11 Commonly Asked Questions About Ticks in NC
Those of us from the South are no stranger to a tick. Southern pet owners especially know the pain of keeping up with your pet’s tick medications. Still, most of us don’t pay ticks any attention until it’s too late and there’s one on us!
Aside from knowing that ticks are basically vampires, there’s much more to learn about them. Understanding basic facts about ticks in NC, like how to identify them, is good for anyone who spends time outside to know.
In our opinion, fully understanding these little suckers is the easiest way to avoid them. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions we get asked about ticks to give you a better understanding of these pests.
Question 1: What is a Tick?
Ticks are arachnids, so they’re technically related to spiders and scorpions. That’s right, as if ticks couldn’t get any worse.
Question 2: What Does a Tick Look Like?
Although they’re similar to spiders, they look more like a round beetle. With their eight legs and oval-shaped body, you might think it’s just a random bug that’s landed on you. However, the legs are curved inward and unlike a spider, they’re much slower.
Ticks also come in a range of colors to blend with their natural surroundings, from black to brown to yellow and even red. The size of the tick can vary depending on their stage of life and if they’ve been feeding. Generally, they’re fairly small and stay under ⅛ of an inch in size.
Question 3: Do Ticks Bite?
Ticks aren’t like mosquitos where they land on you, quickly feed, and then are gone before you even notice they’re there. They can take several hours before feeding just to find the perfect spot on your body. What they’re looking for is an area of thin skin where they can easily penetrate one of your blood vessels. Since they also prefer warm and moist areas, it’s common for tick bites to happen near the armpits, groin, or areas covered in hair.
The actual tick “bite” isn’t a bite at all, but rather them attaching themselves to you. Ticks have a needle-like mouth that’s covered in multiple flat hooks, perfect for piercing through several layers of skin. Because they’re so small, you don’t usually feel the bite when it happens.
Question 4: How Long Does it Take For Tick Eggs to Hatch?
One of our most frequently asked questions is, “how long does it take for ticks eggs to hatch”? Truth be told, they take anywhere from 6 to 90 days to hatch!
Tick eggs look similar to fish eggs, but are much smaller in size. They’re usually brown-red or black in color and come in clusters of hundreds. You’ll find the ticks eggs hidden in small crevices of tree trunks, in tall brush, or nestled in your grass. If you find a tick’s nest in your yard, don’t hesitate to call a pest control expert to take care of it.
Question 5: What Types of Ticks in NC Are There?
Across the U.S. are several species of ticks, but the types most commonly found in NC are the Brown Dog tick, American Dog tick, Lone Star tick, and the Black-Legged (deer) tick.
Question 6: What Harm Can Ticks Cause?
Surprisingly, not all ticks in NC spread diseases. So you might be wondering why it’s so important to avoid them! The reason is, there’s no way of knowing if a tick is carrying a disease. Every time you get bit by a tick there’s a chance you’ll contract something, which is why it’s best to avoid them at all costs.
Listed below are six tickborne diseases that have been identified throughout the Southern region so far.
1. Lyme disease
Although more common out West, Lyme Disease has occurred in the Carolinas. A week or two after being infected you might notice a rash resembling a bullseye, which is one of the most obvious symptoms. Lyme Disease can also cause a fever and severe flu-like symptoms that make the disease hard to diagnose. The Black-Legged (deer) tick is the most common type to carry Lyme.
2. Bourbon virus
Bourbon virus is considered a new virus, with the first case dating back to 2014 when a man in Kentucky passed away from it. Along with the typical symptoms like rash and fever, some patients have also had low blood counts in cells that fight infection. The Lone Star tick is the only type to carry the virus.
This bacterial disease causes fever, headaches, chills, nausea, confusion, and red eyes in those who are infected. The Lone Star tick, Black-Legged (Deer) tick, and Brown Dog tick have been reported to transmit Ehrlichiosis.
4. Heartland virus
Another relatively new disease, Heartland virus was just discovered in 2009. The disease is usually transmitted by the Lone Star tick, but can also be spread by mosquitoes and sandflies.
5. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Despite its name, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be found all over North and South America. Unfortunately, this disease can be potentially fatal if not treated quickly. Typical symptoms are fever, rash, headache, nausea, abdominal and muscle pain, lack of appetite, and sometimes red eyes. Both the American and Brown Dog ticks carry RMSF.
6. Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness
Sometimes called STARI, this disease is usually spread through ticks from infected deers. It’s very common in Southern states, but lucky for us is rarely fatal. Mild symptoms can include rash, fever, and headache. The Lone Star tick is the only type that transmits STARI.
Question 7: How Does a Tick Get on Me?
Did you know, ticks go from host to host by simply catching a ride?
Since they can’t jump or fly, they wait until a warm-blooded animal walks close enough past and then they hitch a ride by extending out their front legs, similar to bed bugs. This generally happens when you (or your pet) walk through any type of tall vegetation that brushes against you.
Question 8: Where Do Ticks Live?
Ticks in NC tend to live in tall grasses, tall brush, shrubs, and wooded areas — basically anywhere with vegetation! They can also live in your lawn, especially if you leave your grass long which is why it’s important to maintain proper yard maintenance.
Question 9: How Can You Prevent a Tick Bite?
Now, just because ticks live anywhere there’s vegetation doesn’t mean you can never go outside again. However, if you know where they tend to hangout, you can be proactive and prevent a tick bite. If you’re walking outside, stick to the trail’s path and avoid wandering through thick brush. This is especially important for pets who walk off leash!
You can also prevent tick bites by using a tick repellent and reapplying it often. If you can manage the heat, you can also wear long socks, long sleeves, and pants to avoid direct contact with ticks. Most importantly, check yourself regularly to make sure a stowaway didn’t manage to land on you!
Question 10: How Do You Remove a Tick?
Their intricate mouths we explained earlier makes for a hard time getting ticks to let go.
It’s almost like trying to get a fish hook out of your hand — pulling will only make things worse! Pulling results in only the body of the tick coming off, leaving their head and mouth behind. This is bad news, because the head can still transmit disease.
Instead, properly remove the tick with the tried-and-true tweezer method. First, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the head and gently pull the tick out. Again, be careful not to detach the body! Once the tick is out, clean the bite area (and your tweezers) with rubbing alcohol.
Question 11: How Do You Dispose of a Tick After Removing it?
It’s a smart idea to keep the tick in case you experience symptoms later. To do this, place the tick in a sealed bag or container filled with rubbing alcohol and freeze it. Then, do your best to forget that there’s a bug in your freezer. If there’s no need to keep it — flush the tick down the toilet, just be sure to watch it disappear.
The Killingsworth Way of Dealing with Ticks
It’s one thing to go on a hike and hours later realize your dog has a tick, but to find a tick infestation at home? No thank you!
If you’re this unlucky, don’t panic. We’re proud to say we have a unique approach to getting rid of ticks in NC (and SC!). We’ve created a three step process — identification, treatment, and prevention — for eliminating pest infestations to ensure they’re no longer a problem for you.
We recommend reading our guide, Eliminating Pests and Wildlife The Killingsworth Way, to understand our process and know what to expect from our Pest Experts. Because we work around the philosophy of Integrated Pest Management, we never use chemicals or pesticides when not necessary. We are dedicated to putting you, your home, and the environment first. All the while efficiently removing whatever pest at hand!
This content was originally published in January 2011 and was refreshed in May 2020.