What Are Seed Ticks?

Ken Black
Ken Black
A tick that is in the nymph stage of development may be referred to as a seed tick.
A tick that is in the nymph stage of development may be referred to as a seed tick.

Although some smaller types of ticks are referred to as seed ticks, the term generally refers to the stage in a tick's development before it becomes an adult. A tick has a number of development stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Those in the nymph stage can also be referred to as seed ticks, since many people say that these tiny arachnids often resemble seeds. In this form, they are very small, often the size of a pinhead or smaller.

Packaging tape may be used to remove seed ticks.
Packaging tape may be used to remove seed ticks.

The danger in ticks in this stage usually lies in their numbers. Where there is one there are usually hundreds, if not thousands of others. Because seed ticks tend to congregate in the same area, they tend to find the same hosts, so someone who notices one nymph may find many others.

Though all ticks can carry disease, seed ticks, because they are somewhat younger, may not carry quite as many harmful viruses. This should not be misinterpreted as a reason to not take them seriously, however. All ticks have the ability to carry disease such as Lyme disease and rocky mountain fever.

If a pet has ticks, it is important to treat both the animal and the areas of a home where the pet has had access.
If a pet has ticks, it is important to treat both the animal and the areas of a home where the pet has had access.

Most of these immature ticks do not have the ability to tightly cling onto a host, so removing them is often easier than with adult ticks. In some cases, it can simply be done by placing packaging tape over the affected area and lifting it off, as the ticks usually stick to the tape. For animals, using a medication designed to kill ticks usually works very well.

Seed ticks may cause red itchy bumps on the skin where they bite.
Seed ticks may cause red itchy bumps on the skin where they bite.

Pet owners who find that they have a pet affected by seed ticks should treat both the animal and the entire house, or at least areas where the pet has access, with some type of insecticide. These young ticks are numerous and may not always stay on a host, so they can easily wander around a home in areas where a pet has been. Without treatment, it is possible a homeowner will find himself continually having a problem with the small bugs.

Garlic can be used to prevent tick bites.
Garlic can be used to prevent tick bites.

As with any bug bite, the bite of seed ticks should be closely monitored for any infections. Ticks may cause red itchy bumps on the skin where they bite. If these do not go away after few days, or if the person bitten develops an illness shortly thereafter, he should seek medical treatment.

How To Get Rid of Seed Ticks

One of the best ways to ensure your pet doesn’t get bit by a tick is to get the arachnids out of your yard and home. While the thought of ridding your home of tiny pests may feel overwhelming, there are steps you can take to eliminate thousands at a time.

Around Your Yard

Ticks can spread dangerous diseases and infections to people and animals.
Ticks can spread dangerous diseases and infections to people and animals.

Seed ticks flourish during the warm summer months from July through September. Most of the time, the bugs rest on grass blades, leaves and other low-lying bushes. The best way to make your yard less desirable for ticks is by maintaining your vegetation. Cutting the grass weekly to prevent overgrowth, trimming back large bushes and disposing of piles of leaf litter eliminates the areas pests are most likely to be found.

If you continue to find ticks on your pets, consider creating an enclosed space that keeps them away from the vegetation. This way, they can enjoy their time outside without you worrying about them being bitten.

After trying these suggestions, if ticks remain a problem in your yard, consider spraying a pesticide around your landscaping. Solutions containing bifenthrin are effective but may also keep away honey bees and ladybugs, so look for a treatment made with cedar essential oils if you enjoy gardening.

Inside Your House

Sometimes no matter how hard you work at ridding your yard of ticks, they still find their way into your home. If your dog brings them inside, you may not notice the bugs right away, giving them time to jump or be rubbed off your pet’s fur and migrate around your home.

The most effective and immediate way to eliminate ticks inside your house is to spray a plant-based insecticide in each room. Additionally, you can use a natural bug repellant called diatomaceous earth, a fine white powder made from shells of sea creatures. This product is ideal for sprinkling around baseboards and window panes. If you notice ticks in your bedding, wash all affected fabrics in hot water and tumble them in the dryer. It only takes 10 minutes on high heat to kill the arachnids.

How To Remove Seed Ticks When They Are Attached to Your Dog’s Skin

When you find hundred of seed ticks on your dog, it is likely that a few may have penetrated your pet’s skin. There are a few critical do’s and don’ts to follow when removing the bugs.

Do’s of Removing Ticks

  • Do use tweezers to gently grasp the tick as close to the surface of your pet's skin as possible.
  • Do pull the pest straight out.
  • Do wear latex gloves to grab the bug if you don’t have tweezers.
  • Do wash your dog’s skin with soap and water after removing the tick and follow up with an antiseptic cream to promote healing.

Don’t of Removing Ticks

  • Don’t put a burnt match or vaseline on the tick.
  • Don’t twist the arachnid when you pull it out.
  • Don’t grab the tick by the body, as fluid may get squeezed out.

Contact your local vet if you have trouble removing the tick or if the bite area becomes inflamed or infected.

How To Kill Seed Ticks on Dogs

Continued infestations on your dog can be treated or prevented with products that kill ticks and other pests. Many of these items are available from your vet or at your local pet store.

Shampoo

One of the fastest ways to kill ticks on your dog is to wash them with a medicated shampoo. These soaps usually kill on contact, so bathing dogs after they've been out in the wilderness is an excellent way to prevent any ticks from burrowing in their fur or spreading around your home. If you don’t have medicated dog shampoo, dish soap also can kill ticks on contact.

Pills

Oral medications designed to kill fleas and ticks are a great option if you find yourself outside with Fido all the time. These medications are not harmful to your dog and work by causing a chemical build-up right under your pet’s skin. If an insect bites, it ingests the medically treated fluid and consequently dies.

Ointments

If your dog is sensitive to certain foods, an oral medication may be difficult to keep down. Ointments are an excellent option for these pets, and many vets feel they do an even better job at keeping ticks away. Since the medication is spread over the top of the pet's skin, it repels most insects before they try to take a bite. If a pet is bitten, the medication affects the insect’s nervous system, and it dies.

Discussion Comments

anon1006761

I have had seed ticks in my house. When we found them, they seemed not to stop. We just kept finding them to the point where we had our entire bathroom floor covered with them and we had a specialist come out and he did not know what they were.

anon998376

Ticks aren't insects or "bugs." They're arachnids, like spiders. Just FYI.

anon995520

If you got bit by 130 seed ticks you would be in the hospital. I got bit by one and was in the hospital for two days and had 101 fever for three days

anon990280

This article is misleading. Not all ticks can cause Lyme's Disease and Spotted Rocky Mountain Fever. Those in the genus Ixodes can carry these diseases. Now, given, these are typically the ones people run into, but still.

anon963020

Move to a very cold climate!

anon351595

I was recently bitten by over 130 little seed ticks. I'm just waiting for Lyme symptoms. Any prevention?

anon111518

Seed ticks ("turkey mites") are actually larvae form of ticks, and they do invade the host in numbers! causing itching at the bite site,and possible tick borne diseases. they do not hatch eggs in your body or burrow like common myth says.

If your home has been invaded the best thing to do is have it exterminated. to prevent infestation make sure to use flea/tick products on your pet (i.e frontline plus)(which you should have on your pet anyway to prevent tapeworm infections,anemia,and allergic dermatitis caused by fleas and diseases spread by ticks!)

make sure when you come home from being in fields, woods, etc. to change clothes and wash them immediately, check pets for hitchhikers, etc. vacuum your house regularly also.

anon108302

One of dogs took off for a couple of days and brought these ticks back to the house and infected our other dog and one of our cats. The dog (40 pounds) that brought them back to the house would have died within a week had we not taken her to the vet. She was completely covered and you could even tell until there were so many of them. Frontline and lots of insecticide are working so far.

anon107823

I don't know about how or if they can infect your house, but you get bit by them just like normal, adult ticks. My wife and I were recently bit by a bunch of them walking in a park on an overgrown trail (at the end of August).

anon103875

This has been very helpful and informative. Thank you so much!

anon56535

I just had my five year old cat put down because he came down with an unexpected, severe Haemobartonellosis disease (caused by seed ticks).

berty

How would I get rid of seed ticks in my house if these little things come in the thousands? Where would someone get this in the first place, and how can I distinguish between one tick from another. I'm always afraid of these little creatures because of the illness that they cause, and the eggs they hatch in your body. I suppose its better in my house than in my body.

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    • A tick that is in the nymph stage of development may be referred to as a seed tick.
      By: Viktor
      A tick that is in the nymph stage of development may be referred to as a seed tick.
    • Packaging tape may be used to remove seed ticks.
      By: S_E
      Packaging tape may be used to remove seed ticks.
    • If a pet has ticks, it is important to treat both the animal and the areas of a home where the pet has had access.
      By: Gabriel Blaj
      If a pet has ticks, it is important to treat both the animal and the areas of a home where the pet has had access.
    • Seed ticks may cause red itchy bumps on the skin where they bite.
      By: lacamerachiara
      Seed ticks may cause red itchy bumps on the skin where they bite.
    • Garlic can be used to prevent tick bites.
      By: rmarinello
      Garlic can be used to prevent tick bites.
    • Ticks can spread dangerous diseases and infections to people and animals.
      By: Alexandra
      Ticks can spread dangerous diseases and infections to people and animals.