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Ticks are near top of the list when it comes to most dangerous pests



Ticks are out in force, very early. Here is some information on how I treat for them.

I want to state that I am not recommending the procedures I mention, only that this is the way I treat for ticks and it works. You can certainly try it if you like. Personally, I would never use pesticides in my yard or Frontline, which is a pesticide, on my dogs.

Ticks are not insects. They are arachnids belonging to the group, mites. They are bigger than all other mites and they are very important. There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world and they are capable of spreading more than 65 diseases, many of them serious. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and tularemia are a few.

If someone made a list of the 10 most dangerous pests, ticks would be close to the top of the list. For some reason, they receive almost no attention compared to bed bugs, which are absolutely harmless. Ticks mostly feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, but some species feed on reptiles. They can be found in lawns, yards with trees and shrubs and, occasionally, inside homes. They prefer the shaded areas of your yard.

If you find a tick imbedded in your pet or on another person or on yourself, do not yank it off. Gently pull the tick straight off with a pair of tweezers. You can also put some diatomaceous earth on the tick and it will come off by itself. Make sure you save the tick so you can get it identified. Any competent pest control company can easily identify any tick. You want to know what diseases, if any, it can cause.

I treated my yard by raking up all the leaves from the cottonwood and elm trees surrounding my yard. Ticks like to hang out in leaves. Then, I lightly sprayed the ground and then power-dusted it with food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) in the shady areas where the dogs like to hang out and where the ticks also prefer. You can use a hand duster as well. The DE won’t hurt the dogs but all arthropods, including ticks, will not do well. If it rains (yeah, right), I will redo the DE. I do not recommend using any pesticides in your yard if you have pets. There is no such thing as a “safe” pesticide.

I sprayed the following recipe on my dogs to kill any ticks they picked up: 8 oz. apple cider vinegar; 4 oz. warm water; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Mix dry ingredients first, then slowly add to wet as the vinegar and baking soda will react slightly. Put into spray bottle and spray pets down. Be careful not to get in pets’ eyes.

We have about a dozen species of ticks in New Mexico. As I said, any competent pest company can easily identify any tick you bring to them. The most common species is the brown dog tick. It is small and reddish-brown. Females can lay up to 5,000 eggs, depending on the amount of blood consumed. Immatures feed on a variety of animals. Adults feed on domestic dogs and occasionally bite humans. In dogs, it can transmit canine erhlichiosis and canine babesia. It has recently been identified as a reservoir for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the Southwest.

Most of the ticks listed below are only found in the woods and remote areas and won’t infest your homes. Some serious ones are:

• Talaje soft ticks (Ornithodoros talaje) — Man, rodents, pigs, cattle, horses. Very painful bite.

• Herm’s soft ticks (Ornithodoros hermsi)—Primary vector of tickborne relapsing fever spirochetes in the area.

• Relapsing fever ticks (Argasidae – Ornithodoros turicata) — Feeds on kangaroo rats, rabbits, sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, humans, rattlesnakes and turtles. May produce intense irritation and swelling at bite site in humans. Also produces relapsing fever spirochetes.

• Pajaorella ticks (Argasidae – Ornithodoros coriaceus) — Has a very painful bite. There are many tales about the seriousness of the bite and it is feared like a rattlesnake in parts of Mexico. It feeds on humans, deer and swallows.

• Rocky Mountain wood ticks (Ixodidae – Dermacentor andersoni) — Immatures feed on rodents and rabbits. Adults feed on cattles, sheep, deer, humans and other large mammals. They can vector Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and tularemia.

As I mentioned, any good pest control person can easily identify any of these ticks. If you have any bug questions, you can contact me at