Do you have deer ticks in your yard? The black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, is more commonly known as the deer tick. If you think this common Pennsylvania pest is a problem for your family, take a look at what you need to know about the deer tick, as well as tick safety and extermination.

What Are Deer Ticks?

Deer, or black-legged, ticks are arachnids that live in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and northern central areas of the United States. To identify these backyard invaders, look for:

  • Color. Deer ticks are orange-brownish or reddish-brown in color and have dark legs.
  • Legs. These arachnids have eight legs. If the bug in your backyard has less (or more), it isn’t a deer tick.
  • Shape. The deer tick has a flat oval shape.
  • Size. Female deer ticks are about one-eighth of an inch long. The males are smaller, with an adult size of 1/16-inch.

Even though the deer tick has its own characteristic appearance, other pests may mimic the arachnids’ look. If you’re not sure whether the pests in your yard are ticks, beetles, or another bug, contact a professional for an inspection and evaluation.

Why Is Deer Tick Extermination Necessary?

If the ticks stay outside, do you really need to eliminate them? One or two ticks probably aren’t a problem. But if you have a steady invasion, these arachnid invaders could put you or your family at risk. Deer ticks are known to transmit Lyme disease to humans. The transmission cycle includes:

  • Nymphs. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most human infections occur due to bites from immature ticks — also known as nymphs. While nymphs are more likely to go unnoticed, an adult can also transmit the disease.
  • Questing. Unlike fleas and flies, ticks can’t jump or fly onto your body. The deer tick waits on grass, shrubs, or other plant-life until a suitable host passes by. This process, known as questing, allows the tick to hitchhike onto a human without most people noticing the invader.
    Attachment. The CDC notes that it typically takes 36 to 48 hours for the deer tick to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) to a human. This means the tick must stay on your body long enough to give you the disease.
  • Symptoms. Symptoms can start from three to 30 days after the bite, according to the CDC. These include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint aches, or swollen lymph nodes. You may also see a bull’s-eye-shaped rash on your skin.

While not every deer tick bite will result in Lyme disease infection, the possibility of transmission means you need to take these invaders seriously. Along with protective measures (long pants, long shirts, and insect repellent sprays), a pest control professional can reduce the risks.

How Should You Eliminate Deer Ticks?

Deer tick extermination is not a do-it-yourself job. Avoid commercially available products or homemade treatments. This can pose safety risks to you and the wildlife in your yard. A DIY extermination job may also leave ticks behind, which opens your home to a re-infestation.

  • When you hire a professional to exterminate the deer ticks in your yard, ask:
  • How much experience do you have? The exterminator should have specialized experience handling deer tick infestations.
  • How do you plan to treat the area? Learn more about the type of treatment, how it affects your yard (including wildlife and plant life), and the impact it could have on your family.
  • What types of maintenance services do you offer? The ticks could come back. Prevent a re-infestation with routine pest prevention services.
    The pest control professional can also help you to tick-proof your home. This may include recommendations for preventative and protective measures or the extermination of tick-carrying pests, such as raccoons or squirrels.

Is your yard a haven for deer ticks? Contact Environmental Services Pest Control for more information.