Guide to Ticks and Mites
Blacklegged (Deer) Ticks
Description: The blacklegged tick is named for its dark legs, which are a contrast to its pale body. Blacklegged ticks are sometimes called deer ticks.
Color: Dark brown to black body
Shape: Flat, Oval
Size: 1/ 8"
Habits: These ticks like to feed on the blood of white-tailed deer, which is why they are sometimes called deer ticks.
Habitat: Blacklegged ticks prefer to hide in grass and shrubs.
Threats: Blacklegged (deer) ticks can spread Lyme Disease.
Prevention: When in an area where ticks are common, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light colored so ticks will be easy to detect. Tuck pants into socks. Use a tick repellent. When you return indoors, inspect clothing and skin thoroughly for ticks, including head. Wash clothes immediately.
House Dust Mites
Description: House dust mites have received much attention in the early 1990s and again recently. The house dust mite is nearly impossible to see without magnification and is named for the fact that they feed on dead skin shed by humans as well as other protein materials.
Color: White - Tan
Habits: House dust mites feed on dander (dead skin which is shed) from humans and animals. They may also feed on protein based foodstuffs, preferring dried products over products with moisture. Females lay up to 80 eggs and there are several stages of immatures. Populations can explode during humid months as mites are excellent at absorbing moisture from the air.
Habitat: The most common area for finding mites is in the bed due to abundance of dander. House dust mites may also be found in living areas especially carpet, furniture, and clothing. Several home test kits are available to test for dust mites.
Threats: People may be allergic to house dust mite cast skins and droppings. These reactions will not be a rash type of reaction but rather a respiratory constriction, a common symptom of asthma. Itchy, watery eyes may also be symptoms. Approximately 50-80% of asthmatics may have symptoms due to house dust mites.
Prevention: Frequently change bed linens. Use mattress encasement with a cover tested for house dust mites. Vacuum areas frequently using a HEPA filter vacuum. Keep humidity low when possible; heating or freezing infested fabric. A professional pest management firm can inspect and identify mites in living areas and provide further guidance on control. There are very few products available for the control of house dust mites.