Adult brown dog ticks are reddish-brown and lack any easily noticeable markings that are found on many other tick species. Adults that have not taken a blood meal are about 1/8-inch long. Blood-fed females are about a ½-inch long and have a blue-gray coloration. Males are smaller than females, but are colored very similarly.
The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineuls) is unique in its ability to complete the entire life cycle indoors. The brown dog tick is the species that is most often found in homes. As a result, brown dog tick populations can be found throughout the world, including areas with frigidly cold outdoor temperatures.
The life cycle of the brown dog tick is similar to that of other tick species in the family Ixodidae: beginning as eggs, they develop through larval and nymphal stages prior to maturing into adults. Brown dog ticks are three-host ticks, meaning that they drop off the host after the meal before each of their developmental stages. However, if necessary, a brown dog tick can remain with one host throughout its life. Unlike tick species that require plants or soil for egg laying, female brown dog ticks are capable of laying thousands of eggs on any surface available to them.
In homes, all areas frequented by house pets should be kept clean.
Brown dog ticks are often mistaken for deer ticks, which are known carriers of Lyme disease. However, brown dog ticks instead transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If there are medical concerns regarding a tick bite, consult a medical professional.
If a homeowner suspects a problem with brown dog ticks, the best thing to do is seek the advice and assistance of your pest management professional. Your pest management professional will provide a thorough inspection and prepare an integrated control plan based upon the findings. In general, an effective and efficient brown dog tick control plan includes:
- Using veterinarian-recommended tick treatment products on pets.
Frequently inspecting dogs or other pets and promptly eliminating any ticks that are found.
Using approved tick control products to target ticks that are either inside or outside the home.
Frequently cleaning and vacuuming the home’s interior to remove as many ticks as possible.