Commonly called the brown dog tick, this tick is the most common one found in Arizona. While the name suggests they are a tick found on dogs (and they are), they also feast on the blood of the humans and other animals. In fact, the brown dog tick is the only tick species that infects human and dog dwellings. When they’re in your home, they could be hiding almost anywhere.
Where to Find Brown Dog Ticks
Often referred to as an insect, the brown dog tick is actually an arachnid, related to spiders and mites. Found primarily in temperate climates like the southwest and western states, the brown dog tick can spend its entire lifetime inside your home. They sneak in on your dog, its preferred host, or through the tiniest of cracks in your home.
Identifying the Brown Dog Tick
Brown dog ticks are reddish-brown without any other distinguishable markings. If the adults haven’t eaten, they are about 1/8 of an inch long while blood-fed female ticks can be ½ and inch long with blue or gray coloring. Males are similar in coloring but are smaller.
Brown Dog Tick Lifecycle
Brown dog ticks can live their entire lifespan indoors mating, laying eggs, and developing through their four stages of egg, larvae, nymph, and adult. They are prolific laying as many as 4,000 eggs at a time and 4-legged larvae hatch from the eggs within two to five weeks, gaining another two legs during development for a total of eight.
Interesting fact: While most ticks lay eggs in plants or soil, brown dog ticks will lay eggs on any surface including cracks and crevices in your home and on your dog’s bed or kennel.
Brown dog ticks are especially troublesome because they are a three host tick. That means they drop off their host after each developmental stage. They need blood to grow into their next stage.
Because they move to different hosts, they are especially harmful to humans and their dogs. Ticks transfer blood and disease from host to host. Moving to different hosts at each stage means they can carry disease to many different hosts in a relatively short period of time. Diseases caused by brown dog ticks include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.