Tick Populations Predicted to Rise This Year
Tick populations have been increasing and experts are predicting even higher than normal numbers in most areas of the country. Migratory birds and white-tailed deer acting as carriers have expanded the range of many species of tick, while conservation efforts such as decreased reliance on insecticides and the preservation of open space have helped them thrive. These are causes of concern for equestrians, since ticks are not just a nuisance to horses – they can be downright dangerous to horses’ health.
How Many Species of Ticks Are There?
There are more than eighty different species of ticks in the United States. However, the most dangerous species (those with greater ranges and the ability to transmit common diseases) will readily feed on larger hosts when available, including humans and horses. Among these are:
- American dog tick, occurring east of the Rockies and in limited ranges on the Pacific Coast
- Deer tick or blacklegged tick, found widely distributed in forested areas of the Eastern U.S. with a related species occurring along the Pacific Coast
- Lone Star tick, distributed across the U.S. east of Central Texas
- Rocky Mountain wood tick, ranging through the Rocky Mountain states
The Dangers Ticks Present to Horses
Even a tick that is not transmitting disease can cause discomfort for a horse. Symptoms of a horse suffering from tick feeding include skin irritation and hair loss, restlessness and general crankiness. A horse may try to rub the affected area against posts to remove the tick, which causes further irritation. Some horses have severe adverse reactions to any tick bite.
The diseases that ticks carry are even more hazardous. Common tick species feed on multiple hosts in a season, picking up potentially deadly diseases and bacteria that can then be transmitted to horses, including:
- Anaplasmosis/Equine Ehrlichiosis
- Equine Piroplasmosis/Babesiosis
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Tick Paralysis
Environments Ticks Like to Thrive In
Ticks do not like open, sunlit environments but prefer shaded, moist situations. Therefore taking control measures such as keeping pastures open, keeping vegetation outside of fence lines, cutting shrubbery, etc. are highly recommended.
Even a tick that is not transmitting disease can cause discomfort for a horse.
Most of the ticks affecting horses come from wild animals, particularly the rodent and deer populations. There are a record number of deer in the United States this year, hence the predicted higher risk of ticks, especially in the eastern half of the country and along the Pacific Coast.
Controlling Ticks to Prevent Infection
Prevention of tick feeding is an essential part of tick control, as is limiting the time that ticks have to feed; the longer a tick remains attached to its host, the better the chances of disease transmission. Readily available products from Farnam Horse can help:
- Centaura Insect Repellent for Horse and Rider – This topical tick spray provides effective protection against ticks and other pests for up to 12 hours, and will not damage tack.
- Equi-Spot Spot-On Fly Repellent – This easy to use roll-on, applied to the topline, forelock, and legs, kills and repels ticks, gnats and flies for up to two weeks per application.
- Endure Sweat-Resistant Fly Spray – Available as a roll-on or tick spray, the Endure solution is safe to use around your horse’s face or superficial wounds and abrasions, and provides up to 7 days of protection against gnats, flies and ticks.
The best advice for concerned horse owners is to coordinate carefully with a trusted veterinarian to ensure that horses are well protected. Farnam Horse can help you and your veterinarian prevent tick-borne disease with its comprehensive line of tick spray and insect repellent products for horses. Speak with your veterinarian about your options as tick season gets underway.
If a film maker wanted to find a suitable villain for a horror movie, ticks would perfectly fit that description. Well-camouflaged and opportunistic, many ticks like to lurk in dark, wooded areas and climb up tall grass to find their victims. Although tiny in size, these highly adaptable creatures are capable of transmitting bacteria, viruses, and blood parasites, some of which can be life-threatening, even deadly...