Search This Blog

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another hazard for tracking dogs

by Andy Bensing

As an avid outdoorsman I usually love learning and experiencing new things about nature but sometimes there is a limit.  A recent blood tracking expedition taught me something I really didn’t need to learn. 

Last Tuesday night after a very routine blood tracking call earlier that day in MD I found myself lying in bed in the dark scratching like crazy on my legs.  The itching and small bumps immediately brought the thought to mind that I had again gotten into some chiggers earlier in the day.  Actually, the itching and bumps were less than I had experienced in the past from chiggers so I was pretty happy about that.  I found out a day and a half later it wasn’t chiggers that I had gotten into but instead my dog Eibe and I had gotten into a nest of tick larvae!  Tick larvae are very, very small and I had not noticed them at first on myself or my dog but by Thursday morning they had been feeding on Eibe for a while and had blown up to a size that I could now easily see.  Commonly called “seed ticks” for their close resemblance to small seeds, Eibe was covered in them!  Without exaggeration I would estimate there were at least 1,000 or more engorged tick larvae all over her body!  Upon close examination I could even see the discarded exoskeletons from some of the larvae who had molted into the nymph stage.  The engorged ticks were so small that I wasn’t even sure what they were until I used a magnifying glass and could see their legs.  A quick call to my vet and a little internet research held the solution to the problem.  Unlike adult ticks and just like chiggers, these larvae don’t attach very securely when feeding.  That’s why I easily rubbed them off my legs unknowingly the first night and did not end up with any engorged ones on me.  All that was necessary to get them off Eibe was a simple flea and tick shampoo and a flea comb through her hair once dry. 

Except for the fact that I can’t stop itching from just the thought of all those creepy little critters all over my dog and some inevitably crawling around my house the whole thing ended pretty easily.  According to the research I have done, the likelihood of tick borne diseases being transmitted by the nymph stage appears low.  Now the only big question left is what will be my next dog disaster?

Engorged tick larvae on Eibe’s back and belly.
Shed larvae exoskeletons after molting to the nymph stage.
Engorged tick larvae on Eibe’s back and belly.
Just a few of the dead ticks collected from the drain after Eibe’s tick bath.

This chart shows the comparative size of the larvae, nymph, and adult tick.


Vince Crawford said...

Andy, did Eibe have a fresh run of any products like Frontline or the likes on her prior to getting these? Ticks are really hard on dogs and people here in MO for much of the year. My dogs get Frontline (I know some folks don't like it, and some dogs' skin doesn't tollerate it), and I get fairly routine shots of Permanone (active ingredient of Permathrin) on my pant legs.

Andy Bensing said...

Eibe didn't have any preventative on, nore did I. I used to very successfully use Preventic collars but they don't work anymore around here.. I have used Advantage II with moderate success but still end up with half engorged dead ticks on the dog. I am pretty sure Advantage would have worked perfectly on these young, soft larvae but I have been rolling the dice lately on preventative and wining up until now. I guess partial protection would be better than nothing. I HATE DEALING WITH TICKS!!!!!

Jo DuBose said...

We have a place in Tennessee and the tick larvae there have been horrible this year. Frontline seems to work for the dogs and I have found that using alcohol on a cotton ball works for getting them off of me. The alcohol seems to kill the larvae quickly and they will rub off without any trouble if embedded.
We also spray our pant legs, sock tops and around our waist bands before going out. At night everything goes in the washer and then the dryer as heat kills the larvae too.
Hope this helps ....

Teddy said...

Seed ticks are abundant this year in my part of Delaware so it's the first time I've used Frontline. It works for about three weeks then the seed ticks seem to ignore it. I re-apply it then.When I come in from hunting my clothes go in the washer...AND dryer as washing doesn't kill the ticks, just makes them clean. The dryer roasts them beautifully.

Teddy said...

Adding a postscript...squirrel season opened today and the young male squirrel I shot had many seed ticks. He went right into the freezer for awhile...the hawk can have it thawed, sans ticks.

Brady said...

This is a great year for ticks! We have a bumper crop. Dogs all get Frontline or similar, and all my clothes get a dose of permethrin prior to getting washed and descented. I have taken a couple of "bleach baths" this year when I forgot to take precautions. The water is usually muddied up with floating speckles. I HATE seed ticks!

Lindsjö taxar said...

We have ticks too in Sweden. I dont use any on them such as Frontline. Its a poison you put in your dog, I dont want that. We check them very carefully every day and take them when they just got them. Ok, sometime we missed one and they get some bigger.
I never seen like that on the Pictures before

Terry said...

Thank you for this post...I had just noticed my dog was full of black dots...Picked a bunch off then soaked her in epsom salts followed by a bath. Think we have them now...ugh. I hate ticks!!

At least I know what it is now.