As if we didn’t need something else to worry about, those of us spending time outdoors are finding a good amount of ticks out and about.
As things begin to green up a little bit with the recent bits of moisture we have had, we are also seeing ticks begin to explode on the scene.
Ticks tend to flourish when vegetation flourishes, especially in weeds and unmanaged areas. To minimize the number of ticks on your property, he said it’s best to keep lawns mowed and generally reduce unmanaged areas where weeds can flourish.
There are four types of ticks that we recognize in Kansas:
American Dog Tick- this tick is very common throughout Kansas. In its typical development, the larvae usually feeds on small mammals such as rats and mice.
Nymphs can be found on cats, dogs, rabbits, raccoons and other medium to small sized mammals. The unengorged adult tick feeds on cats, dogs, horses, cattle and other large mammals.
Its entire life cycle lasts as little as three months, but typically takes two years.
In Kansas, these ticks can be encountered from March through September in grasslands and along wooded areas.
American dog ticks are of concern because they can transmit Rock Mountain Spotted Fever to goats, cats and humans, and Cytauxzoonosis- a fatal blood parasite to cats.
Lone Star Dog Tick- this tick is names for the recognizable lone white spot on the dorsal shield of the female. Males do not have a white spot, but have a few short, white or yellow stripes. Lone star dog ticks are most prevalent in the Eastern parts of Kansas, but have been found farther West.
Reforestations in urban and rural areas are the common habitat. The white-tailed deer and wild turkeys are prominent hosts.
The Lone Star Dog tick serves as a vector for human monocytic ehrlichiosis and Southern tick associated rash illness in humans as well as a host of animal related illnesses.
Brown Dog Tick- This tick is reddish brown in color, lacking the dorsal markings see on the previously mentioned tick species. It is also a three-host tick, but all stages can feed on dogs.
It is the only species of tick that infests human dwellings and kennels. It can be difficult to eradicate and usually only carries vectors harmful to pets. The adult male is dark brown, almost black.
Black Legged Tick- This tick is also known as the deer tick or Lyme diseases tick and is normally found from Florida into Central Texas and from Maine to Minnesota.
Its primary host is white tailed deer. These ticks are more of a concern in the Eastern part of the state. The adult male is dark brown, almost black. Females are two-toned: a dark to black dorsal shield covering the anterior third of the body, leaving the orange-brown posterior area of the body exposed.
Larvae are the size of poppy seeds, making them extremely difficult to see.
They pray primarily on white footed mice but also on a variety of other small mammals. The black-legged tick is the vector of Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease).
Steps to help reduce some issues with ticks include:
- When outdoors, wear repellents based on DEET or permethrin. Permethrin-based products, however, must not be applied directly to the skin.
- Tuck your pant legs into your socks. White socks are best because it’s easier to see ticks on them.
- After coming in from potentially tick-infested areas, inspect your or your children’s skin and remove ticks immediately. Also, check pets that were outdoors.
- Take a shower as soon as possible after coming indoors.
- If you find a tick that’s already embedded, gently pull it out with tweezers, including the head.
Ticks can be removed by grasping it as close to the skin as possible with fine forceps or tweezers. The trick is to remove the tick by pulling it slowly straight away from the skin, using strong, steady pressure.
A tick should never be twisted or jerked out of the skin, as this might cause the head to become left in the skin. Using a lighted match, or covering the tick in Vaseline or nail polish are not recommended. A removed tick should then be preserved in a vial or small container and labeled with the date.
If flu-like symptoms—including headache, skin rash, and fever—occur 10 to 14 days after the tick removal, see a physician immediately, place the tick in a small container with a lid and contact your local Extension Office for identification and analysis. A tick head broken off and left in the skin can potentially lead to an infection.
Keep a close eye on the area for a few days.
To learn more about ticks, visit