Blacklegged Deer Ticks

Ixodes scapularis
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What do blacklegged ticks look like?

deer tick on a leaf on the edge of a new jersey property

More commonly known as deer ticks, adult blacklegged ticks have oval shaped, orange-black bodies and black legs. Before feeding, adult deer ticks are very small, between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch in length.

After taking a blood meal, both their size and their color change, and they become larger and more rust brown in color. Adult ticks and nymphs have 8 legs; their larva only has 6 legs.

Are deer ticks dangerous?

Yes, deer ticks are dangerous because infected ticks spread several diseases including the potentially debilitating Lyme disease. 

It’s important to note that not all deer ticks are infected with disease but you should take precautions for yourself, your family and even your pets.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Early symptoms of Lyme disease can occur 3-30 days after being bitten by an infected deer tick; symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

In about 70-80% of people bitten by a deer tick a bulls-eye rash may also develop. The rash can reach 12 inches in diameter and can be found anywhere on the body. Some of the later symptoms (months after a bite) of Lyme disease can include severe head and neck aches, heart palpations, nerve pain, and joint pain and swelling.

Why do I have a deer tick problem?

Deer ticks prefer to live in moist, humid areas and can be found hiding in areas of dense vegetation, high grasses, along fence lines, along the edges of wooded paths, and in the woods. If there are any of those types of environments located on or near your property, you, your family, and your pets will most likely be in very close contact with deer ticks. Also wildlife are often hosts for deer ticks so if your property is visited by deer, mice, and other wild animals, your chances of having ticks on your property increases.

How do I control deer ticks?

Because deer ticks are often introduced to properties on wild animals, there really is no way to completely eliminate ticks.  You can implement a seasonal pest control program that combats ticks (and often mosquitoes at the same time) and that will help you significantly reduce the tick population and may prevent you and other family members from bringing these pests inside.  At Arrow Pest Control, we offer a “Bite Back!” program that targets ticks and mosquitoes common to New Jersey.  This service is effective in reducing these biting pests on your property while ticks and mosquitoes are active in New Jersey.  Professional control is highly recommended as is speaking with your vet about a tick preventative for your pets, especially those that go outside. 

What can I do to avoid deer ticks?

The best way to keep deer ticks away is to make your property less hospitable to ticks AND their hosts.  At Arrow, we recommend the follow tick prevention tips for NJ homeowners:

  • Remove bird feeders and do not feed wildlife.
  • Harvest your garden so that is does not attract wildlife.
  • Plant bushes and landscape that is not appealing to wildlife.
  • Keep your grass short.
  • Clear out overgrown areas and keep wooded areas and dense vegetation trimmed back.
  • Don’t place picnic tables or swing sets under trees.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves and pants tucked into socks when outdoors.
  • Use a tick repellent on clothing and boots.
  • Inspect yourself, family members and pets for ticks before entering your home.
  • Speak with your vet about a safe and effective tick treatment for pets. 
  • Make sure that pets that spend time outside are treated with an effective tick preventative under the guidance of their veterinarian.  

Helpful Article About Deer Ticks

Joe F.

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Matawan, NJ
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