Lone star ticks are abundant in the Eastern U.S. and in some parts of Mexico. The female has a distinctive white mark on her back. There are three active live stages of the Lone star tick; the larva, nymph and adult that all require a blood meal. Nymphs and adults are most active in the spring. Larvae are most abundant in the last summer: August through September. Larvae are small, about the size of a head of a pin but when engorged from a blood meal are much larger. Bites can result in very itchy red marks that can last for several weeks. The tick's saliva causes this response when injected at the bite site. Though Lone star tick's common hosts are wild animals and ground nesting birds, they will readily feed on humans.
Diseases The itchy, red bites are not the only concern when encountering the Lone star tick. Lone star ticks can transmit several serious diseases including:
Human ehrlichiosis caused by the bacterium Erlichia chaffiensis. The bacterium can be transmitted from infected white-tailed deer to humans and dogs through tick bites. Non-specific symptoms of erlichiosis, including fever, headache and/or muscle aches, can appear 5 to 10 days after the bite of an infected tick. Additional symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pain, confusion and occasionally a rash. However, many infected persons attribute mild symptoms to a "summer cold" and do not seek medical attention (ENTFACT-648: The Lone Star Tick in Kentucky).
Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) The causal agent of STARI is unknown. Some people develop a similar expanding "bulls eye" rash as seen with Lyme disease. The rash usually appears within 7 days and can expand to a diameter of 2 inches or greater. There also may be fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and a feeling of "being tired" (ENTFACT-648: The Lone Star Tick in Kentucky).
Red meat allergy Alpha-galactose is a sugar in the saliva of the lone star tick that is injected into the host as the tick feeds. Some victims of tick bites develop strong immune reactions to the sugar. Tick bite victims sensitized to the sugar can have acute allergic reactions within 3 to 6 hours after eating beef, pork, or other red meats (ENTFACT-648: The Lone Star Tick in Kentucky).
Keep away from wooded edge areas surrounding trails, yards, etc. Most ticks hang out in these areas waiting for a host to pass by. Use tick repellents and wear light-colored clothing to make inspection for ticks a bit easier. Check yourself and pets for ticks soon after coming in from the outdoors. Keep edge areas of yards mowed short (3 inches) so they are less conducive to ticks.
Scion® Insecticide with UVX™ Technology has shown to effectively control Lone star ticks at a rate of 0.65 fl. oz. per 1,000 sq ft. Treatment of edge areas where ticks are residing is recommended.