Name: Dermacentor Spp.

Alias: Tick. If the name alone is enough to give you the heeby-jeebies, then you probably have some experience with this particular bug. Ticks are small, crablike, blood-sucking parasites that have no wings. They aren’t an insect at all, but are close cousins to spiders and mites. Their brown color helps them blend in, and they are often hard to spot until it is too late. They often stand on top of a reed or grass and hold their arms open like they are giving out free hugs. Once a person or animal passes by, they latch on and find the closest skin surface to feed. Males will die off in the winter, whereas females will overwinter and lay their eggs by the thousands next spring.

Crimes: As ticks feed on warm blooded animals they also spread diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Not only are they annoying, but they are also a public health hazard.

Redeeming qualities: None.

Sentence: Prevention is worth a pound of pesticide when trying to control ticks. The simple act of wearing long pants and proper shoes while hiking can go a long way. Any exposed skin should be treated with bug repellent labeled for tick control. Check your body and your pets for ticks regularly. If a tick is found, it must be removed. It can be removed simply by carefully pulling the tick strait out with tweezers or fingernails. Do not twist or rotate. Insure that you get the entire tick out and not leave the head or anything else embedded inside. Wash with soap and water.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-270-4031 or email jsagers@uidaho.edu.