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American Dog TickAmerican Dog Tick

Order: Acari
Family: Ixodidae
Scientific Name: Dermacentor variabilis (Say).
Color: Brown with whitish to grayish markings
Legs: Eight
Shape: Oval, flattened top to bottom
Size: 3/16-5/8 long, 3/8 wide
Antennae: No
Flight: No

This tick's name comes from the fact that it is only found in North America and that domestic dogs are their favorite host. It readily attacks humans.

Adult ticks crawl up on grass or other low vegetation and wait for a host to pass. Waiving their legs, they cling to a host on contact and feed. Unfed adults can survive for about 2-3 years. One female may lay 4000-6500 eggs in a month. Larvae can survive up to 540 days unfed.

Found only in North America and throughout the United States, except for the Rocky Mountains.

It vectors the causal organisms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia and also causes tick paralysis.

Control includes personal protection, keeping trouser legs tucked into socks or boots, shirts tucked in and clothes buttoned. Avoid sitting on logs, stumps or the ground. Periodically inspect clothing and body for ticks. Keep grass and weeds cut low. Trim back vegetation along trails, paths and yard edges. Reduce or eliminate hosts such as rodents in the area. Appropriately labeled pesticides may be advisable, especially along areas frequented by pets and humans.

(Source: National Pest Management Association, et. al.)