Lone Star Seed Ticks Can Cause Some Miserable Days

Tiny lone star tick larvae (also called seed ticks and turkey mites) will be active over the next few weeks (Figure 1). Reaction to their bites cause painful itching that can last for 7 to 20 days. Dressing appropriately, using repellents, and checking regularly for ticks are important actions to take to reduce the chances for ticks attaching and feeding on you during the remainder of the tick season.

Ticks seeking blood meals work from the ground up. They will climb on vegetation and wait for a passing host, so most are picked up on the lower legs. Anyone unfortunate enough to walk through or stand in an area where a mass of lone star tick eggs has hatched may find themselves covered with hundreds of the tiny parasites.

Figure 1. Six-legged lone star tick larvae are less than 1/20 inch long (Photo: Lee Townsend, UK).

Figure 1. Six-legged lone star tick larvae are less than 1/20 inch long (Photo: Lee Townsend, UK).

Figure 2. Socks held lone star tick larvae against the wearer’s skin, helping the ticks to attach (Photo: Lee Townsend, UK).

Figure 2. Socks held lone star tick larvae against the wearer’s skin, helping the ticks to attach (Photo: Lee Townsend, UK).

Protecting Yourself from Ticks

  • Have a clothing barrier: wear long pants and tuck the bottoms into socks. This helps to keep ticks on the outer surface of your clothing and off of your skin. Wear light colors to make them more visible.
  • Clothing sprays (Figure 3)containing permethrin (for example Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent for Clothing & Gear and Permanone) can be used when in areas where ticks are known to be abundant or if the risk is unknown. These products are not for application to skin.
  • Deet-based repellents with a concentration of at least 20% can provide good protection.
  • Picaridin and botanical or herbal repellents are unlikely to provide much protection against ticks.
  • Check yourself thoroughly for ticks and carefully remove them (Figure 4). This is difficult to do with the small “seed ticks.” which also are called turkey mites.
Figure 3. Applying permethrin repellent (Photo: http://www.tickencounter.com)

Figure 3. Applying permethrin repellent (Photo: http://www.tickencounter.com)

Figure 4. A “handful of trouble.” Some duct tape is a quick way to blot up “seed ticks” before they reach less visible destinations. (Photo: L. Minter)

Figure 4. A “handful of trouble.” Some duct tape is a quick way to blot up “seed ticks” before they reach less visible destinations. (Photo: L. Minter)

 

By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist

 

Posted in Human Pests