Brown dog ticks are a worldwide pest and live throughout the United States, but prefer areas of higher humidity and temperature, such as southern states like Florida. Because their preferred hosts in the US are dogs, brown dog ticks are generally found on the animals inside kennels, yards, small animal hospitals, and other indoor spaces where dogs are present. They can also be found outside areas of heavy vegetation where dogs have been active.
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.
What diseases can they 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.
Key Facts on 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.
Strategies for Prevention
Brown dog ticks can easily become an infestation in indoor environments, such as 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
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!
Tick Check and Removal Guide
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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!