Ticks Commonly Encountered In California
Larisa Vredevoe, Ph.D, Department of Entomology, University
of California, Davis
Family Argasidae (Soft Ticks)
These ticks are common pests of chickens and turkeys, but generally do not cause serious problems except for small flocks on farms which provide wooden housing that encourages tick establishment. Eggs are laid in crevices in the wood. All stages of these ticks remain around the roosting area of poultry, hiding in crevices during the day and generally feeding at night. Ticks can survive in empty poultry housing for years. Argas sanchezi is a common tick of chickens, turkeys, and wild birds in California and other western states. In California it is primarily found in central valley dry climates from Shasta down to Kern county, as well as the dry coastal and inland southern California regions. Argas persicus infests chickens mostly in the eastern U.S., and only rarely has been collected in California in Nevada county (Furman and Loomis 1984).
Family Ixodidae (Hard Ticks)
Family Ixodidae (Hard Ticks)
Dermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast Tick)
The Pacific Coast Tick is a three host tick which commonly feeds on rodents, especially squirrels, as subadults, and on cattle, horses, deer, and humans as adults. This is one of the most widely distributed ticks in California. It is found throughout the state except for the very dry regions of the central valley and the southeastern desert region.The only other areas it has been collected in are Oregon and Baja, Mexico (Furman and Loomis 1984).
The Rocky Mountain wood tick is a three host tick which as a subadult primarily feeds on small rodents; as adults they focus on large mammals, especially deer, humans, canids, and livestock. This tick is well known as a vector of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever rickettsia in the northwestern U.S. and Canada, the Colorado tick fever virus, and the bacteria which causes tularemia (hunter's disease). It is also commonly responsible for tick paralysis in humans, livestock, and wild mammals (Furman and Loomis 1984). However, in California, this tick poses little threat to human and animal health because of its scanty distribution in less populated areas of the state. It has been collected primarily in the upper eastern part of the state, from Modoc county down to the eastern range of the northern Sierras.
The American dog tick is a three host tick that feeds on rodents and lagomorphs during its subadult life stages, and large mammals, frequently canids and humans, as adults. It is the most important vector of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever rickettsia in the eastern U.S. and is also able to transmit the bacteria which causes tularemia (hunter's disease). It has also been found responsible for tick paralysis in some states. This tick is widespread throughout the U.S. as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. In California, it is most frequently found along the coastal ranges down the length of the state, but has also been collected in the central valley and along the eastern Sierra range (Furman and Loomis 1984).
The Western black legged tick is a three host tick that
primarily feeds on lizards and small rodents during its subadult life stages,
and large mammals, commonly deer, canids, horses, and humans, as adults. It is
the putative vector of the Lyme disease spirochete and the equine granulocytic
ehrlichiosis rickettsia in California. This tick is found in the western U.S.
and British Columbia. In California, its distribution appears to be limited to
the moister regions of the coastal and Sierra foothill ranges all along the
state (Furman and Loomis 1984). Humans bitten by these ticks may notice intense
inflammation at the site of the bite which may be slow to heal. These sores do
not necessarily indicate pathogen transmission by the tick (ie: Lyme disease
"bulls eye" rash), but are frequently an artifact of irritation due to
tick salivary products injected into the bite site.
The brown dog tick, or kennel tick, is a three host tick that is an important pest of dogs in the U.S., especially those housed in kennels. It feeds on dogs during all three life stages, but drops off and reattaches during each stage. This tick is the only representative of its genus in the U.S.; its cosmopolitan distribution includes temperate to tropical regions. Outside the U.S., this tick commonly infests a variety of domestic and wild mammals besides dogs. Unlike most other hard ticks, eggs of this tick are laid inside or near housing areas of animals, in cracks and crevices, rather than outside, on the ground under vegetation. This tick is the putative vector of the canine ehrlichiosis rickettsia and the canine babesiosis protozoa in the U.S. as well as a variety of other rickettsia worldwide. In California, this tick has been collected almost exclusively from dog kennels scattered across the state; it is probably found in most parts of the state where dogs reside (Furman and Loomis 1984).
D.P. Furman and E.C. Loomis. 1984. The Ticks of California. University of California Publications, Bulletin of the California Insect Survey, Vol. 25. University of California Press, California.
D.E. Sonenshine. 1991. Biology of Ticks, Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, New York.
D.E. Sonenshine. 1993. Biology of Ticks, Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, New York.
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