Ticks are not insects. They are arachnids belonging to the group – mites. They are bigger than all other mites. There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world and they are capable of spreading more than 65 diseases, many of them serious. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and tularemia are a few. If someone made a list of the top ten most dangerous pests, ticks would be close to the top of the list. For some reason, they receive almost no attention compared to bed bugs which are absolutely harmless. Ticks mostly feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, but some species feed on reptiles. They can be found in lawns, yards with trees and shrubs and, occasionally, inside homes. They prefer the shaded areas of your yard.
Most of the ticks listed below are only found in the woods and remote areas and won’t infest your homes. We are listing them because they can be serious vectors of disease if you should encounter them.
Talaje soft ticks (Argasidae – Ornithodoros talaje)
Man, rodents, pigs, cattle, horses. Very painful bite. Found in Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico.
Medical: It can transmit tickborne relapsing fever in some areas
Herm’s soft ticks (Argasidae – Ornithodoros hermsi)
This tick if found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Arizona
Medical: Primary vector of tickborne relapsing fever spirochetes in the area.
Relapsing fever ticks (Argasidae – Ornithodoros turicata)
It feeds on kangaroo rats, rabbits, sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, humans, rattlesnakes and turtles. It is found in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California.
Medical: May produce intense irritation and swelling at bite site in humans. Also produces relapsing fever spirochetes.
Rocky Mountain wood ticks (Ixodidae – Dermacentor andersoni)
Rocky Mountain wood tick immatures feed on rodents and rabbits. Adults feed on cattle, sheep, deer, humans and other large mammals. They are found from the western counties of Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from northern Arizona and northern New Mexico in the United States to British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in Canada.
Medical: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and tularemia.
Pacific coast ticks (Ixodidae – Dermacentor occidentalis)
Immatures feed on small mammals, adults feed on larger domestic animals, deer and humans. This tick is found in Oregon and California.
Medical: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, bovine anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, 364D Rickettsiosis.
American dog ticks (Ixodidae – Dermacentor variabilis)
American dog tick immatures feed on small mammals, preferably rodents. Adults feed on domestic dogs and will readily bite humans. They are found throughout the eastern portion of the country as well as in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California.
Medical: Rocky Mountain spotted fever pathogen and bacterium causing tularemia. It may cause canine paralysis and bovine anaplasmosis and tick paralysis.
Black-legged ticks (Ixodidae – Ixodes spp.)
The female black-legged tick is red and brown, while the male is much darker. They are also known as deer ticks and bear ticks. Immatures feed on various small mammals, birds and lizards. Adults feed on the large mammals such as deer, elk and bears. They will bite humans. The western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) is found in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. The eastern black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is found throughout much of the eastern United States.
Medical: Both black-legged ticks can transmit Lyme disease as well as anasplasmosis and babesiosis
Brown dog ticks (Ixodidae – Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
Brown dog ticks are found worldwide, mostly in warmer areas. It is small and reddish-brown in color. Females can lay up to 5000 eggs, depending on the amount of blood consumed. Immatures feed on a variety of animals. Adults feed on domestic dogs and occasionally bite humans.
Medical: In dogs, it can transmit canine erhlichiosis and canine babesia. It has recently been identified as a reservoir for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the southwest.