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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis


Posted by John Fulton -

The wacky weather has many unintended consequences. If you have an outdoor pet, you may have noticed an unusually early and large number of ticks are out and about. Anyone who has been out in tall grass or wooded areas can probably attest to that as well. Ticks are large, flattened mites that feed as parasites on mammals, birds and reptiles. They hatch from eggs into six-legged larvae that locate hosts and feed before dropping off the host and molting into eight-legged nymphs. Nymphs locate hosts, feed and drop off to molt into eight-legged adults. Adults also locate hosts on which to feed. Males may stay on the host, mating with females coming there to feed. Females engorge on blood to several times their original size, drop off the host and lay hundreds of eggs. With each tick having to find three hosts in its lifetime, many ticks starve before reproducing, although ticks can survive for long periods without food.

Also pay particular attention to pets in wooded areas, or areas with tall grass. Use preventative products when possible. Carbaryl dust may be used on pets and their sleeping areas help control ticks and fleas. Mosquito and tick repellents containing DEET can be used on clothing and body parts for people, but not pets. Permethrin can be used on clothing only, and not sprayed on the body. Be particularly careful of permethrin around cats and dogs, as it can be lethal.

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