Mosquito bites are itchy and annoying, but they can also be dangerous. In fact, mosquitoes kill more humans in a year than any other animal. Here in Canada, West Nile Virus is the most concerning mosquito-borne disease. While the chances of being infected are still slim in our part of the world, taking precautions to prevent mosquitoes and avoid bites, benefits everybody.
Summer is the time of year when ticks are most likely to transmit Lyme disease to humans. The blacklegged tick is the only one in the Toronto area that transmits the specific bacteria that causes lyme disease. Being able to identify these ticks and prevent them will be a huge advantage as you get out and enjoy nature this year.
Blacklegged ticks (ixodes scapularis) are small, anywhere from less than 2 mm to around 5 mm, depending on the life stage. Ticks are flat and oval-shaped with 8 legs, though newly hatched larval ticks only have 6 legs. Female ticks are orange and brown with dark legs, and male blacklegged ticks are reddish-brown in color. The nymphal stage occurs during the summer, and these are the ticks that cause most of the infections in humans. Nymphs are about the size of a pinhead. Ticks rely on blood to live and grow, so they are always on the lookout for an animal or human to feed on.