Where Do Ticks Live?

Where Do Ticks Live?


Ticks are small parasitic organisms that live in fields and wooded areas.

Deer tick on a stalk of grass.

Ticks are small parasitic organisms that live in the fields, wooded areas, on animals, and any other place where they may encounter food. They depend on blood from hosts who can be either animals or humans to survive. The life cycle of ticks is about three years. They are resilient arachnids that can survive in extreme temperatures. They can also survive for a long time without food; some species of ticks can even last for more than a year without blood. Ticks transmit diseases including Lyme disease, tularemia, rocky mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and tick-related relapsing fever.

Ticks Could Be Outside Your Door

Tick populations are higher in grassy and wooded environments where they feed on roaming and crawling animals including lizards, deer, mice, squirrels, birds, and rabbit. They can also be found in urban areas and coastal regions. Ticks survive in humid and moist environments which is closer to the grounds such as falling branches, logs, grassy area, and tall brush. Ticks in the early stages of larvae and nymphs prefer living under trees and decomposing leaves. These inviting conditions and not limited to the remote wilderness can also be found in picnic areas, parks, and in your backyard. When looking for tick habitat in your environment, you should be keen on woodpiles, stones, piles of leaves and litter, overgrown shrubs, pets, and animal feeders.

Ticks Inside Homes

Most ticks prefer outdoor environments, but some species live and thrive indoors. The brown dog tick prefers indoors and can cause a high infestation in dog kennels, homes, and other structures with dogs. Soft ticks also prefer indoors, especially in rustic cabins where they are spread by mice and other rodents. Ticks feed on the blood of the pets and people while they sleep and lay eggs in concealed areas allowing the species to spread. An outdoor tick can find its way to your home by attaching itself to your pet, especially dogs and cats that spend their time outdoors. Once they are done feeding, they fall off and crawl in search of another host or a way out.

Ticks Are Active Year Round

Some species of tick prefer warm weather and are active during summer and spring. Others are more resilient to extreme temperature and remain active all year round. Deer ticks, also known as adult blacklegged ticks, are active from fall to spring. The population of these ticks begins growing in early October and remain active throughout the winter on condition that the temperature remains above the freezing point and the ground is not covered by snow.

Ticks Prefer That You Come To Them

Ticks prefer a passive approach known as “questing.” They attach themselves to the top of a branch, bush, or grass blade and wait. When a potential host passes by, the tick crawls and attaches itself to the host. They use their legs to navigate through the body. Ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide which is a gas emitted by all mammals when they breathe. When a potential host moves closer but does not make contact, the tick crawls closer to the source of the gas and attaches itself.

About the Author

Victor Kiprop is a writer from Kenya. When he’s not writing he spends time watching soccer and documentaries, visiting friends, or working in the farm.


How to Keep Ticks Out of Your Yard

Did you know tick-borne diseases have more than tripled in the last 12 years ? Each year, there are more Lyme cases than the year before! Eek! Because of that, we need to be more careful than ever.

Of course, that means you should use a repellent spray or repellent — treated clothing when you’re out in the woods. But you should do you r b est to minimize the population around your home , too .

That’s where you spend the most time outdoors, so make sure you do all you can to keep the nasty buggers away!

Ticks 101: When They’re Most Active, Where They Live and How to Get Rid of Them

Is there a worst time of day for ticks?

As long as it isn’t freezing, they can be out and about. Some are more active in the morning, others at dusk. But if you’re around, chances are they are, too. They’re always looking for their next host, no matter the time of day.

When are ticks active, and when do they die off?

They’re most active in the spring and at the beginning of fall. Immature ticks emerge in late spring and early summer. At this stage, they’re only the size of a poppy seed, which makes them easy to miss. Plus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say most humans are infected through bites at this stage.

Also, get this. Contrary to what you may have heard, frost actually doesn’t kill ticks, but it does make them less active.

Where do ticks live outside? Do they live in pine trees?

They love hanging on high grass and shrubs more than anything! In our lawns and gardens, they gravitate towards the edges of stone walls or shady, moist spots on the ground, like shrubs or bushes.

They usually don’t live in trees. Though, it is possible that they could hitch a ride up a tall tree on a bird. Mostly though, they lay low and will almost never be higher than chest level.

Steps to Keep Ticks Out of Your Yard

“Remember: no natural, vegetated area can be considered free of ticks,” said Auxilio Tovar of The Care of Trees, a Davey company, in Chicago. «Instead, the goal is to give these pests fewer places to hide.»

Tovar shares a few ways to do that!

  1. Take away the places they love. They prefer damp, humid areas and are extremely susceptible to dehydration. So, have an ISA certified arborist® prune your trees and shrubs. When done correctly, this reduces your property’s humidity by improving light and air circulation.
  2. Add a border. Ticks do not like to cross barren, sunny areas. So, place a mulch border that’s four to six feet wide around your property’s perimeter.
  3. Clean it up! Get rid of brush piles or areas with lots of green debris. If you see any other overgrown areas of your garden, cut those back as well. Also, keep firewood stacks at perimeter locations.
  4. Deter deer. Add a physical barrier, like a fence if practical, to keep deer and other hosts out of your yard. Deer repellant spray may also be applied onto plantings around your home but cannot be totally relied upon to keep deer away.
  5. Keep birds far away. Birds, too, can carry ‘em. It’s smart to move bird feeders and bird baths away from areas where you and your family congregate in the yard.
  6. Treat your yard. Just like you spray yourself, you can do the same to your yard. At Davey, we apply an EPA-registered treatment to the ground level of your yard, which covers all the spots ticks or hosts would gravitate.


5 Places Ticks Live in Your Yard & What to Do About It

It’s May and the weather up north is finally getting warm. It’s also the time of year when immature deer ticks start to feed, and they can infect people and pets with harmful diseases such as Lyme. These nymphal ticks are tiny – just the size of a poppy seed so it can be hard to spot them.

Most people get Lyme disease within 100 yards of their house in areas with woods or tall grass. Protect you and your family from ticks in your yard. Here, we share five backyard areas where people commonly encounter ticks and what you can do to stay safe in these places.

1) The Play Structure

“People put the jungle gym near the woods so it’s in the shade and away from the lawn mower,” says Bob Maurais, owner of Mainely Ticks, a pest spray company located in southern Maine. But having it close to the woods means you are in tick habitat, warns Maurais. “Move the play structure into direct sunlight at least 10 feet away from the edge of the woods or brush.” Deer ticks can’t survive the heat so they are rarely found in the middle of the lawn. For backyard protection Maurais recommends using a professional to spray the yard and applying Thermacell Tick Control Tubes in areas where sprays can’t reach.

2) The Treehouse

A treehouse by definition is usually in a tree and often in the woods. Recognize that it may be in or near prime tick habitat. If your treehouse is on the edge of the woods, you could use a pest spray to control ticks in your yard. If the treehouse is in the woods, have your kids wear permethrin treated clothing from companies like Insect Shield before going to play. You can also spray their skin with repellent such as DEET, which won’t kill ticks, but will help repel them. (Photo credit: LLoyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

3) The Dog Run

You don’t want your dog to get too hot, so you have his dog run in the shade. But if it’s in an area with woods and leaf litter, it’s in prime tick habitat. Move your dog out of this kind of environment and protect him with regular use of a topical or systemic tick prevention product.

Veterinarian Dr. Shawna Li of Norton Animal Hospital recommends the topical product K9 Advantix. She also suggests the Seresto collar because it is good for up to eight months or the monthly use of the oral product, Nextgard. “The key,” says Li, “is to use these products all year round. Even a small area of vegetation outside that reaches 45 degrees in the winter can see the emergence of ticks. There is no safe time to stop use of a preventative, especially in New England.”

4) The Driveway

The driveway isn’t tick habitat, but if your kids play basketball or other ball games there, pay attention to the environment that surrounds it. What happens when the ball goes out of the court? If it goes into the woods, resist the temptation to go get it in shorts and t-shirt. Use a rake to reclaim the ball or leave it there and come back later in long pants, a long-sleeve shirt and boots, preferably treated with permethrin. Sawyer sells a permethrin spray that allows you to treat your own clothing.

5) Spring Cleaning

Protecting yourself from ticks takes some planning and is an important part of spring yard prep, but it doesn’t have to be hard to do. If you are looking for some easy options, tick expert Tom Mather, director of the TickEncounter Resource Center, recommends “spraying your shoes with permethrin, wearing permethrin-treated clothing, keeping an effective quick-tick-knockdown preventer on your pet, and putting tick control tubes in your yard. These are easy to do, each can be done in minutes, and they don’t require set-up or clean up.»





Ticks of the northeast

There are several species of tick in the Northeast that are important to human and animal health. We have highlighted the major species in our region that can transmit diseases to humans, like Lyme disease, or are invasive to the region. If you’re interested in learning more about specific tick-borne disease issues make sure to visit our applied research page!

Explore the following resources to identify, prevent, control, and report ticks in and around your life. If you have questions or need additional assistance please feel free to contact us.

Tick Bite Prevention

While it makes sense to take preventative measures against exposure to ticks all year long, it is important to pay extra attention during warm months when ticks are most active. Explore our featured strategies and guidance below on how to protect your home and family from exposure.

Full Body Tick Check Guide

Need help learning how to do a proper tick check? Visit the websites below for great tips and how-to guides!

EPA Registered Tick Insect Repellents

  • Using certain EPA-registered insect repellents can be an effective way to prevent ticks from biting you. Always read and follow the label instructions when applying insect repellent! The EPA has an online tool that can help you find the insect repellent that is best for you. Access the tool here!
  • NEVBD has also developed a brief guide to insect repellents, explaining how they work, when you should think about using one, and busting some common myths about insect repellents that you might have heard. Check out the Insect Repellent Guide here!

Protective Clothing Best-Practices

  • Wear light-colored clothing that covers your arms, legs, and feet. You can also tuck the legs of your pants into your socks to keep ticks from crawling under your clothes.
  • You can also treat your clothing with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Permethrin should never be used directly on skin!
    • Learn more about using permethrin on your clothes by visiting TickEncounter.org or New York State Integrated Pest Management Don’t Get Ticked, NY

Additional Resources:

Watch this great video from our partners at the New York State Department of Health for recommendations on using protective clothing and insect repellents:

You can also find more information and resources on preventing tick bites by visiting the CDC website.

Keeping Ticks Out of Your House

Pay attention to things that can bring ticks into your home:

  • Check your pets for ticks regularly if they spend time outside. Pets can pick up questing ticks outdoors and bring them inside on their fur. These ticks can drop off and bite you or someone else in your home. Ask your veterinarian about using a tick preventative product on your pet, and visit the CDC website for information on preventing ticks on your pets to learn about safely using tick control products on cats and dogs
  • Check your clothing and gear after returning from the outdoors, even parks! Ticks can catch a ride on your clothes, backpack, boots, or other gear and end up on you later.
  • Tip: You can put your clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10-20 minutes after returning from outdoor activity. The heat will kill any ticks crawling on your clothes.

How to Reduce Your Tick Habitat

Manage your property to reduce tick habitat:

  • Remove dead leaves and clear tall grasses and brush from around your home and at the edge of your lawn.
  • Create a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn and wooded areas. This helps keep ticks from wandering into your yard.
  • Mow the lawn frequently.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area to discourage rodents that can carry ticks, like mice and chipmunks. You can also use fences to keep unwanted animals carrying ticks, like deer, from entering your yard.
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.

Additional Resources:

Learn more great tips for keeping your yard safe from ticks in the Tick Management Handbook from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station or visit New York State Integrated Pest Management Don’t Get Ticked, NY

Tick identification

Northeast Tick Identification Services

The following services are the most commonly used throughout the Northeast of the United States. If you need additional assistance please check with your local county cooperative extension offices and/or mosquito control agencies. Many of these local offices will provide tick identification services.


Know Before You Go: Tick Habitats and Human Contact

Despite the prevalence of human encounters with ticks, most people don’t really know very much about where ticks typically reside or how they come into contact with humans, pets, and other prey.

Knowing some basic information—about the kinds of environments in which ticks live, when they’re active, and what they typically hunt for and how they attach to hosts—can help you determine how best to limit your exposure to ticks and avoid encounters when you venture out into common tick territories.

Tick habitat could be right outside your door

Generally, tick populations tend to be higher in elevation, in wooded and grassy areas where the creatures they feed on live and roam, including deer, rabbits, birds, lizards, squirrels, mice, and other rodents. However, they can also be found in urban areas as well as on beaches in coastal areas. They also like moist and humid environments, which tend to be closer to the ground—such as among logs, fallen branches, tall brush, and grassy areas. Ticks in the early lifecycle stages—larvae and nymphs—are often found in piles of decomposing leaves under trees.

Not only do these inviting conditions exist in remote wilderness they can be found in parks, fields, picnic areas, and residential areas including your backyard. The following are a few common areas to keep a close eye out for ticks:

  • Wood piles, which can often harbor mice and other rodents
  • High grassy areas
  • Wooded areas
  • Stone walls and other features that may retain moisture
  • Leaf piles and litter
  • Fallen and low-hanging branches
  • Overgrown shrubs
  • Bird feeders (because they can invite other tick-attracting wildlife)
Some ticks prefer to set up house inside homes

Although most ticks prefer the great outdoors, certain species can live and thrive indoors. The brown dog tick, for example, can cause high levels of infestation in homes, dog kennels, and other structures where dogs are present. Soft ticks also tend to reside indoors, typically living in rustic cabins or other dwellings with mice or other rodent infestations. These ticks live in rodent burrows and feed on hosts, including people and pets, while they sleep. Both of these species of ticks are able to reproduce and lay eggs indoors, which is why they can settle in and live within the home environment.

Most ticks, however, prefer to lay eggs on ground soil, so they stay clear of indoor environments. That said, ticks can sometimes end up in your home by attaching to a pet, a person, or items of clothing and hitching a ride into your house. Once they fall off or finish feeding, they’ll likely crawl around looking for either another host or a way outside. Keep in mind that these ticks can lengthen their stay for up to a few days if they find a suitable environment in your home, such as piles of damp clothing on the floor or in hampers.

Ticks can be active year round

Although some tick species prefer warmer temperatures and are more active during spring and summer months, others remain active year round. Adult black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, for example, are in fact most active from fall to spring, often after the first frost. In the Northeast region of the United States, populations of these adult ticks start growing in early October and will remain active as long as the temperature remains above freezing and the ground doesn’t freeze or become covered in snow.

The time of day when ticks are most active can also vary from species to species, as some prefer to hunt during the cooler and more humid hours of the early morning and evenings, while others are more active at midday, when it is hotter and dryer.

Knowing the specific types of tick(s) that are most prevalent in your region can help you narrow down and identify specific seasons when they are most likely to be active so you can take appropriate preventive measures. Check with local health departments, park services, or other agencies for information about tick distribution in your area, as well as high-activity seasons, recommended precautions, and preventive measures.

When hunting, most ticks prefer that you come to them

Most ticks take a passive approach to finding their prey, using a wait-and-watch approach called “questing.” They typically climb to the top of a grass blade or near the edges of a bush or branch and wait for potential prey to pass by. When it does, they extend their hooked front legs and latch onto fur, hair, or clothing, which pulls them off their perch and onto the host, where they can begin to feed.

All ticks feed on the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and some will crawl short distances to pursue hosts when they sense exhaled carbon dioxide, which all mammals emit when they breathe. Certain tick species, however, take a more active role in their pursuit of prey, for example, the lone star tick is an aggressive hunter that has been known to pursue hosts over very long distances.

However, ticks are not as mobile as people think. They do not jump, fly, or drop from trees; instead, they only crawl and climb. They can, however, get transported to new areas while feeding on their hosts. Although ticks are often discovered higher up on the body, they typically attach from lower perches on the ground and then instinctively crawl upward to attach around the head and neck areas because the skin is usually thinner and many animals have trouble reaching these areas to groom them off. Ticks are also often found in the groin, armpit, and other areas where they are typically harder to detect, thereby giving them more time to feed.

Additional information

To learn more about ticks, including where they live and how you can minimize your exposure to them, download the Tick Management Handbook This comprehensive guide was developed by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and contains detailed information about ticks and how to reduce risk for tick bites.

If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, consult with a doctor or order a lab test from IGeneX to detect tick borne diseases.


How to Kill Tree Ticks

About the Author:

Joshua Duvauchelle

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.

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Tree ticks is the common name given to various tick species that live in wooded areas, such as the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis). These ticks may also be found in your yard or garden. Not only do ticks bite and cause physical discomfort, but they may also carry dangerous diseases such as Lyme disease. Kill the ticks you find on yourself and pets or in your yard to protect your family.

Things You’ll Need

Pet treatment products

Fipronil- or permethrin-based rodent traps and baits


5 Tips for a Tick-Free Summer

The benefits of outdoor play far outweigh the risks associated with tick bites. But with the mounting evidence of people becoming stricken with Lyme’s disease after a tick bite, outdoor enthusiasts are right to be aware of this potential threat from tick bites, and to take reasonable precautions to keep ticks at bay.

The concerns associated with tick bites are well-founded, but awareness and a few simple precautions are effective measures at combatting ticks. This summer the fun and fascination of nature await outdoor enthusiasts, so don’t let the fear of tick bites keep you indoors.

Here below are 5 simple strategies which you can adopt which will minimize the likelihood of tick-related problems for your family. Be sure to pass along this information to your children, as this is basic knowledge which young people can understand and implement.

1. Recognize tick habitat

Ticks vary in size and some can be nearly impossible to spot with the naked eye. So rather than look for ticks, look for tick habitat and then apply proper precautions against coming into contact with them. Ticks occur mostly in tall grass and wooded areas. In tall grass ticks are well situated to crawl on to passing animals and people as their legs brush against the grass. So when you are in this type of environment, be prepared to take a few precautions against ticks.

Ticks do not jump out of trees onto people passing below. They tend to remain low even on tall grass because they avoid sunlight and the drier conditions at the top of the grass. If a tick has transferred to your body, or your pets’, it may take several hours before it attaches to its host. This gives you a window of time to inspect and remove a tick before it begins to bite.

2. Prune shrubs back from walkways and keep your lawn cut short.

Because ticks are sensitive to dry conditions and do not thrive in short vegetation, they are seldom a problem in well-maintained lawns. Keep your grass mowed and keep weeds cut.

Prune back any tall decorative grasses and shrubs which may brush against people or pets passing by. Keep yard and play areas free of debris like grass clippings and leaf piles. Ticks cannot jump (contrary to popular myth), they can only crawl directly from a low branch onto a passing surface. So if the vegetation is pruned back a bit, anyone passing by will be safe from ticks.

3. Wear protective clothing when hiking in tick habitat.

When you are hiking through brushy or grassy areas, wear loose-fitting, summer weight light-colored long pants. Wear light colored socks and tuck the pants into the socks. Tape closed any openings in your clothes. Wearing light colors makes it easier to notice if a tick has landed on your clothing, and it is then easy to flick away since it has not begun to bite, which anchors it more firmly to its host.

Wearing protective clothing is the single best measure you can take to protect yourself from tick bites. Inspect the clothing as you remove it to ensure that no tick is hidden in any of the folds. Then put the clothes in the dryer set on high heat to kill any ticks which you may have missed.

4. Use a tick repellent if you will be spending time in tick habitat.

Permanone, a permethrin-based repellent designed for clothing use exclusively, is used to deter ticks. However it’s safety for users is uncertain. Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid repellent/insecticide. The risks for effects associated with the use of Permanone Tick Repellent on human clothing were evaluated in a research study in 1994. Generally, a margin of safety of at least 100 is desirable when the Non-Observed Effect Level (NOEL) is based on animal data to allow for interspecies and intraspecies variation. The margins of safety for acute, subchronic and chronic effects were all greater than 100 for both the general public and park and forestry workers. Like DEET-based formulations, these repellents should be used with discretion, if at all.

Herbal Armor is a permethrin-free (and DEET-free) alternative which only uses natural ingredients. It has been proven to be 100% effective for over two hours, 95.8% effective for three hours and 77.1% effective for four hours. This product was awarded Best Gear of the Year by National Geographic, a significant endorsement.

It is advisable to always use restraint in applying repellents. A basic premise of toxicology is that at a high enough dose, virtually all substances will cause some toxic manifestation.

5. Do regular tick checks on yourself, children and especially pets.

Perhaps the most common way ticks find their way into your home is in the fur of your dog or cat, especially if your pet runs free in wild grassy areas. The tick can then migrate to a family member. Ticks take between 12 and 24 hours to settle in to feed; because of this, regular checks can be very effective. Use a fine-tooth tick comb to groom your pet, with extra attention given to the undersides of the body and tail, the head and behind the ears. A second person is often useful to thoroughly scan hard-to-see areas.

Have your children been playing out in the fields? A quick inspection when they return home will likely identify any unwanted hitch-hiking ticks, which can then be easily removed using a tweezers. Use your hands when inspecting for ticks because your hands may feel the small tick nymphs which your eye might not see. Instruct your child about the basics of tick prevention, and ask your child to report any itchiness associated with an insect bite.

Hunters should be extra vigilant

Hunters are particularly susceptible to tick bites because they spend a lot of time in the field and woodlands where ticks proliferate. Some hunters prefer not to use any scent-based tick repellent since the scent may be picked up by the prey species. Deer are known to commonly carry ticks, so when a hunter is field-dressing or butchering a deer there is increased likelihood that a tick will crawl on to the hunter. Hunters should always wear protective clothing and perform a self-examination after the hunt.

If you do get a tick bite, look for the indicator rash which is associated with Lyme’s disease

Tick bites often come and go like mosquito bites, unnoticed among the many bites, scratches and bumps that come with summer outdoor activities. The main concern associated with tick bites is Lyme’s disease. There is an indicator rash that appears with a tick bite which may carry Lyme’s disease which is larger than 2 inches across, and looks like a bull’s eye.

The indicator rash occurs in about 75% of cases or people infected with Lyme disease. The rash usually appears about one week after the tick bite, but it can take up to four weeks to appear in some cases. The rash commonly (but not always) has a “bull’s eye” appearance of varying size, and it may be as large as 12” in diameter. If this rash appears, it should be reported to your family physician right away. If you experience an unexplained illness accompanied by fever following a tick bite, even if an indicator rash does not appear, this should still be reported to your doctor. Lyme’s disease can be treated with antibiotics, but complications may persist in some cases.

How to remove a tick

The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it firmly with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick. If tweezers are not available, grasp the tick with a piece of tissue or cloth or whatever can be used as a barrier between your fingers and the tick. Ticks can be safely disposed of by placing them in a container of soapy water or alcohol, sticking them to tape or flushing them down the toilet. If you want to have the tick identified, put it in a small vial of alcohol.

The concerns about Lyme Disease are well founded, but the incidence is low compared to the great number of people who enjoy the outdoors each summer. So our best advice is to become familiar with the hazards associated with ticks and how best to avoid them, but remember to keep this information in perspective. Don’t let the fear of ticks keep you and your pets from enjoying the outdoors this summer.

About the Author

Greg Seaman
Originally from Long Island, NY, Greg Seaman founded Eartheasy in 2000 out of concern for the environment and a desire to help others live more sustainably. As Editor, Greg combines his upbringing in the cities of New York, Boston and San Francisco with the contrast of 31 years of living ‘off-grid’ to give us a balanced perspective on sustainable living. Greg spends his free time gardening, working on his home and building a wooden sailboat with hand tools.


See also:  How a Tick Bite Can Give You a Red Meat Allergy - Consumer Reports
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