Species Spotlight: Gulf Coast Tick

Gulf Coast tick

Ticks are some of the most common pests in the United States. With over 800 species in the whole world and roughly 90 of them inhabiting the United States, ticks are everywhere. As a company that specializes in tick control, one of our goals at Mosquito Authority is to educate our customers on just how important proper tick control is. Each species of tick is different and it is crucial to understand each one, from where they live to what diseases they spread.

In our last Species Spotlight, we told you about the lone star tick. The lone star tick typically inhabits the eastern half of the United States, feeds on different hosts throughout its lifecycle, and transmits a number of diseases to both humans and animals. In this week’s Species Spotlight, you will learn about a different tick species: the Amblyomma maculatum, otherwise known as the Gulf Coast tick. Read on to learn more about the Gulf Coast tick:

Where do they live?

As the name suggests, the Gulf Coast tick is usually found in states along the Atlantic coast such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Ticks of this species can also be found in parts of southern Arizona and other areas along the Gulf of Mexico. 

What does their life cycle look like?

The Gulf Coast tick goes through the typical life cycle with four stages: egg, larvae, nymph, and adult. Unlike other ticks who prefer to have only one host throughout their life cycles, such as the brown dog tick, the Gulf Coast tick usually feeds on three different hosts at each life stage

Are they dangerous to humans?

Like many other species, Gulf Coast ticks can transmit diseases to humans. According to the National Environmental Health Association, ticks of this species are able to transmit Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis to humans. This disease is a form of spotted fever and differs slightly from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Are they dangerous to animals?

Gulf Coast ticks can transmit Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis to both humans and animals. While they will occasionally choose human hosts, these ticks primarily feed on wildlife.

When are they active?

Gulf Coast ticks are active at different times of the year depending on what life stage they are in. As adults, these ticks are most active from June through October. As nymphs, however, they are typically more active from December through March. Gulf Coast tick activity can also vary based on geographic location. For example, Gulf Coast ticks in Texas can be active from May through March.

What do they look like?

Ticks of this species look different depending on their life stage. As nymphs, Gulf Coast ticks are typically dark bluish-gray or a dull white. Adult female and male ticks of this species are dark brown with silvery-white stripes near the tops of their bodies.

How do I protect myself and my pets from Gulf Coast ticks?

Here are some simple and effective ways you can protect yourself and your family from tick bites:

  • Gulf Coast ticks often feed on birds and mammals, so discourage any unwanted wildlife from entering your yard by constructing fences.
  • Clear tall grass and bushes from around your home.
  • If you find a tick on your pet, remove it right away.
  • If you are hiking, keep to the center of trails.
  • Hire a local tick control company

Now that you know a little bit about Gulf Coast ticks, you can be better prepared and more knowledgeable about tick control. However, the best thing you can do to avoid ticks in your yard is to hire a professional. At Mosquito Authority, we rid your yard of ticks so you don’t have to worry every time you step outside.
To find your local tick control company, click here.

What Happens to Mosquitoes in Winter?

One good thing about the end of summer and the beginning of winter is the disappearance of mosquitoes. Many people are sad to see the warm weather leave as the cold weather sets in, but the lack of mosquitoes in the air is definitely an upside to winter. 

But have you ever wondered what happens to the mosquitoes in your yard when winter comes around? A common belief is that mosquitoes simply die off in the colder months of the year. However, this is not always the case. 

The Mosquito Life Cycle

To understand what really happens to these insects when the temperatures outside drop, we have to first understand their life cycle. Most mosquitoes go through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, one of the most common species of mosquito in the United States, overwinter in the egg stage. 

So what does it mean to overwinter? This means that female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lay their eggs prior to temperatures dropping in the winter. Mosquitoes only need half an inch of water to lay their eggs in, which is why getting rid of any standing water in your yard or outdoor space is a crucial part of mosquito control. 

The adult mosquitoes will eventually die off after breeding and laying eggs; however, their eggs can survive throughout winter by going into a state of diapause, meaning their development is paused for a few months. When temperatures eventually start to rise again, the eggs will resume development and hatch.

Adult Mosquitoes in Winter 

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), whether or not a mosquito lives through winter depends on its species. Some species can overwinter as adults by hiding in places like logs or holes in the ground (NPMA). 

By finding warm places to hibernate during the colder months of the year, female mosquitoes can delay laying their eggs until spring comes around again. This overwintering process, for both adults and eggs, means mosquitoes can get a headstart in the spring when it comes to invading your backyard. 

Preparing for Mosquitoes Ahead of Time

At Mosquito Authority, we take every step possible to ensure your home is mosquito free– and it stays that way. Here are some tips on mosquito control in the winter and preventing mosquitoes from surviving the cold months:

Get rid of any standing water in your yard

Mosquitoes need water to breed and lay eggs, but they do not need a lot. Because these insects can lay eggs in as little as half an inch of water, it is important to get rid of anything in your yard that could collect and hold water.  

Declutter your yard

There are a lot of items that can hold water if left out in a yard, including tire swings, trash can lids, and wheel barrels. Remember to consistently empty these items of any standing water and replace birdbath water frequently.

Use mosquito repellent

When spending time outdoors, make sure to apply mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Mosquito Authority takes all aspects of mosquito control seriously, from ridding your yard of these pests to ensuring they don’t have places to breed. Contact us for more information on our services and find a Mosquito Authority location near you!

Covid-Safe Holiday Tips

2020 has been a long year for everyone, which is why we all deserve to enjoy the holiday season! Unfortunately, our celebrations will most likely look a little different this year due to the spread of COVID-19. However, that just means we have to find new ways to enjoy the holidays!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are plenty of precautions you can take that will minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19 while still celebrating this season. Here are some tips for a COVID-safe holiday season:

Host a virtual gathering

While virtual Secret Santa parties or Christmas dinners might not be your preferred way of celebrating the holidays, they are relatively COVID-safe. If you can’t see family or friends over the holidays due to the pandemic, you can still make it special by seeing them over a phone or laptop. Virtual gatherings pose little risk for contracting COVID-19, which makes them a viable option for holiday celebrations.

Wear masks and stay outside where possible

If you do decide to see people over the holidays, make sure you follow the proper COVID precautions. The CDC recommends hosting outdoor rather than indoor gatherings and always wearing a mask to reduce your risk of contracting the virus. You should also bring hand sanitizer wherever you go, whether you are doing some last-minute Christmas shopping or attending a gift exchange. 

Have a “drive-by” party

For months now, people have been opting to have “drive-by” parties in lieu of birthday parties and holiday gatherings. If you’re itching for some human interaction during the Christmas season (who isn’t?), consider hosting a “drive-by” party where friends and family can celebrate from the safety of their own vehicles. Sit out on the front porch or sidewalk and enjoy the festivities!

Prepare homemade dishes and deliver them in advance

The pandemic is unfortunately forcing many people, especially those at high-risk for contracting COVID, to celebrate the holidays alone or somewhat isolated. If you know of someone who is spending this holiday season by themselves, consider delivering them a home-cooked meal or a traditional family dish. Just be sure to make a contactless delivery and take proper COVID precautions! 

Keep it in the family

For some, the holidays aren’t the same without family. If you plan on getting together with your family over the holidays, try to keep the gathering small and maintain social distancing guidelines with those you do not live with. While the CDC does not provide a specific number for gatherings, they do recommend limiting the number of attendees as much as possible.

Opt to shop online

Online shopping has become more and more popular over the years and is a relatively COVID-safe option for Christmas shoppers. Instead of shopping in crowded stores, try ordering your Christmas presents online to eliminate the potential risk of in-person shopping. If you do opt to go to physical stores, don’t forget to wear a mask and practice social distancing!

For more information on COVID-19 guidelines during the holidays, visit the CDC website.

Be Mosquito-Free

Learn how to better protect yourself from mosquitoes and disease!

At Mosquito Authority, our goal is to help protect you and your family from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. To do this, we believe it is important that our customers know what they can do to help prevent mosquitoes from invading their yard. 

There are a lot of ways mosquitoes can get in the way of enjoying your outdoor space. You might not know it, but your yard could be providing these pests with the environment they need to survive. For example, did you know mosquitoes can breed in as little as a tablespoon of water? Knowing things like this is a crucial part of mosquito control.

For mosquito control around your home, we recommend following the three Ds: Drain, Dress, Defend. To help you better prepare for mosquito season and enjoy a peaceful backyard, check out what it means to Drain, Dress, and Defend:

DRAIN: You might be unknowingly attracting mosquitoes to your outdoor area. There are plenty of items in your backyard that are capable of collecting even small amounts of standing water. These items can become huge magnets for mosquitoes, who need water to breed.

Remove all standing water in your yard and around your home; a mosquito only needs about a tablespoon of standing water to lay her eggs, so it’s important to get rid of any standing water that could be potential breeding sites for these pests. Common locations for standing water include:

  • Clogged rain gutters and corrugated drain pipes
  • Bird baths, pet food and water bowls, and planters
  • Trash and recycling bins
  • Children’s toys and kiddie pools
  • Grill covers
  • Flower pots
  • Tire swings
  • Buckets

DRESS: Did you know that the clothes you wear might be making you more attractive to mosquitoes? To reduce your risk of being bitten, try to wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Mosquitoes are known to be more attracted to dark clothing than light clothing, so wearing lighter colors can help you be less attractive to these pests. Also, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when appropriate is helpful. Mosquitoes can even bite through loose-weave and tight-fitting clothing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend dressing your children in clothing that covers their arms and legs. 

DEFEND: EPA-registered repellents are reviewed and approved to pose minimal risk when used properly. The most effective ingredients to look for in repellent are DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. 

When applying insect repellent, always follow the instructions on the product label and reapply as directed. The CDC advises against spraying mosquito repellent on areas that will be covered by clothing. Lastly, if you plan to wear sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and then apply your insect repellent.

When performed properly by trained professionals, backyard mosquito treatments can help reduce the danger and risk posed by mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses. Mosquito Authority’s integrated mosquito management protocol will break the mosquito life cycle and all but eliminate mosquitoes from your yard (and your life) all summer long.

When dealing with mosquitoes, it is crucial to remember the three Ds: Drain, Dress, Defend. Ridding your yard of standing water, wearing loose and light-colored clothing, and applying mosquito repellent are just a few of the ways you can prevent mosquito bites. To find your local mosquito control company, click here.

Mosquito Control in Your Backyard

Are you unknowingly attracting mosquitoes to your property? Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a ½ inch of standing water, so even items containing water the size of a bottle cap may be mosquito magnets. Many people do not even realize their yard is full of potential mosquito breeding sites until they hire a professional mosquito control service. 

With mosquitoes needing very little water to breed, even small amounts of rainfall or moisture can create a host of breeding sites in your backyard. An important part of mosquito control is preventing these pests from breeding and multiplying. 

So, here are some common places where mosquitoes like to lay eggs and how to prevent them from becoming breeding sites:

Birdbaths

Your birdbaths might be attracting more than just birds. It is important to frequently change out the water in your birdbaths (about once a week), because they are very popular breeding grounds for mosquitoes. 

Kiddie pools

Backyard pools are fun, but they can also attract mosquitoes if they are not cleaned out properly. If you don’t want to take the time to empty out the pool after each use, be sure to keep it clean and covered when you are not using it.

Tire swings 

Tire swings are popular sites for mosquito breeding because they can easily collect rainwater. Empty any tires in your yard after each rainfall, or drill holes in the bottom of tire swings to let the water drain out.

Toys and buckets

Remember to empty out any toys and buckets in your yard after it rains. These items are high-risk for breeding mosquitoes.

Flower pots

Flowers need water to survive, but that also means your flower pots may attract mosquitoes in search of a breeding site. Make sure to empty out any stagnant water that has collected in your flower pots and planters. 

Gutters

If leaves have gathered in your gutters and clogged the drainage system, that can result in a buildup of stagnant water. You can prevent your gutters from becoming mosquito breeding sites by cleaning them out regularly.

Trash cans

Garbage can attract a variety of unwanted pests. After a rainfall, water can collect inside your garbage cans or even on the lids. Make sure that your garbage cans are always tightly closed and that you empty any excess water from the lids.

Pet bowls

If you have any pets, water and food bowls left outside can become popular mosquito breeding sites. We recommend emptying and replacing the water, as well as cleaning the bowl, at least once a week.

Grill covers

Just like pretty much everything else left out in your yard overnight, grill covers are prone to collecting water. Frequently check to make sure water is not gathering on the top of your grill cover, especially after heavy rainfall.

Ensuring mosquitoes do not have anywhere to thrive in your yard is a huge part of proper mosquito control. For more information on how to ensure you have a mosquito-free yard and home, check out our other blogs.