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What Is A Dwarf Deer Tick?

July 12, 2017

small tick on blade of grass

In: Ticks

Over the past few years, states in the northeastern part of the United States have experienced much milder winters than we are normally used to. For the most part, the winters have seen much more rain than snow, and the temperatures have been well above average. This has led to a huge increase in the number of ticks found here, and not only during the months when they are normally around. Ticks have been active during November through February as well. The tick population explosion has also led to a significant increase in the number of people living in the Northeast that contract Lyme disease.

As a result, laboratories testing ticks for Lyme disease and other pathogens that ticks are known to carry have received thousands more ticks for testing than in an average year. Among those numbers, a tick less than half the size of the average 3 mm deer tick was discovered. Scientists were thrown at first by the similarity in attributes of this tiny tick in comparison to the deer tick. Further DNA testing later confirmed that this dwarf tick was, in fact, a pint-sized version of the deer tick. This discovery came in conjunction with many other ticks collected from the same region that are deformed in some way such as having extra legs, leaving scientist to wonder about the cause.

The ticks all come from the same areas initially. This led scientists to believe that the dwarf tick, as well as the other ticks found with deformities, could be a result of the climate change in the region where they were found. The warming temperatures and moisture changes of the last couple of years seem to be contributing to more than just the increased population of ticks. Another school of thought points to certain pesticides being used as the possible culprit. Neither suggestion is a concrete fact at this point, so the experts are still testing their various theories on the cause.

Another concern for scientists working on this project is the ability of these abnormal ticks to spread Lyme and other tick-borne disease to humans. Early studies have increased the concern that the altered ticks actually transmit disease agents easier than a normal tick does when feeding. This is a serious concern for both pets and people. The deer tick is already difficult to find when inspecting for ticks because of its size. The dwarf deer tick, only being 1.5 mm and as flat as a normal deer tick are exceedingly difficult to find if one is hiding in a pet’s coat or on a person’s clothing.

While scientists explore the implications of the dwarf deer tick to the human population, it is essential that people be on alert this summer for ticks, in general, all over the country. The rise of ticks and Lyme disease is a serious problem, especially in the Northeast. Make sure to treat pets with vet recommended products; wear sprays and repellents when hiking, gardening, and other outdoor activities; and consider calling the Good Guys at American Pest Solution to treat the perimeter of your property to reduce the number of active ticks and mosquitoes right where you spend most of your time.

tick control and prevention in the northeast   |   tick-borne diseases   |   tick and mosquito control

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