Tick season has arrived in Massachusetts, which means that residents will want to take precautions to avoid tick bites before venturing outdoors. Massachusetts is home to several tick species that carry a variety of different diseases. The American dog tick, the brown dog tick, the lone star tick and the deer tick, also commonly known as the black-legged tick, can be found in Massachusetts, but the lone star tick is a relatively new arrival in Massachusetts, and they are not currently a significant source of human disease in the state. While it is well known that tick bites are a threat in particular outdoor locations, most people assume that ticks cannot infest indoor areas. For the most part, this is true, as ticks cannot complete their life cycle within an indoor habitat, and many adult ticks die within a short time after finding their way indoors. However, the brown dog tick is an exception in this regard, as these ticks are unique for being able to complete their life cycle within indoor locations. In fact, full blown brown dog tick infestations within Massachusetts homes are not necessarily uncommon, as dogs often transport these ticks indoors where they can establish a significant presence while still posing a disease threat to both dogs and humans.
Brown dog ticks sometimes infest dog kennels and homes where dogs can easily travel in and out of a home. Brown dog tick infestations in homes can reach high levels within a short amount of time, but homeowners usually do not notice their home is infested until ticks begin crawling up their curtains and walls. People who find that ticks have infested their home often believe that multiple tick species are present. In reality, all ticks infesting a home are brown dog ticks, but these ticks can look markedly different from one another due to the different life cycle stages. For example, nymphs are much smaller in size than adults, and female brown dog ticks consume larger blood meals than males, which makes females look much larger by comparison. Luckily, several insecticides have been approved for eradicating brown dog tick infestations from homes.
Have you ever found more than one tick within your home?