Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Types of Ticks in Michigan: What you Need to Know

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Did you know that there are some 20 different types of ticks in Michigan? Although most of them are harmless to humans and pets, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services warns that some ticks can cause serious illnesses if not diagnosed and treated properly.

Top Five Types of Ticks in Michigan

Ticks are pathogen carriers and can make you sick. So, identifying the types of ticks in your state and staying away from them is very important. In this blog post, we will discuss the top five types of ticks in Michigan and the diseases they can cause.

American Dog Ticks

Also known as the wood tick, the dog tick is so labeled because it loves to feed on domestic dogs, but will make a snack out of humans occasionally. As per Michigan government data, 76% of ticks in Michigan are American dog ticks. They are usually active from May and November.

American dog ticks are oval-shaped, large brown ticks with whitish to gray markings. These types of ticks in Michigan can easily crawl on pet fur, as well as human hair.

They are predominantly found in lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. They are commonly found in grassy fields, walkways, waste farm fields, hiking trails, and shrubland, rather than in forests.

Wood tick is generally not very harmful but is known for causing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia. When bitten, you will experience itching and rashes. This indicates that the tick is trying to cut through the skin and reach the blood vessels. This can take several hours. Removing a tick at this stage is pretty easy and safe.

The Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis)

Also known as blacklegged tick, this type of tick in Michigan has become a public health concern in the past few years. It is a vector for several deadly human pathogens such as the ones that cause Lyme disease, babesiosis, Powassan virus disease, anaplasmosis, and several other deer tick virus diseases.

Studies have found that the geographic range of this deer tick has increased in the past few years, which indicates that it is growing its reach rapidly.

The deer tick consists of 15% of the total tick population. These types of ticks in Michigan are much smaller in size than the dog tick. They have a brownish oval body with 8 black legs. Being small in size, their presence can often go unnoticed for days.

Blacklegged ticks are primarily found in lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. Woody and grassy areas and thin trails of forests with abundant small mammals, specifically white-tailed deer are its main habitat. Deer ticks received this particular label, as their main host is the white-tailed deer.

Lone Star Tick

As its name suggests, it has a distinctive lone star marking on its reddish-brown oval body. Although this type of ticks in Michigan consists of just 5% of the total tick population, it is far more aggressive and dangerous than the dog and deer ticks.

Its bite is painless, so, very often, it goes unnoticed for days. The lone star tick is well-known for attacking humans and large mammals, including pets, goats, cows, cats, sheep, dogs, and even poultry. If you must venture into an area infested with ticks, try arming yourself with an all-natural tick repellent.

Lone star ticks are usually found in the same areas where you will find the deer tick i.e. underbrush areas, woody and grassy areas, hedgerows, cane breaks, etc. It is also commonly found in vegetation near rivers and other water bodies.

It was earlier believed that this type of ticks in Michigan can cause Lyme disease, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has clarified that it does not carry the vector for Lyme disease. (3) However, the lone star tick is known for carrying pathogens that can cause rocky mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and ehrlichiosis.

The Woodchuck Tick (Ixodes cookie)

Out of all the types of ticks in Michigan, the woodchuck tick consists of 3% of the population.

They are commonly found on woodchucks and near the dens of skunks and in woody areas. Other than woodchuck, they also feed on foxes, raccoons, dogs, cats, porcupines, etc. They do bite pets and occasionally feed on human beings, too.

Woodchuck ticks are more of a nuisance, as they generally do not carry any pathogen but, in some cases, they can cause Powassan encephalitis, which is a potentially serious viral disease.

The Brown Dog Tick

These brown-colored ticks often prefer domestic dogs as their hosts, which is why they have gotten this name. These types of ticks in Michigan typically attach themselves to a dog’s ear or between its toes, so pet owners won’t be able to see them. This is how they can enter our homes.

They generally do not feed on human beings, but they will do so if they do not find their preferred host to feed upon. Although brown dog tick consists of just 1% of the tick population of Michigan, these parasites are known for causing rocky mountain spotted fever, canine babesiosis, and canine ehrlichiosis.

Brown dog ticks are generally found in areas with heavy vegetation such as tall grasses where dogs usually visit. They can be found in shrubs and landscaped areas as well. Once they have attached themselves to your pet, they can become very notorious.

The female tick can drop off its host and lay eggs inside your house in hard-to-reach areas such as door frames, window frames, cracks, crevices, etc. Within a few weeks, you could have a lot of them in your house, causing a nuisance. These are the only ticks in Michigan that can complete their full lifecycle indoors.

Ticks are pretty notorious and, very often, repeated treatments are required to get rid of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that you must not put faith in myths such as using petroleum jelly or heat to get rid of them from your (or pet’s) body.

Removing them from the host’s body and from your home requires a thorough approach. In our next blog, we will discuss how you can get rid of them safely. Keep reading our blog for more helpful information.

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