Posts Tagged types of ticks

Tick Killing Robot to Begin Trials Next Summer

I must admit that I am afraid of ticks (blame it on the job). The idea of a bug burrowing its head into my skin has always freaked me out. Naturally when I saw an article come across my computer screen that said “Tick Killing Robot,” I was intrigued.

Ticks Populations increaseWhen engineering professor, Jim Squire’s daughter was bitten by a tick, he began to look for ways to rid specific areas of the pest. He worked with his colleague David Livingston and tick expert Daniel Sonenshine to create a robot that can kill ticks. Sonenshine suggested that instead of having the robot seek out tick habitats it would be much easier to attract the ticks to the robot.

The idea behind the robot is pretty simple. Ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide. Sonenshine, Livingston and Squire laid tubing that emits carbon dioxide. After the tubing has been able to give off carbon dioxide for 15 minutes, the robot follows the tubing, dragging a piece of cloth behind it that has been treated with a pesticide. The ticks will attach to the cloth, killing them.

Honestly, the idea seemed so simple to me that I didn’t think that it could work, but very early studies look promising. In one lab test, the environment was seeded with 50 ticks. The robot was able to lure in and kill 45 of them on the first swipe. As Livingston says, “we were shocked. We didn’t expect it to be that efficient.”

Results continue to look positive, even after the studies move outdoors. The robot killed almost 100% of the seeded ticks within the designated test area and the area stayed clear of ticks for nearly 18 hours. The next step is to test the robot on residential properties, which will begin next summer. “We’re not eradicating ticks by any means,” says Livingston. “We’re just very surgically eliminating them from a particular area. Once we clean the yard, how long before they come back? If we can keep it clean for a number of days, then it’s going to be a viable product. If they come back overnight, not so much.” Source.

Because of the pesticide applied to the cloth behind the robot, it has to be handled by a licensed professional. We at Mosquito Squad will be paying close attention to the tick killing robot to see if it can outperform our current tick control treatments and if it makes sense to add to our service.

We shared the professors concern about ticks. There are too many species that transmit dangerous disease to humans. Currently, our professional tick control consists of a barrier spray and ticks tubes. Our mosquito barrier spray eliminates adult ticks on contact and will cut down on a property’s tick population greatly. Additionally, for those clients that are worried about ticks, we place tick tubes around their property. The tubes are filled with treated cotton. That cotton attracts mice that  use it for bedding material. Ticks usually get their first blood meal from mice, so by treating their bedding, we are treating their skin (much like a topical dog treatment), killing the ticks (it won’t kill the mice).

If you have questions on ways to get rid of the ticks on your property, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Do All Ticks Carry Lyme disease?

As Lyme disease Awareness Month winds down, the tick population is out and active. Just this past weekend I was working in the yard with my husband when he noticed a tick on his shirt. Lucky for us, we were able to see it easily on his white long-sleeved shirt (yes, I made him wear long sleeves). Had he had dark colors or a T-shirt on we may not have seen it until it had already attached. Of course, this tick encounter came up at a barbecue later that night and I was surprised to hear how little people know about both ticks and Lyme disease. Since it’s almost June and will no longer be Lyme disease Awareness month, let’s address some commonly asked questions…

Do all ticks carry Lyme disease? No, there are many species of ticks, but only the blacklegged, or deer, ticks carry Lyme disease and only 1 in 4 or 5 deer ticks carry Lyme.

Tick Bite

Engorged tick

How can I distinguish a deer tick from another type of tick? Deer ticks have black legs (hence the name blacklegged tick). When a deer tick hasn’t had a blood meal, its back is most commonly black and brown, however, when it is engorged, the body turns a grayish blue color.

Are there signs that there are ticks in my area? The most obvious way to tell if there are deer ticks in your area are to see if you have an active deer population. Deer are the most common transportation method for deer ticks. Anywhere you have deer, you will find ticks.

What are the best ways to avoid tick bites and Lyme disease? Anyone who spends time outdoors has the opportunity to be bitten by a tick, but there are things you can do to minimize your risk. Wearing lose, light colored clothing will make ticks easier to spot. Make sure to do a thorough tick check after spending time outdoors, paying particular attention to the dark, hard to reach areas that ticks like to hide and attach. This includes your armpits, behind the knee and the groin. According to most sources, a tick has to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.

Does a bull’s-eye rash develop in all cases of Lyme? No, not all people with Lyme disease have the bull’s-eye rash, but the majority do. Between 80-90% of people with Lyme do have some form of the rash, but sometimes they can’t see it depending on where the tick bite happened. The rash will center around the tick bite. Other symptoms of Lyme are joint pain, fatigue, headaches and fever.

Is Lyme disease easily treated? When Lyme is diagnosed early it is easily treated with antibiotics. About 10-20% of cases develop chronic Lyme disease which is more difficult to treat. The earlier it can be diagnosed, the less likely you are to have long term effects of Lyme.

How do I remove an attached tick? Despite the many myths involving burning and suffocating ticks, the best way to remove a tick is with tweezers. Grab the tick with the tweezers as close to your body as possible and pull out straight, making sure that the entire head is removed. Ticks have beak-like mouths so it may be difficult to pull it off. After removing the tick, place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested by the doctor and wash the tick bite out with soap and water.

Are there things I can do in my yard to avoid ticks and minimize my chance of getting Lyme? Yes, at Mosquito Squad we recommend the 6 Cs of tick control.

  1. Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead

    Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead before they can bite and transmit Lyme disease

    Clear out. Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic. Separate them with wood chips or gravel. Don’t position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas.

  2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short.
  3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
  4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.
  5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully.
  6. Call the pros. Professionals utilize both barrier sprays that can kill live ticks on the spot as well as “tick tubes.” Strategically placed, “tick tubes” prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

When it comes to treatment, do not hesitate to reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office. Not only do our tick treatments for the yard include tick tubes, but also our barrier spray. Our barrier spray will adult ticks on contact before they bite you and your family.

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Lyme Disease App – helping to prevent and fight Lyme disease

I never thought that I would download a Lyme disease application on my phone, but the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF) proved me wrong. At the end of last summer, the ALDF released an iPhone app title “Lyme Disease Tick Map” to educate people on the dangers of Lyme disease ways to prevent it. At Mosquito Squad, we have seen some crazy tick and mosquito control phone apps, but haven’t been very impressed, but I have to say this app has some pretty cool tools inside.

Here is the icon for the ALDF's iPhone app

Here is the icon for the ALDF’s iPhone app

When you open the Lyme Disease Tick Map application, it gives you a table of contents for an easy way to find information. Here’s what it offers:

Tick Map. It is just what it says. The application will read where you are currently located and tell you how likely you are to be bitten by an infected tick. For example, I am located in Richmond, VA and it tells me that right now it is rare that I would be bitten by a tick infected with Lyme. The scale goes from no ticks to an abundance of ticks.

How to Prevent Lyme Disease. This section provides the user with bullet points on how to avoid tick bites (and thus Lyme disease), including wearing the appropriate clothing and better areas to walk if you are spending time outdoors.

ALDF's app provides information through the table of contents

ALDF’s app provides information through the table of contents

How to Identify a Tick. For those people who live in areas with several species of ticks, this section of ALDF’s app is really helpful. It includes images of the most common types of ticks for quick comparisons. In the deer tick section (deer ticks are the only ticks that transmit Lyme disease), the images are clickable so you that you can see the differences between larva, nymph, male and female ticks and it will tell you which ones are most likely to bite and spread Lyme.

How to Remove a Tick. There are a ton of theories regarding the best way to remove an attached tick. Unfortunately, several of them not only don’t help, but may increase your chances of getting Lyme. This section of the app provides both a video and a step-by-step guide covering how to remove the tick properly.

Duration of Attachment. The longer a tick has been feeding, the more likely it is that Lyme disease has been transferred to you (if the tick is infected). It can be difficult to know, however, how long a tick has been attached (I don’t know about you, but I don’t look at the back of my knee all too often). The duration of attachment section show pictures of ticks at different stages of attachment so the user can compare the photos and decide if they need to see a doctor.

Lyme Disease Symptoms. This section is not for the squeamish! It shows pictures as well as describes different symptoms of Lyme.

Find a Physician. I’m not sure how doctors get listed on ALDF’s app, but when I pressed it, it provided me the name and contact information for a local infectious disease doctor.

Helpful Links. There are links to other helpful organizations that provide information on Lyme disease.

About the App. You guessed it, this section provides the background on the app.

The app as a whole is a pretty good reference tool for ticks and Lyme disease, especially if you have been bitten and aren’t sure what type of tick bit you, how long it has been there and how to remove it. At Mosquito Squad, we protect our clients against tick bites and Lyme disease with a combination of our barrier spray and tick tubes. Professional tick control will help fight off ticks before they can bite and infect you.

If you have questions regarding tick control on your property, please call your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Lone Star Ticks Causing Meat Allergies

Ticks have been a major player in the news this year. The media has been warning viewers and readers to protect themselves from ticks in a year that is bringing out more and more ticks. While we’ve known that ticks can cause Lyme disease and other diseases, a new study is showing that the Lone Star tick is causing meat allergies, turning those hamburger lovers into veggie burger eaters.

Lone-Star-Tick-Meat-Allergy

A Lone Star tick is defined by the white mark on its back

There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world, with three of the most common ticks in the United States being the blacklegged (deer) tick, American dog tick and the Lone Star tick. The Lone Star tick is named for its defining white spot on its back and in states from Texas to Maine. A recent study by the University Of Virginia (UVA) says that bites from the Lone Star tick is causing new meat allergies.

“’People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction,’ says Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.” (See full story from ABC News here). Many of the patients studied had such bad reactions that they stopped eating meat all together.

While Commins has worked with 400 patients, this allergy is very odd. It is uncommon for adults to develop food allergies later in life, yet 90% of the patients have a history of tick bites. Additionally, with normal food allergies, patients see effects of eating the food almost instantly. These tick bite patients aren’t developing hives or any other symptoms until four to six hours after eating. “It’s complicated, no doubt,” says Commins, “but we think it’s something in the saliva.”

When ticks bite a human they leave a small amount of saliva under the skin. Commins theory is that there is something in the saliva that reacts with meat.

The majority of meat allergy cases popping up have occurred along the east coast and Bible belt, mirroring the population of the Lone Star tick. As always, we at Mosquito Squad encourage everyone who spends time outdoors to do thorough body checks and remove the tick promptly if you find any on you. If you can, take note of what the tick looks like in case you start to show symptoms of tick borne disease.

If you live in an area with a large population of ticks, professional tick control may be necessary.

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