Deer ticks commonly carry Lyme disease

If you enjoy hunting or hiking, watch out for deer ticks this fall. New Jersey pest control professionals warn that deer tick populations are spreading throughout the Allegheny region, including New Jersey, posing a serious threat to hunters and fall hikers. These tiny parasites are known carriers of potentially-debilitating Lyme disease and have been particularly prolific lately due to warmer than normal fall temperatures.

Commonly called deer ticks, the black-legged tick is noticeably smaller than the more prevalent brown dog tick. Males are black, but females have a red abdomen with a black shield near the head; both have black legs. Black-legged ticks are about the size of a pencil point, swelling to sesame seed size when fully engorged with blood. These parasites feed on the blood of mammals, particularly deer, although they are also frequently found on cattle, horses, wildlife and dogs. Accidental hosts, humans who walk through tick-infested woodlands or grassy fields are convenient victims for these insects.

Unlike the more common dog tick, which goes into hiding from early fall through June, deer ticks are not intimidated by cool weather and will continue to hunt for prey on warm winter days and in the early spring. Hunters, hikers and leaf-peepers may bring home more than they bargained for if they run afoul of these Lyme disease-bearing insects.

Lyme disease is characterized by a bull’s-eye shaped rash that forms around the bite site between 3 and 30 days after the individual is bitten. If untreated, headache, fever, chills, fatigue and severe joint pain may develop. Because symptoms mimic the flu, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed, allowing the disease to progress to debilitating fatigue and chronic joint pain. Prompt removal of the tick and immediate medical treatment with antibiotics can prevent Lyme disease.

To prevent bringing these dangerous parasites into your New Jersey home, you should carefully inspect clothing, gear and your body after fall excursions in the outdoors. Contact ChemTec Pest Control today to learn more about these pests.