Understanding The Tick Life Cycle

 
Did you know that a female tick can lay up to several thousand eggs at a time? Yikes! But this enormous capacity alone is not what makes tick control so challenging. The tick life cycle adds special challenges. Understanding how ticks reproduce and the complex life cycle of ticks can help you combat the little bloodsuckers more effectively.

Why Understanding the Tick Life Cycle Matters

Ticks are more than just a nuisance. They can cause anemia in people and pets and transmit viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, and tularemia.

Understanding the life cycle of ticks and where they lay their eggs can help prevent a tick infestation in your yard.

How Do Ticks Reproduce?

Most ticks mate on their host animal. After a female tick feeds and is engorged with blood, she releases pheromones to attract a mate. Male ticks climb aboard the animal host to find and mate with the receptive female. Often, multiple males respond and fight for the right to mate with the female. The female tick can mate with many males, with the sperm from each competing within her reproductive tract. Once mating is complete, the female drops off the host to lay her eggs and begin the tick life cycle anew.

A single female Ixodes tick (such as the black-legged tick, which transmits Lyme disease) can lay 1,500 to 2,000 eggs. A female Dermacentor tick (including the American dog tick) may lay upwards of 4,000 to 6,500 eggs.

Tick Life Cycle – How Long Does Each Stage Last?

The tick life cycle has four distinct stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Each stage following hatching requires a blood meal.

Stage 1: Eggs

After feeding through some of the winter and spring months, adult female ticks drop off their host to lay their eggs in protected grass. The female digests her blood meal for several days to weeks, depending upon the temperature, before she lays thousands of eggs. Tick eggs hatch in a few weeks to several months. Warm, humid conditions speed digestion, egg laying, and hatching.

Stage 2: Larvae

Once hatched, tick larvae or “seed ticks” have just six legs in contrast to the eight legs of nymphs and adults. Seed ticks begin searching for a host to feed on. They climb to the tops of tall grass, “questing” for a host where pet and human activity are generally high. Once they find a host, the larval ticks climb the animal, looking for a spot to attach and feed. They like spots where the skin is thinner, fur or hair is less dense, and where they are unlikely to be disturbed. Once the seed tick has found a host and is attached, it feeds on the host’s blood for about 3 to 5 days before dropping off for molting into the next stage in the tick’s life cycle.

Stage 3: Nymph

Once the larvae have drunk their fill of blood, they will drop off the host to digest their meal and molt into eight-legged nymphs. Digestion may take several days to weeks, with warmer, humid weather speeding the process. Nymphs then climb to the tops of grasses or leaves to quest for a host. Again, the nymph attaches to the new host, feeding for several days to a week before dropping off.

As the nymph feeds, it also transmits any disease or parasites to the new host it picked up as a seed tick. Nymphs are even more effective at spreading disease than adult ticks because they are smaller and more likely to be overlooked by their hosts.

Stage 4: Adult

After the satiated nymph drops off its host, it digests its blood meal and begins molting into an adult. The nymph sheds its exoskeleton to emerge as a sexually mature adult. Adult ticks then go for a third quest, seeking a larger host and blood meal. Adult ticks, too, spread pathogens they picked up from prior hosts. After feeding, the female releases hormones, advertising her readiness for mating.

The entire tick life cycle involves just three blood meals and can take up to three years to complete.

What is the Life Expectancy of Ticks?

The lifespan of a single tick depends on how long it takes to complete each of the four stages of the tick life cycle. The greatest time is spent between blood meals. If a tick cannot find a host, it can die of starvation. However, ticks are remarkably resilient and can survive long periods between meals:

  • Larvae can live for several months without feeding.
  • Nymphs may survive without a meal for up to several months, depending on the species.
  • Adult ticks can survive for months or even a year after molting until they find a host for their final blood meal.

Ticks have a slow metabolism and physiological adaptations that enable them to conserve energy between blood meals. They spend the majority of their lives in shaded woods and grasslands, seeking out hosts only to feed.

Don’t Let Ticks Take Over Your Life!

The complexity of the tick’s life cycle makes it challenging to rid your property of infestations. Trust the pros at Mosquito Joe® to protect your family and pets from the bloodthirsty little suckers. You know you’ll be pleased with our pest control services. Everything we do is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and our Mosquito Joe Satisfaction Guarantee. Request a free quote today. Let’s send those nasty biters packing!

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The Importance of Tick Repellents and Natural Alternatives

Throughout North America, various tick populations are rising and expanding their territories. The little bloodsuckers carry disease, and it’s not just our pets that need protection. It’s also essential to check for ticks at home and to use a tick-repellent when you visit the great outdoors to protect your family’s health and well-being. Not a fan of putting chemicals on your skin? Consider using essential oils to repel ticks.

Are Ticks Dangerous?

Ticks are highly efficient at transmitting diseases from animals to humans. It’s not just that they feed on blood like mosquitoes do. When a tick bites, it uses microscopic hooks in its mouthparts to grab ahold, then inserts its barbed tongue into its host’s flesh. Once attached, the tick continues to feed for three to six days. While drinking blood, it injects its saliva and the germs, bacteria, and pathogens it carries into the host’s bloodstream.

Ticks can carry a wide range of diseases, bacteria, and parasites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ticks in the United States carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, and Powassan encephalitis, among others. The CDC urges using tick repellents outdoors in wooded or grassy areas.

Ticks are indeed dangerous to your pets and your family. Whether you are exploring the great outdoors or simply playing fetch in the backyard with your furry friend, it’s important to be watchful for ticks. While professional tick control services can help keep your property bite-free, you should use tick repellent when you visit the beach or go camping. Learn how to remove a tick properly once it bites — just in case.

Natural Ingredients for Tick Repellent

If you are looking for a natural tick repellent, essential oils can offer significant protection. Plant-derived essential oils can be applied to clothing or directly on the skin to help keep ticks at bay. And essential oils for ticks are not the only natural tick repellent. You might have a couple of ingredients for your own tick-prevention solution right in your cupboard. Here are some essential oils and other natural remedies to consider:

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Lemon eucalyptus is a pleasant-smelling essential oil that can repel ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests. Due to its potency, use it sparingly with pets or select a different natural tick repellent around furry friends.

Cedarwood Oil

Cedarwood is toxic to ticks and their larvae, making it a prime essential oil for ticks. It can be used on people and dogs, making it one of the best options for an essential oil repellent.

Geranium Oil

Geranium essential oil is a potent and effective tick repellent. Dilute with a carrier oil and apply to your skin or spray on your dog’s coat to deter ticks.

Garlic Oil

Useful beyond seasoning a savory dish, garlic also makes a potent natural tick repellent. Mix minced garlic with mineral oil and allow it to soak overnight. Then, put the mixture in a spray bottle. It can be sprayed directly on your skin, pets, or plants to repel ticks naturally.

Lavender Oil

Versatile and virulent to insects, lavender can be a fantastic addition to your bug-fighting arsenal. This essential oil can be used on people of all ages, including infants, and it is lethal to ticks and their eggs.

Pennyroyal Oil

A powerful member of the mint family, pennyroyal can serve as an excellent tick deterrent. Pennyroyal is best applied under cushions, rugs, and fabrics in the home as a natural tick repellent in case pets bring ticks into the home. CAUTION: It should not be used on your skin or pets.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Is there anything that apple cider vinegar can’t do? It is excellent for natural tick prevention, and the entire family can use it. Mix a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water to spray your pet’s coat or your skin before hitting the hiking trails.

Tips for Using Natural Tick Repellents

Just because a tick repellent is made from natural ingredients doesn’t mean it is okay for use on people or pets. Please take great care in selecting natural tick repellents that are appropriate for your needs. Some essential oils are toxic to pets, and some are harmful to cats but not dogs.

Proper Application Techniques

To avoid skin irritation, dilute any essential oil for ticks with a carrier oil before using it directly on your skin. Good choices include coconut, avocado, jojoba, grapeseed, or olive oil. For adults, a 5% dilution rate, or 30 drops of the essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil, makes an effective natural tick repellent. Another option is to mix 5 to 10 drops of the essential oil with 8 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Shake well, then spray on your skin, your pet’s coat (choose an essential oil that is okay for pets), or your clothing, hat, and shoes.

Be sure to do a patch test before using the tick repellent. If it irritates the skin or stains the fabric, choose another option. Then, apply the repellent generously and evenly, covering all exposed skin. To apply to your pet’s coat, spray lightly and evenly.

Frequency of Reapplication

Natural tick repellents, like those discussed here, can be as effective as their chemical counterparts. However, they do not last as long. For optimal protection, reapply every 2-4 hours. Hot and humid weather will require more frequent application. Reapply after swimming or sweating.

Using Essential Oil as Tick Repellant on Pets and Children

Although essential oils are natural, don’t forget that they can be toxic. Not all essential oils are safe for humans to use topically, and many can be harmful to pets. For children two years and older, dilute human-safe essential oils to a 1 to 2% solution, which translates to 6 to 12 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil. For use on your pet, consult your vet for the best essential oils for ticks. Then, add 5 to 10 drops of pet-safe essential oil to 8 ounces of water. Shake well before spraying lightly on your pet’s coat.

Enhancing Effectiveness with Yard Treatments

Essential oils and other natural tick repellents are great choices when visiting tick country, the woodsy, grassy, or brushy outdoor areas where ticks thrive. These include the mountains, the woods, grasslands, and beaches. But when you live in tick country, professional tick control will be necessary to stay ahead of the little suckers. Mosquito Joe® offers natural tick pest control powered by essential oils and garlic. As wildlife passes through your property, hitchhiking ticks can drop off, ready to latch onto your pet or child. Our natural tick control can protect your property and family from the pests and the diseases they carry.

Combining with Other Pest Control Methods

Protecting your family and pets from ticks is critical, requiring the broad-based approach of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This involves the use of pest control services targeting ticks, personal tick repellent, manipulation of local habitat, and cultural practices. There are several approaches to ridding your property of ticks naturally. But whether you hire professional tick control or do it on your own, you’ll have far greater success if you also disrupt tick habitats in your yard.

When you need professional help to stay ahead of ticks, call on your locally owned and operated Mosquito Joe. We’re your local tick experts, and our natural tick control protects your family from ticks without using the harsh chemicals you want to avoid. We know you’ll be pleased with our work because the Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and our Mosquito Joe Satisfaction Guarantee back everything we do.

Request a free quote today. Let’s kick ticks for good and make your outdoor spaces fun again!

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Where Do Mosquitoes Live?

With warm weather right around the corner, mosquitoes are quick to follow. When you start to feel the itchiness from the first mosquito bite of the season, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Where are all of these mosquitoes coming from?!” The pest experts of Mosquito Joe are here to answer where these pesky pests live and how you can decrease their population in your yard.

Where Do Mosquitoes Live?

While it may seem that mosquitoes occupy your backyard and eardrums alone, mosquitoes actually live in different environments throughout their lifecycle. These environments include standing water (ponds, puddles, wetlands), tall grass, hollow logs, and under leaf litter.

Mosquito Eggs

In the early stages of their life, mosquitoes are aquatic. Eggs could be laid in flood areas, standing water, or damp soil, but water must be present for the eggs to hatch. This is the reason that eliminating standing water from your yard is an effective measure for decreasing mosquitoes.

Mosquito Larva & Pupa

Mosquito larvae spend their entire lives developing in water and feeding on microorganisms, algae, and so on. Once a mosquito larva has molted four times, it develops into the pupa stage, which is also aquatic. From here, the adult mosquito emerges from its casing, dries its wings, and takes flight.

As you can see, water plays an extremely important role in mosquitoes making their way from eggs to adults.

Adult Mosquitoes

Once mosquitoes become full-fledged adults they begin breeding, often within 28 hours of emerging from pupal stage. Females require a blood meal to mate successfully. When they are not out for blood or breeding, adult mosquitoes rest in tall grass; inside logs, hollow trees or stumps; or under leaf litter.

Mosquito Nest: Is It Real?

As you may have noticed, none of these mosquito life stages describe what we might think of as a nest. Mosquitoes are not social insects such as bees or ants, so they will not form a familial or collective nest. Unfortunately, that means removing mosquitoes from your yard is a little trickier than simply finding their nest and decimating it, no matter how satisfying that would be.

How To Decrease Their Population In Your Yard

Mosquito Joe is here to rid your yard of any mosquitoes that are ruining your outdoor fun. Here are some measures you can take to make sure mosquitoes aren’t bugging you:

  • Regularly empty ponds, bird baths, fountains, buckets, kids toys and anything else that may gather water.
  • Drill holes in tire swings, trash cans and recycle bins so stagnant water cannot accumulate.
  • Cut grass and shrubs short – adult mosquitoes gather to rest in shady areas.
  • Clean out gutters to avoid standing water.
  • Repair leaky outdoor faucets.
  • Let Mosquito Joe be your second line of defense by getting a barrier treatment that protects your yard from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas

 

If it feels like the mosquitoes in your yard never take a break, it’s time to take a stand! Call the pros at Mosquito Joe today at 1-855-275-2563 or contact us online and make the backyard yours again!

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What Plants Keep Mosquitoes Away?

The whine of a mosquito in your ear is a nettlesome annoyance to your back-porch nap. You’ve tried lighting citronella candles and dabbled with insect repellent devices—but is there a more natural way to keep the mosquitoes at bay? 

We bet you didn’t know that you can use plants to mitigate mosquitoes! Some naturally deter insects and can contribute to a pest-free backyard. So, what plants keep mosquitoes away? Where should they be situated to thrive, and should they be planted or potted? 

Let the insect experts at Mosquito Joe shed some light on what plants help keep mosquitoes away. 

What Kind of Plants Keep Mosquitoes Away?

While no single plant is a pest panacea, these florae all contain some form of mosquito repellent property. To help deter mosquitoes from your yard, you can plant the following plants: 

Basil

  • Fragrant and fresh basil can be more than a bright herb in bruschetta. Mosquitoes are not fond of basil, so you can create a barrier around any standing water on your property to discourage any mosquito egg-laying. Basil flourishes in full sun, well-drained soil, and a large pot allowing airflow between plants.  

Bee Balm

  • Also known as wild bergamot, bee balm has the twofold benefit of deterring mosquitoes and inviting desirable pollinators like bees and butterflies. Make sure you allow for full sun and soil that allows drainage. 

Catnip

  • Felines are drawn by the naturally occurring chemical nepetalactone that catnip produces. It is this same cat-alluring compound that keeps mosquitoes away and makes it one of the most effective plants for mosquito control. However, if you do have cats, this might not be the best option for you. Catnip can grow in full sun or partial shade and does better with well-drained soil. Keep it in its own pot, if you don’t want it to grow freely in your garden, where it can become a bit invasive. 

Citronella

  • A familiar ingredient in mosquito-repellent candles, the plant itself produces a strong scent that overwhelms other mosquito attractants. Situate in full sun or partial shade and plant in large planters or let it thrive in a garden. 

Lavender

  • The soothing scent of fresh lavender also serves to rebuff mosquitoes. Opt for a large pot or let it flourish in the garden if you have the available space. (Lavender can swell to a sizeable bush.) Keep in sunlight. 

Lemon Balm 

  • This lovely decorative plant can be used for more than just décor. Place around your patio space to ward off mosquito intrusion. Situate in full sun and keep potted as it can overrun a garden if planted. 

Lemongrass

  • This plant contains citral, a natural oil that is used in mosquito repellents, and it serves well as an organic deterrent. Grow in a large pot with ample drainage and leave in full sun.  

Marigold

  • Pleasant in color and full in fragrance, marigolds work delightfully well to edge a garden and to repel mosquitoes. These flowering plants contain the compound pyrethrum, which is used in insect repellents. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil. 

Peppermint

  • Crisp and bright in scent, peppermint is also natural mosquito repellent. Like other members of the mint family, this plant can invade a garden if let loose. Situate in a planter in the full sun with damp soil. 

 

The right plants can be a beneficial ally in the fight for a pest-free backyard. To add to this second line of defense, call Mosquito Joe today to spray a barrier treatment on your property to rid mosquitoes, ticks and fleas from your property. Give us a call at 1-855-275-2563 or contact us online so we can make outside fun again for you and your family. 

Ready to tackle a larger landscaping project? Explore these outdoor landscaping ideas from The Grounds Guys, a fellow member of the Neighborly® family of home service brands

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