Deer Ticks

Where They Live

Most hunters know deer ticks live in the same areas we like to hunt in. A deer tick likes the thick bushes and grasses in under kept fields as well as wooded areas with a lot of undergrowth. They like these areas because they are also home to small and large animals such as field mice, birds, rabbits, dogs and deer. Deer ticks will stay along the tips of grasses or a bush in the search for a host animal. When an animal or human brushes past the tick it will grab a hold of its new found friend and start searching for a place to attach itself. The tick will usually find itself on the lower portions of its host. Then if it desires it will crawl to another place of its satisfaction. Deer ticks only crawl. They are unable to fly or jump.

How Long They Live

The life cycle of a deer tick is about 1 to 3 years. In a deer ticks full life time they will go through three growing or feeding stages. As their egg grows they will hatch into what is called a larvae. Starting out, larvae carry no diseases. For their first meal larvae usually feed on birds or small mammals such as field mice. It is after this first feeding that they may become infected with a disease and be able to transmit it to their next host. When the weather becomes cold the larvae will become dormant until springtime.

In the second stage the larvae grows into what is called a nymph. During this second year the nymph will begin searching for a second host. The nymph will search for a second host for the majority of the summer months. If the deer tick is not infected it may still become so in this second feeding. The size of a nymph is so small you are more likely to feel it moving on your body than see it. It will be about the size of a small freckle. When the weather becomes cold the nymph will become dormant until springtime.

In the third stage the nymph grows into a full adult deer tick. In this stage a tick will try to feed on a larger mammal such as a deer or large dog. A female tick will mate and lay her eggs. The tick may stay attached and feed for up to five days. After this process is over the deer tick will die.

Lyme Disease

Only female deer ticks are able to transfer Lyme disease. Even though a male deer tick will attach to a mammal, it will not feed. The female will insert their mouth into the host animal to feed on blood. If that animal is infected with a disease it can be transferred to the tick. For a human to get Lyme disease from a tick it must be attached for 24-48 hours. Some symptoms of Lyme disease are: stiff neck, chills, fatigue, vomiting, dizziness, low grade fever, abdominal pain, joint pain, red rash on or around the tick bite, symptoms similarly to arthritis and acute headache due to a more serious nervous system malfunction. If you have a suspect tick bite to go along with the symptoms, seek a medical professional immediately. Lyme disease is a lot easier to deal with and get over when diagnosed in a timely manner.

How To Repel Ticks

In your yard around your home keep grasses and vegetation short. A maintained yard is not a primary area a deer tick will want to call home. In areas that have a high number a ticks you may want to treat them with an insecticide targeted at controlling ticks. When camping or staying in the woods for a considerable amount of time wear long sleeve shirts and long pants to further prevent a tick access to your skin. You may also want to tuck your pant legs into your boots for added protection. For additional protection you can use a repellent. Spray it on all parts of the clothing that may come in contact with high grass or brush.

How To Remove Ticks

When you are able to locate the tick, grab it as close to the skin as possible with a pair of tweezers. Then slowly but firmly pull the tick off. Next treat the tick bite with a germicidal agent. Do not kill the removed tick between your fingers. This method of killing a tick has been known to cause infection.

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Related Links
- View and share your own deer photos in our gallery.
- Share your own hunting tips and tricks with fellow hunters in our deer hunting forums
- Read our guide to field dressing a deer in our tips section.