Ticks in North Carolina pose a significant threat to residents and their pets, particularly in the Raleigh area. These tiny, blood-sucking parasites can transmit serious diseases to humans and animals. Understanding the types of ticks in the region, recognizing their potential dangers, and knowing how to prevent tick bites are crucial steps in safeguarding your health and the health of your loved ones. This comprehensive guide from the pest control experts at Stomp Pest Control explores 5 common ticks in North Carolina and practical prevention tips.

5 Common Ticks in North Carolina 

Ticks in North Carolina undergo several growth stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Each stage requires a blood meal to progress to the next, with larvae and nymphs feeding on small mammals or birds, while adults often target larger hosts, including humans and pets.

Understanding these stages is crucial for effective prevention and control. The following is a list of common ticks that you may encounter in North Carolina. By knowing their appearance and habitats, you can be better prepared to spot and remove them quickly.

1. Backlegged Tick (Ixodes scapularis)

Other Names: Deer Tick

Appearance: Small, with a reddish-orange body and darker black legs. Nymphs are roughly the size of a poppy seed, making them difficult to see, while adults are about the size of a sesame seed. The adult female has a distinctive dark brown dorsal shield.

Health Risks: Lyme Disease

Habitat: Wooded, grassy areas

Activity Peak: Cooler months

2. American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

Other Names: Wood Tick

Appearance: Larger than many other ticks, with a brown body adorned with white or yellow markings on the scutum (the shield-like structure on their backs). Adults are about the size of a watermelon seed. The male has fine, silver lines on the back. The American dog tick is perhaps one of the most common ticks in North Carolina you’re bound to encounter.

Health Risks: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia

Habitat: Grassy fields, areas with little tree cover

Activity Peak: Spring and summer

3. Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)

Appearance: Medium-sized, reddish-brown with a distinctive white dot or “lone star” on the back of adult females. Nymphs and larvae are smaller and lack the white dot. They are aggressive biters.

Health Risks: Ehrlichiosis, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)

Habitat: Wooded areas, along animal paths

Activity Peak: Late spring through early fall

4. Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)

Other Names: Kennel Tick

Appearance: Reddish-brown and elongated, it is unique for its ability to thrive indoors. Adults are about the size of a grape seed. They have an oval shape and are slightly flattened.

Health Risks: Ehrlichiosis, other canine diseases

Habitat: Indoors, kennels, homes

Activity Peak: Year-round indoors

5. Gulf Coast Tick (Amblyomma maculatum)

Appearance: Medium to large, with a pale brown body and distinctive silver or white markings on its back. Adults are similar in size to the Lone Star Tick and have long mouthparts.

Health Risks: Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis

Habitat: Grassy areas, coastal regions

Activity Peak: Late spring through summer

Health Risks Associated with Ticks in North Carolina

1. Lyme Disease

Transmitting Tick: Backlegged Tick (Deer Tick)

Symptoms: Fever, headaches, fatigue, characteristic skin rash

2. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Transmitting Tick: American Dog Tick

Symptoms: Fever, rash, severe complications if untreated

3. Ehrlichiosis

Transmitting Tick: Lone Star Tick, Brown Dog Tick

Symptoms: Flu-like symptoms, potential organ damage in severe cases

4. Tularemia (Rabbit Fever)

Transmitting Tick: American Dog Tick

Symptoms: Fever, skin ulcers, swollen glands

5. Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis

Transmitting Tick: Gulf Coast Tick

Symptoms: Symptoms similar to other spotted fevers

Preventing Tick Bites

Ticks in North Carolina pose a threat to humans and animals. The CDC recommends these methods for tick prevention:

Avoid Tick-Infested Areas

Ticks are commonly found in wooded, bushy, and grassy areas. Avoid these areas when possible, especially during peak tick season. However, ticks in North Carolina may live in your yard! Be on the lookout for ticks on your children, pets, and yourself, especially in the summer months.

Use Insect Repellent

Use insect repellents on your exposed skin and clothing. Choose repellents that contain 20-30% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. 

Wear Protective Clothing

Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks when venturing into tick-prone areas. Light-colored clothing can help you spot ticks, and permethrin-treated clothing can also be effective. However, clothing alone won’t prevent ticks from crawling on you or your pets. Be sure to give your body a quick lookover before coming indoors.

Perform Regular Tick Checks

When coming back indoors, thoroughly check your body and pets for ticks. Pay extra attention to areas such as the scalp, armpits, groin, and behind the ears. 

Shower Soon After Being Outdoors

Showering within two hours of being outdoors helps to remove unattached ticks and reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases. 

Keep Your Yard Tick Free

To make your yard less attractive to ticks, keep your grass short, remove leaf litter, and create a wood chip or gravel barrier between your lawn and wooded areas. Pest control treatment services can also be very effective. 

What to Do If You Find a Tick on Your Skin

If you find a tick attached to your skin, removing it as soon as possible is essential. Follow these steps for safe removal: 

  1. Use Fine-Tipped Tweezers: Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. 
  2. Pull upward with Steady Pressure: Avoid twisting or jerking the tick, as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. 
  3. Clean the Area: After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. 
  4. Dispose of the Tick: Place the tick in alcohol, seal it in a bag, or flush it down the toilet. 

Monitor the bite area for signs of infection or rash, and seek medical attention if you develop symptoms of a tick-borne illness.

Seeking Professional Help 

If you’re unsure about how to remove a tick safely or if you’re concerned about potential tick-borne illnesses, don’t hesitate to seek professional medical advice. Healthcare providers can offer guidance on proper tick removal techniques and provide appropriate treatment if needed.

Contact Stomp Pest Control to Control Ticks in Your Yard

If you’ve seen signs of ticks in your yard or on your pets, it’s time to call Stomp Pest Control. Our pest technicians can eradicate ticks and make it difficult for them to return. We serve several cities in the Triangle including Raleigh, Garner, Wake Forest, Durham, and more

Contact us at (919) 231-3292 or fill out the form below to learn more about our tick control services.

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