Brown Dog Tick Dermacentor variabilis

Brown dog ticks are a worldwide pest and live throughout the United States. Their preferred hosts in the US are dogs, and you can find these ticks inside kennels, yards, small animal hospitals, and other spaces where dogs are present.

Brown Dog Tick Habitat

In the Northeast, these tick are found almost exclusively indoors.​​ When found indoors, these ticks can often be located along baseboards, under window and door moldings, in spaces between walls or wallpaper, and in furniture. Because these ticks prefer indoor environments, they can be found year-round.

Tick Habitat

Diseases They Can Carry

Brown dog ticks are primarily known to carry and spread diseases only affecting canines, but they have more recently been shown to carry and transmit at least one disease that impacts human health. Follow the links below to learn more.

Human Diseases:

Canine Diseases:

Biology and Feeding Habits

1.) Brown dog ticks are a 3-host tick and have 3 life stages when they bite animals: larva, nymph, and adult. Brown dog ticks are considered a 3-host tick, meaning that one tick will feed from a different host at each of these three life stages. In a domestic environment, one tick may feed from the same host (dog) for each of these life stages.

Visit TickEncounter.org to see more images of this tick at different life stages.

2.) Brown dog ticks develop from egg to adult quickly. The life cycle of the brown dog tick can be as short as 2 months, if conditions are favorable. The time needed for development and molting is dependent on temperature, and is generally faster in warmer temperatures.​ Females can lay up to 5,000 eggs at a time, which take about three weeks to hatch.

3.) Brown dog ticks have a specific host preference. Brown dog ticks in the US prefer to feed on dogs in all 3 life stages. They can occasionally be found on other hosts, like humans, when their preferred host cannot be found.​

Tick Check and Removal Guide

Tick Check Guide

Prevention for Pets

Brown dog ticks can easily become an infestation in indoor environments, like homes and kennels, when brought inside by dogs. The best management approach for this tick is to prevent an infestation by protecting household pets from tick bites through the use of flea and tick medication, and by routinely checking for ticks in these common areas:

  • Inside the ears
  • On the head and neck
  • Between the toes
  • Belly and chest
  • Legs
Tick Check Picture

Visit the CDC website on Preventing Ticks on Your Pets to learn more.

Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any tick prevention products to your cats without first asking your veterinarian!

References

  1. Stafford, Kirby C. Tick Management Handbook: An integrated guide for homeowners, pest control operators, and public health officials for the prevention of tick-associated disease. Revised Edition, 2007. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Available at: https://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/bulletins/b1010.pdf.
  2. Lord, CC. Featured Creatures: Brown dog tick. Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida. Publication Number: EENY-221. Available at: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/medical/brown_dog_tick.htm.
  3. Companion Vector-Borne Diseases. Brown dog tick. Bayer. Available at: http://www.cvbd.org/en/tick-borne-diseases/about-ticks/tick-species/brown-dog-tick/.

The TickAPP

TickApp Logo

The TickApp is a free smartphone app that offers tick identification resources in the Northeast and Midwest USA. It was developed as a Citizen Science Project from our partners at Columbia University!