Contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t jump; they hide in the tall grass and grab onto animals passing by.

Tips

Prevention is still the best way to avoid ticks. Try to avoid tall grass when you’re walking in the woods. Wear long sleeves and long pants to cover as much skin as possible for even better protection. Bug sprays containing DEET or icaridin may also be effective. Don’t forget that these are insecticides, so read the label carefully before use.

If you find a tick on a pet or on yourself, use disinfected fine-point tweezers to remove it. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull up using steady, even pressure. Then disinfect the site. Keep the tick in the freezer if you want to have someone identify it. Avoid touching the tick bare-handed while removing it from the skin.

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