Common Name: Brown Dog Tick
Scientific Name: Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille)
This tick gets its common name from its overall reddish brown color and that is common on dogs. Although the brown dog tick is the species most commonly encountered indoors, it rarely attacks man. This tick is found throughout the United States and the world.
Unengorged adults are about 1/8″ (3 mm) long, but enlarge up to about ½” (12 mm) long when engorged with blood. Body flattened dorsoventrally (top to bottom). Reddish brown in color, but when engorged, engorged parts of body change to gray-blue or olive color. Male with tiny pits scattered over the back. Scutum (dorsal shield just behind mouthparts) present which covers male’s entire back but only front part of female’s back. Eyes on margin of scutum. Capitulum (mouthparts and their base) visible from above; basis capituli (base for mouthparts) laterally produced/anqular, not straight; 2nd segment of palpi about as long as wide. Abdominal festoons (rectangular areas divided by grooves along posterior margin) present; anal groove present, posterior to anus.
(1) American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and other Dermacentor species have sides of basis capituli (base for mouthparts) straight, not laterally produced/angular, although base may be angular laterally, and abdomen with 11 festoon (rectangular areas divided by grooves) along posterior margins. (2) Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) has 2nd segment of palpi twice as long as wide, female with pale markings near hind end of scutum (dorsal shield). (3) Cattle tick (Boophilus annulatus) lacks and groove and festoons. (4) Bird and rabbit ticks (Haemaphysalis spp.) lack eyes, anal groove behind anus, festoons present, 2nd segment of palpi laterally produced. (5) Ixodes spp. Lack eyes, have anal groove in front to anus, lack festoons. (6)Soft ticks (Argas, Ornithodoros, etc.) Lack a scutum (dorsal shield), capitulum (mouthparts and their base) ventral, not visible from above.
The engorged female drops off the host dog and seeks a sheltered spot in which to lay her mass of typically 1,000-3,000 tiny, dark brown eggs. Since she has a tendency to crawl upwards, eggs are often deposited in cracks and crevices near wall hangings, ceiling, or roofs. She dies afterwards and the eggs hatch in 19-60 days into minute, 6-legged larvae or seed ticks. They crawl down the walls and attach to a dog as soon as possible but can survive for 8 months without food or water. After engorging for 3-6 days, during which they become globular, blue, and about 1/16″ (2 mm) in diameter, they drop off and seek a sheltered place in which to molt. In 6-23 days they become 8-legged, reddish brown nymphs, which can survive for about 3 months without food or water. They again attach and engorge for 4-9 days, becoming oval, about 1-8″ (3 mm) wide, and dark gray. The nymphs then drop off, hide, and usually molt in 12-19 days into adults. Although the adults attach to a dog at the first opportunity, they can survive 18 months before attachment. Once attached, they engorge for 6-50 days, mate, and the females drop off to lay eggs and repeat the cycle. Under favourable conditions, the cycle can be completed in about 2 months but there are usually only 2 generations per year in the north and 4 in the south. Although they rarely attack humans, brown dog ticks can serve as vectors for Rocky Mountain spotted fever and several other disease organisms.
The brown dog tick does not do well outdoors in the woods in the United States. They prefer warm, dry conditions where dogs live. They do not travel far after engorgement and dropping off the host. They typically move upward, a behaviour which usually promotes host encounters. Brown dog ticks may attach themselves anywhere on a dog. The adults typically attach on the ears and between the toes, but the larvae (seed ticks) and nymphs typically attach on the back.
Tick control is a 4-step process. 1. Sanitation. The homeowner/occupant of the infested home and/or the owner/user of the infested kennel must thoroughly clean the home and/or kennel and remove all debris to remove/eliminate as many ticks as possible and facilitate pesticide application. Pet bedding and resting areas should receive careful attention. 2. The dog/pet must be treated, preferably by a veterinarian or grooming parlour, on the same day of treatment, either before or while the premises are being treated. 3. Indoor treatment by the pest control operator. Using an appropriately labelled pesticide as per label instructions, thoroughness will be the key to success. Apply the pesticide to areas frequented by the dog, paying particular attention to sleeping quarters and any resting places where ticks have probably dropped off. If the dog rests on overstuffed furniture, remove the cushions and treat the cracks and crevices. Because ticks hide in secluded places to molt, other critical areas include cracks and crevices around baseboards, door frames, window frames, floor and wall crevices, around wall molding and hangings, and under the edge of carpets. If the dog can get under porches or into crawl spaces, ticks may hide in the subflooring where liquids are difficult to apply, so dusts or aerosols are recommended. 4. Outdoor treatment by the pest control operator. Treatment should be made to grassy and bushy area adjacent to the home and/or kennel, the roadside, the edges of lawns and gardens, and along any footpaths/walks, as well as to any dog resting areas. Remember that ticks do not travel far from where they drop off their host. Wettable powder and micro encapsulated formulations are particularly effective.