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Most people think of ticks as insects when in fact they are arachnids, which are in the mite family.
Insects have three body parts where an arachnid only has two an insect all have six legs where
the ticks may contain six and eight legs. Six in their immature stage and eight as adults. When
treating ticks it is best to think of them as you would fleas, because they both feed on blood and
their treatment materials and methods are similar.
Ticks infect people and our pets with a wide range of disease. The most notable of these are lyme
disease, q fever, colorado tick fever, tularemia, rocky mountain spotted fever, tick-born relapsing
fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and meningoencephalitis and anaplasmosis. These lyme disease
should be feared the most. Lyme is an auto immune disease that strikes throughout the body. If
not treated shortly after the person is infected it goes dormant only to reappear years later with
devastating and crippling effects. Most doctors misdiagnose lyme disease because it mimics many
other aliments such as colds, arthritis, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia etc. In some it attacks the
spine causing it to degenerate. Please be aware, there is no cure for lyme disease. If detected
early and treated aggressively it can be placed in remission but the disease will never leave the
body and may re-appear years later for no apparent reason.
Ticks don't like to crawl far, jump or fly, they're like hobos. They are transported from one area to
another by hitching a ride on a passing pets or people. Tick infestations start when they are
brought into a yard or home by rats, mice, squirrels, opossums or raccoons. Sometimes the
infestation source is the farm or the pet hotel. You can even pick them up while walking the dog in
It only takes one tick start an infestation as each female can lay 2000 to 3000 thousand eggs at a
time. An infestation can seem to appear overnight but in reality it probably has been building for
weeks. When the tick eggs hatches the nymphs are about the size of a pencil dot. They may look
like dirt and even when they are fully grown they are hard to see. Inside they will hide in cracks,
folds of cloth, furniture, on your pet and in places you can't see. They infest the curtains, blinds,
furniture, wall hung items etc. Outside ticks will be found below ground cover debris, in the grass,
on the exterior walls and even in the trees and shrubbery. After taking a blood meal and when she
is getting ready to have another batch of eggs the female will crawl up high to deposit her eggs.
When the new kids hatch they drop down and wait for the next meal to come by.
When a tick feeds it uses cutting teeth to break the skin and then it insert a suction tube into the
wound. Once the skin is pierced the tick spits it's saliva into the wound which contains a numbing
agent and an anticoagulant. The numbing agent mask the bite and the anticoagulant thins the
blood to makes it easier for the tick to drink. The diseases they transmit to us are carried in the
In the Gulf Coast area of the U.S. The more common ticks we encounter are the american, the
lone star and the brown dog ticks. All three can be found outdoors but one, the brown dog tick, can
and often does live inside. If you see ticks on your walls or in your furniture you can bet it is the
brown dog tick.
The key to tick elimination is thoroughness in your chemical application. It takes a lot of time,
experience and chemicals to get rid of ticks and I don't recommend this as a "do-it-yourself"
project. It also takes a lot of cooperation on the part of the homeowners. Before any materials can
be applied resident must pick up everything off the floor (don't forget those things you have hidden
under the beds) and any items in the yard that "fido" could put in his mouth. The carpets, floors,
drapes, curtains, blinds, wall hanging items, furniture etc., must be vacuumed and the bag placed
in the exterior trash can. Those items "fido" could put in his mouth should be washed with soap
and water and kept out of the yard for a week. You and the pets must stay off the floors and out of
the yard until they dry, usually two to four hours.
Inside the home the pest control technician will use an adulticide and an insect growth regulator.
He will apply this to the floor and cloth furniture and he will use an aerosol on the window
coverings and wall hanging items. When treating the yard, trees, shrubbery and exterior wall he
will us his truck mounted spray rig. If you have ticks in the garage or other storage area he will use
liquids, aerosols or maybe a powder. The trick to total elimination is not to miss any areas.
You should take your pets to your veterinarian and have them treated for ticks or use one of the
pet sprays your pest control may supplies. Your vet will "de-tick" your pet in a wash or with a
shampoo and most will then recommend a product like Frontline or K-9. These products are
POISONS. They stay "on and inside" your pet for a long time. Frontline employs Pyrethrins and K-
9 uses both Pyrethins and Imidacloprid. Both of these products attack the nervous system. In 2008
the EPA received 44,263 complaints associated with Tick and flea topical treatments on pets. This
is an increase of more than 50% over 2007. They also reported more than 600 pet deaths and
numerous skin irritation and neurological problems.
For the safety of both you and your children I strongly urge you not to pet or handle your pets for
several days after the drops have been applied. My family has 6 dogs and 9 cats and we live on
11 acres in a wooded area next to a state park. We have many wild animals that come close to
our home, play in our yard and we don't have ticks or fleas. We employ least toxic and green
materials to maintain a pest free environment around our home.
Good pest control procedures can keep your home and pets free of ticks.
Don Nettles is President of Nettles Exterminating, a Houston based pest control company in
business since 1968. Don is an Associate Certified Entomogolgist, an activist when it comes to
saving the environment and directed his company into the GREEN/ECO-FRIENDLY way of
thinking long before it was popular. He and his wife, Cynthia, still work daily in the business and
while the company has grown substantially they still think of themselves as a "family owned"
business. Don can be heard on CBS/CNN hosting and producing the radio show "Community
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