Ticks of South Florida

Ticks of South Florida

Whether you are a parent to a cuddly pup, a mischievous kitten, a slithery reptile, or a feathered friend it is also good to know what creepy crawlies you need to protect them from. In general, ticks seem less prevalent in Florida in comparison to our more northern neighbors, but they still are something pet owners need to be on the lookout for.

How do the ticks of South Florida attack our pets?

There are six species of ticks commonly seen in Florida and all six can affect your pets. Typically, the ticks of South Florida will infect a host during the spring and summer months while in their larval or nymph stages. This is possible because they are usually so small they can go unnoticed compared to the larger adults. During this time any diseases the tick may be carrying may be transferred to the host. 

Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis)

deer tick

The Black-Legged Tick, also known as the Deer Tick, is a main carrier of Lyme disease. Nymph and Larvae stages are more prevalent April to August and typically take up host in reptiles, birds, and some rodents. The adults are more abundant September through May, in which their primary hosts are often larger cattle and humans. They can also carry Babesiosis, which is a malaria-like parasitic disease that is beginning to emerge in the United States and parts of Europe.  Image from floridahealth.gov

Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)

lone star tick

In Florida, the Lone Star is the tick most likely to bite humans. The larvae are most abundant June to November, the nymphs February to October, and the adults April to August. Larvae and nymphs typically take host on small mammals and birds, while the adults can be found on deer, cattle, and humans. They will typically transmit ehrlichiosis, a bacterial illness that causes flu-like symptoms, or southern tick-associated rash illness.
Image from floridahealth.gov

Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)

brown dog tick

Unlike other tick species, the Brown Dog Tick can complete an entire lifecycle indoors, even in the northernmost states. It mainly feeds on dogs, but can be found on cats and other mammalians. Households can become infested if they are not taken care of properly. Pets can suffer with Babesiosis, a malaria-like parasitic disease, and Ehrlichiosis, a bacterial flu-like illness. This tick can easily be transferred from one host to another, so cats and dogs in the same home can easily be affected. Very rarely do these ticks affect humans.

 

American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

Unlike the Brown Dog Tick, the American Dog Tick cannot complete its life cycle indoors, so they do not lead to infestations. Larvae and Nymphs are abundant most of the year July to March, and they mainly take host on small rodents. The adults, prevalent March to September typically take host on a large variety of mammals, including dogs and humans. These ticks are known to cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can cause paralysis in dogs, cats, and children. A full recovery can be made if the tick is removed in time.
Image from floridahealth.gov

Gulf Coast Tick (Amblyomma maculatum

The Gulf Coast Tick is prevalent in the southeastern states. The larvae and nymphs are abundant February to August and the adults March to November. They are similar to the American Dog Tick in that they take up similar host species. They can cause a less severe form of Rocky Mountain Fever, Rickettsia parkeri.
Image from floridahealth.gov

Argasid Tick

The Argasid Tick, also known as “soft” ticks, are a common tick found in animal shelters, burrows, caves, or poor-quality living conditions. Adult females lay several clutches of eggs during their lifecycle. They are commonly known to transmit Ehrlichiosis, a bacterial flu-like illness, or southern tick-associated rash illness.
Image from floridahealth.gov

How to prevent ticks in your pets:

Check your pets frequently for ticks, bumps, lumps, and odd colors. By doing this you may not only prevent them from a tick-related disease but from something potentially more severe. If at anytime you notice your pet acting strange after being outdoors or you notice anything abnormal on their body, take them to a vet immediately.

The majority of symptoms pets will suffer from a tick related disease are flu-like symptoms that include a fever, aches and pains, vomiting, and a rash. Some diseases can be more severe, but that is not very common. The good news is that we can lessen our pets’ suffering by being alert and proactive pet owners.

Resources:

  1. Floridahealth.gov 
  2. Solutions for your Life

 

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