Brown dog tick

Adult Male (left) and Female (right)
Photo ©University of California Department of Entomology

The Brown dog tick Is associated with domestic dogs, their kennels, runs, and houses. When ticks are not on a dog, they hide in cracks and crevices, often in great numbers. In the United States, brown dog ticks rarely bite people. However, houses with brown dog tick infestations may become overrun with them. It is most numerous in the southern and southwestern states and in California. The brown dog tick is a hard tick that spends all its life cycle in and near the living quarters of its host. Engorged females drop off and crawl into cracks and crevices to lay eggs. Larvae and nymphs also hide in such places and come out only when ready to feed. Dog kennels, runs,and houses may shelter hundreds of hiding ticks.

Adult males are reddish-brown, 1/12 to 1/8 inch long. Adult unengorged females resemble males. Engorged adult females may be 1/4 to 3/8 inch long. Females have gray-blue to olive bodies. The nymphs resemble adult females, but are smaller. The larvae resemble small nymphs, but have six legs. The eggs, laid in groups of thousands, show a whitish spot just before hatching, but are smooth, shiny dark brown, otherwise. After laying eggs, the shriveled female dies.

Under ideal conditions the life cycle may be completed in about two months, however, under normal conditions, with a host present, there are usually 3 to 4 generations per year. Because larval and nymphal stages can live two months without feeding, and adults can live at least eight months with no host, infestations can persist long after dogs leave the premises.

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