Ticks are blood-sucking arthropods that can transmit a wide variety of diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, tularemia, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. There are multiple species of ticks in Placer County. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Placer County.
Ticks in Placer County
Western Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes pacificus)
This tick is abundant in the Placer County foothills nearly year-round, with adults most active December through April, and nymphs and larvae encountered most frequently April through June. Larvae and nymphs feed on small animals like rodents and lizards. Adults feed on larger mammals including deer. This tick is the primary vector for Lyme disease in Placer County.
Pacific Coast Tick (Dermacentor occidentalis)
The adult stage of this tick is usually found from November to June, while larvae and nymphs are most active June through September. Larvae and nymphs feed on small rodents while adults feed on large mammals, especially deer. This tick can be a vector for Pacific Coast tick fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
This tick is usually found from May to August. Larvae and nymphs feed on smaller mammals, while adults feed on larger mammals like dogs. This tick is a vector for Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Relapsing Fever Tick (Ornithodoros hermsi)
This tick looks different than the others because it is a member of the soft-tick family. This tick is usually found in mountain cabins and other dwellings. Their primary hosts are rodents, but these ticks will also bite humans and are a primary vector for tick-borne relapsing fever in Placer County.
Tick Fast Facts
Ticks can be found in grassy, brushy or wooded areas like along sides of trails.
Ticks do not fly, jump, or fall out of trees!
Ticks wait on tips of grasses and leaves for people or other animals to pass by. When a tick grabs on to a passing animal, it will then crawl in search of a good place to attach to the skin.
Once attached, the tick will secrete a cement-like substance that helps it stay in place to feed.
The longer the tick stays attached, the higher the risk of disease transmission.
A feeding tick can remain attached for many hours or days, after which it will drop off the host.
During peak tick season, October-April, our staff collects ticks at designated tick surveillance sites in the foothills. We identify the different species of ticks found and test for tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease. This information helps us identify and communicate tick-borne disease risk to the public.
The District will identify insects like ticks but does not test ticks that are submitted by the public or were found on people in accordance with the California Department of Public Health recommendations.
CDPH does not recommend that ticks be tested for B. burgdorferi to determine if medical treatment is necessary because:
- The need for treatment should not be based on these test results since testing methods vary in accuracy.
- Tick testing results do not necessarily predict if the person bitten will get Lyme disease.
- Even if an attached tick tests “negative,” other undetected ticks may have attached to a person and transmitted the agent of Lyme disease.
- The tick may not be a western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) that transmits Lyme disease.
If a resident would still like to have a tick tested, the University of Massachusetts has a program to test your tick for a fee.
The Ds of Tick-borne Disease Prevention
Protect Yourself and Your Family from Ticks
- DEFEND yourself from ticks with an EPA-registered tick repellent.
- DRESS PROTECTIVELY by covering exposed skin with clothing, wearing long pants and sleeves, and tucking pant legs into socks.
- DISCOURAGE ticks from around your home by clearing debris and dense vegetation.
- DO regular tick checks for several days after being in tick habitat and shower or bathe as soon as possible after being in a tick habitat.
- DETACH ticks immediately using the proper technique.
A localized reaction or infection can occur where the tick was attached. If redness or pain develops at the bite site, consult your doctor.
- Do not squish, burn, smother or twist ticks.
- Use tweezers to grasp the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out.
- Use gloves, tissue or another barrier if you must use your fingers to remove the tick.
- Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after tick removal.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi that can spread from the bite of an infected western blacklegged tick. Other bacteria related to B. burgdorferi can cause Lyme or Lyme-like disease in humans.
To learn more about tick-transmitted diseases, visit the California Department of Public Health Vector-borne Disease section.