Ticks can be extremely annoying and while you might think of them in terms of swamps, rivers, and marshes, they are alive and well in the San Gabriel Valley area. Not only are their bites painful, but these arachnids (they are members of the spider and eight-legged bug family), but they are also carriers of a number of diseases that can be transferred to humans. Of these, Lyme Disease is the most well-known as it can have life-long symptoms that can often become crippling.
They are quite small in size, most are no larger than the head of a pin but latch firmly onto humans, dogs, cats, birds, mice, rats, squirrels, and many other animals. Their only mission in life seems to be to feed on blood so that they can grow and reproduce.
What You Need to Know about Ticks
During their life cycle, ticks will go through several growth stages, each of which requires them to consume plenty of warm blood. Once the tick has reached adulthood (the final stage), it will make its way to the top of tall blades of grass or any other type of vegetation to begin what is known as “questing”.
Ticks have the ability to detect body odors and heat coming from warm-blooded creatures (including humans) that are part of its food chain. The tick sits there with its front legs extended so that when a suitable meal passes by, the tiny hooks on these legs will grab and hold onto the host. They will they crawl around until they find the perfect place to create a hole in the skin and then begin to feed.
Most ticks are small and brownish in color, the most common species include:
- American Dog Ticks
- Brown Dog Tick
- Deer ticks – carriers of Lyme Disease
- Gulf Coast Tick
- Lone Star Tick
- Rocky Mountain Wood Tick – carriers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
There are several diseases that ticks are known for carrying and transmitting to animals and humans. Among the most common of these are:
- Colorado Tick Fever
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Tick Paralysis
- Typhus – several varieties are known to come from ticks
How to Remove Ticks
Despite what you may here, using a lit cigarette is not considered to be the best way to remove a tick if you find a tick on you or one of your pets. Doctors say that the best way to remove a tick is by using a pair of fine-nosed tweezers. You place the tweezers as close to the skin as possible and then grip the tick firmly by the head. Using a quick upward movement, pull the tick from your skin. Do NOT use a twisting motion as this can leave parts of the mouth behind that can lead to infection. You should then wash the area of the bite and apply an anti-bacterial ointment and a band-aid to help eliminate the risk of infection.
Ridding Your Home of Ticks
If your home or yard become infested with ticks, you should not attempt to get rid of them yourselves using over the counter treatments. This is a job for a professional exterminator who can rid your home and yard of them and then teach you how to reduce the risk of re-infestation.