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About the Wood Tick

 by james on 29 Nov 2022 |
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The Wood Tick: what is it?
 
 
Wood Tick - Dermacentor variabilis
 
The Wood tick, often called the American dog tick or just the dog tick, is a particularly concerning type of tick that transmits a number of diseases that are harmful to both people and animals. One of the most prevalent vectors of infections in dogs is the wood tick, particularly Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia (Rabbit Fever), and tick paralysis.
 
Wood ticks belong to the hard tick family and can be identified by their pronounced heads and hard shields, or scutums.
 
Identification of the Wood Tick
 
have a back that is gray with splotches. Deer ticks, which transmit Lyme disease, are frequently mistaken for American dog ticks (wood ticks). The Lyme illness is not spread by the American dog tick.
 
The body of the American dog tick is also oval in shape and has a flat top. The average female is roughly 5 mm long, compared to the average male, who is 15 mm long and 10 mm wide when engorged (with blood). When not engorged, males are only 3.6 mm long.
 
Known also as "blacklegged ticks," deer ticks are significantly smaller than wood ticks and can be identified by their, you guessed it, black legs.
 
 
Lifecycle of the Wood Tick
 
A kind of tick known as a wood tick has three hosts and has four unique lifecycle stages: eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults.
 
A tick must consume blood from a host at every stage of its life after emerging from its egg. A larva, often known as a seed tick, is a newly hatched tick. Tick larvae are only six-legged and only an eighth 
 
Tick larvae can't jump, so they must stand on grass blades or perch on plants until a warm-blooded mammal passes by, at which time they grab on. The tick appears to be trying to stand up and grab the sky when it engages in a behavior known as "questing." The larva will transform into an eight-legged nymph after finishing its initial host's meal and falling to the ground.
 
Then, nymphs wait for a second warm-blooded host, such as a raccoon, possum, or other large animal, to pass along. The nymph will then continue to feed for a few days until it swells with blood. Once more falling to the ground, it molts into an adult tick.
 
The third and last host that adult ticks will seek out is a large animal, such as a dog or a deer, where they can feed, reproduce, leave droppings, and lay eggs. The female passes away after producing a few thousand eggs. The complete tick lifespan might last anywhere from three months to eighteen months, depending on the species. The typical wood tick life cycle in northern states is two years.
 
Habitat and History
 
American dog ticks can be found wherever there are domestic animals or cattle, including in heavily forested areas, shrubs, thick grasses, and shrubbery. The eastern two-thirds of the United States as well as the West Coast make up its natural range. They enjoy being outside in humid conditions. If a wood tick is discovered inside, it most likely fell off of the host animal after being engorged.
 
Ticks and arachnids, including spiders and mites, are most closely related. When the weather warms up in the spring, which is also when females deposit their eggs, they resume their dormant wintertime behavior. Adult females go dormant and live in leaf litter until the next spring if they are unable to find a suitable host during the fall. This is why, regardless of the season, it's crucial to check for ticks after being outside in the woods.
 
The wood tick has a variable peak activity period depending on where in the nation you live. Maintaining a groomed lawn and clearing the area of any leaf litter is crucial. Check out our article on 10 facts about ticks to learn more about ticks, including how to keep them off of you and your pets.
 
What to Do if Your Pet Has a Wood Tick
 
Don't panic, first and foremost. The sooner you remove the tick, the better because it typically takes a tick 6 to 8 hours after eating to transmit any diseases it may be carrying.
 
Always put on gloves and firmly hold the tick by the head with a pair of tweezers. The tick's head could loosen and remain within your dog or cat, where it could spread an infection, if you pull it by the body. Instead, pull until the tick's head releases while using a steady upward motion. After that, place the body in a glass jar and make a call to your vet. Ask your veterinarian about the tick and whether you should bring it in to be examined for disease.
 
Visit our comprehensive guide on eliminating ticks to learn more.
 
Once the tick has been removed from your pet, clean the bite area with an alcohol swab or another antiseptic before applying a dab of Neosporin to the skin. For the upcoming several weeks, keep a watch on your dog or cat to look for signs of an infection brought on by a tick.
 
Here are some recommendations for keeping your pet from ever becoming a tick host:
 
Always stay in the middle of the path when taking your dog for a walk, and keep an eye out for overhead tree branches. Ticks frequently land on their prey from shrubs and trees.
Keep your pet away from heaps of branches or leaves and leaf litter. Another location where ticks like to wait in wait is this one.
After returning from an outdoor trip, make sure you and your pet are both tick-free. Be sure to look inside ears, between paw pads, in the inner thighs where they meet the body, in any skin folds, and in females, around the vulva. Because they are warm and humid, ticks 
Because there is more hair for the tick to latch onto, pets with long hair are more likely to contract ticks. After a trip or stroll, always brush your pet to get rid of any messes.
Keep your yard's edges tidy and mowed. Keep your yard neatly manicured and free of clutter to help prevent ticks from entering your yard and attaching themselves to your dogs. Ticks prefer to live on the edges 

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