About 1/4-inch in length.
Like all ticks, the American dog tick is a bloodsucking ectoparasite. It is often referred to as a wood tick because it is found in wooded areas where mammalian hosts such as deer, raccoons and opossums live. It lives near bodies of water where animals drink as well. Ticks require a blood meal at each stage of life in order to grow, and the female must engorge herself with blood to obtain the nourishment necessary to produce the thousands of eggs she lays. Despite the large number of eggs produced, only a small percentage will make it to maturity. Ticks do not embed their entire head into a host, only the mouthparts. To keep the blood from clotting, the tick will inject an anti-clogging agent. Bites from the American dog tick, along with other closely related species, can sometimes cause a severe reaction. Called tick bite paralysis, it only occurs in a relatively small number of people. These ticks also can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. Important Note: If you develop a reddish rash around the site of a tick bite, suffer arthritis-like pain in one or more joints, or have flu-like symptoms that come and go after recently being bitten by a tick, see your physician. The migrating, “bulls-eye” rash is a key symptom of Lyme Disease, and occurs in about 60 percent of people contracting the disease. The rash may not appear as the first symptom. Flu-like symptoms, fatigue, neck and head pain, and other symptoms may occur first or in lieu of the rash. Visit the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov for a full description of this disease.
American dog ticks inhabit most states east of the Rocky Mountains and some parts of a few western states, such as California, Idaho and Washington. They frequent wooded areas and fields and are more common around homes and buildings in secluded or rural areas. Unlike the brown dog tick, this species is rarely found living indoors. If inside, it will generally be discovered on dogs or cats.
Ticks are difficult to control, therefore the services of an experienced professional are recommended. Treatments may be necessary in areas of the yard where ticks are found. The best way to avoid tick bites is to stay away from tick-infested areas. However, if it is necessary, follow these tips when working or walking in areas potentially inhabited by ticks: