Tick Season Arrives in Arlington and Alexandria



Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA 22206

Telephone 703-228-6400


Contact:  Kirsten Buhls, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent, (kbuhls@vt.edu)

Tick season arrived a little later this year, but not by much. Last week volunteers at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Horticulture Help Desk at Fairlington Community Center identified several ticks found by residents of Arlington and Alexandria, both in the adult and larval stage. All were dog ticks.

From left: Dog tick, lone star tick, deer or black-legged tick, and deer tick nymph.  (Not actual size) (Photo: http://labs.russell.wisc.edu/wisconsin-ticks/tick-identification-for-public-health-and-medical-professionals/)

From left: Dog tick, lone star tick, deer or black-legged tick, and deer tick nymph. (Not actual size) Photo: http://labs.russell.wisc.edu/wisconsin-ticks/tick-identification-for-public-health-and-medical-professionals/

Of approximately 80 species of ticks in North America, four are common to Virginia: the lone star tick, the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, and the deer tick, also called the black-legged tick.  Both the lone star tick and the American dog tick are potential carriers of Rocky Mountain Spotted  Fever, and the lone star tick has been implicated in the transmission of ehrlichiosis. The deer tick is a potential carrier of Lyme disease.

Ticks at all stages of the life cycle can cause problems for people who are bitten by them. Anyone who suspects a tick-transmitted disease should consult with a physician.

All adult ticks have eight legs, but only six legs as newly hatched larvae. They differ in coloring, size, and shape of the body and mouthparts and in orientation of the anal groove. VCE Master Gardener volunteers at the Fairlington Help Desk can help identify ticks as well as other insects.  The Help Desk is staffed  from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St. Arlington VA 22208.  It can be reached by email at mgarlalex@gmail.com and by phone at 703 228 6414.

Ticks are best removed with tweezers or by wrapping the tick in tissue paper and pulling out with fingers. Pull slowly to avoid leaving the mouthparts in the wound; do not twist or jerk.  Do not use nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol, or hot matches to remove the tick. Wash the wound with an antiseptic after the tick is removed. Kill the tick in rubbing alcohol and keep it in a small vial for a few months in case any disease symptoms develop.

The Virginia Department of Health also recommends the following methods of prevention:

  • Avoid tick infested areas such as tall grass and dense vegetation.
  • Walk in the center of trails and avoid brushing against weeds and tall grass.
  • Keep grass and underbrush cut and thinned.
  • Wear light colored clothing so ticks can be found easily.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks so ticks stay on the outside of pants.
  • Conduct tick checks on children and pets every four hours.
  • Use tick repellents that contain at least 30 percent DEET.
  • While the VDH also recommends the “keeping pets outside from April to September to help keep ticks out of the house,” both dogs and cats should be checked often before entering a home to ensure that they don’t carry ticks inside.  Safe and effective tick control for pets is available.
  • Ask your veterinarian to recommend tick controls for your pets.
  • Treat your lawn with an approved pesticide for tick control.

For more information, see the Virginia Cooperative Extension publication, Common Ticks of Virginia, at http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2906/2906-1396/2906-1396.html.

Virginia Cooperative Extension http://www.ext.vt.edu is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. VCE programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.

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