Controlling Ticks In Minnesota

There are thirteen known species of ticks in Minnesota.  The majority of these species are known as hard ticks, because they have a relatively hard body and possess a plate-like shield, or scutum (fig. 1), behind the head.  Of these, three kinds are commonly encountered by humans:

1) American dog tick, also called wood tick
2) Blacklegged tick, formerly called deer tick, and
3) Brown dog tick

Occasionally, people may encounter soft ticks (fig. 2) which have a more leathery body and lack a scutum behind the head.  When looking at a soft tick from above, the head is typically hidden from view.  In homes, soft ticks are usually associated with bats.

Identification Of Ticks

Minnesota provides suitable habitat for several tick species.  Ticks can be very challenging to identify.  Color is sometimes helpful in distinguishing tick species but you can not rely on this in all situations.  While there are differences in size between ticks, size is also not a reliable method as there is much overlap between species, especially when immature and adult ticks are encountered.  Also remember that adult males are smaller compared to females.  Engorged ticks are particularly challenging to identify as their size and color are greatly altered.  You can distinguish between females and males in the adult stage as females possess a relatively small scutum while this plate-like structure in males covers most of their body (fig. 1).  If there is ever any doubt as to what species of tick you have encountered, contact an expert for identification.

Living in habitats of ticks can mean a higher chance of these pests.  If you live in this type of area, or are noticing an increase in the amount of ticks in your area, it is wise to contact a professional pest control expert.

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