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Unwelcome Visitors: How to Inspect for Pests

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Let’s face it, no one wants to learn that they are unwitting hosts to ‘unwelcome visitors’ who can make their way into the cleanest and most well-maintained homes or offices. The occasional house fly or yellow jacket is one thing, but ticks, bed bug infestations, mites, or fleas are quite another.

The problem is that most of us would have difficulty telling a tick from a from a flea.

Then, there are the pests that are all but invisible to the naked eye. You suspect you have some sort of infestation, you’re just not sure what. But knowing what to look for is important if you’re going eliminate the problem effectively.

Here are a few tips to help you identify pests - so you can get rid of those pesky critters.

How to Identify Ticks

First of all, ticks are not insects. They are Arachnida, a class that includes spiders, scorpions, spiders and mites. The easiest way to identify a tick is by how many legs it has. Like other arachnids, ticks have eight legs in the nymph and adult stages. (They only have six legs in the larval stage.) They have flattened, tear-shaped bodies and when they are engorged will have a rounder, lighter-colored body.

Ticks generally wait for host animals on grasses and shrubs. When an unsuspecting victim brushes against them quickly, they let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot fly or jump.

Keep in mind that there are different types of ticks. Deer ticks, for instance, are smaller than their counterparts, the dog and lone star ticks. Deer ticks usually range in size from 2 to 3.5 mm (.078 to .137 inches) and are generally the size of a sesame seed.

However, an engorged tick can measure up to 10 mm long. On the other hand, hard ticks, such as the deer tick, have a shield (or scutum) covering the body. Soft ticks do not.

Ticks are so-called external parasites and live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. While some ticks tend to be selective in their choice of hosts, others will feed on almost any accessible host. They may seem relatively benign, but they’re not; they can actua