Hot Springs Village POA Superintendent of Streets and Sanitation Todd Noles said, “I have had several calls from people who want us to provide information on ticks, especially to alert new residents.”

Arkansas – the “Natural State”

Arkansas holds the title of the “Natural State,” earning this designation every day. A large portion of the state remains undeveloped, with portions of the natural setting used for pleasure and some for conservation. If you’ve ever been to Arkansas, you know the state is ideal for outdoor activities.

Abundant outdoor activities

Arkansas is home to the mountain biking capital of the world (Bentonville). The state also proudly boasts 52 state parks, hundreds of hiking and backpacking trails, and Hot Springs National Park. Abundant outdoor activities are available in Hot Spring Village. Living in the Ouachita Mountains provides villagers with a beautiful landscape for walking on one of our many trails or just enjoying the outdoors. While “natural” has many wonderful connotations, undeveloped land has a negative side.

What about those pesky ticks?

Unfortunately, an encounter with ticks is inevitable in Arkansas due to the natural, unspoiled environment and plentiful outdoor activities. Ticks are gross, difficult to deal with, and willing to attach themselves to just about any living thing they can, from you to your dog.

Is anywhere safe from ticks?

Wherever your favorite outdoor spot in Arkansas is, you almost certainly know there are ticks. Ticks are unpleasant and bloodsucking parasites that are disease-carrying arachnids. Ticks, one of the largest distributors of disease vectors in the world, ticks exist on every continent. You might have been waiting for the “except Antarctica” at the end of that, but they have been found there too.

How many types of ticks are there in Arkansas? Should you be concerned about all of them?

Six types of ticks in Hot Springs Village

There are six types of ticks in Hot Springs Village.

1.  The American Dog Tick ranges in size from 5 to 15 mm and is found throughout the entire state.

The American Dog Tick is also sometimes called the Wood Tick. This tick carries the bacteria that cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia, and it is very common across more than half of the United States. In some cases, it has also been known to be a vector of Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia.

They are also capable of causing Tick Paralysis, which is caused by a neurotoxin in these ticks. It can lead to progressive paralysis in a fashion similar to Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The American Dog Tick can get quite large, with an engorged female tick reaching up to ½ inch in size.

Dont get ticked in Hot Springs Village Arkansas American Dog Tick
American Dog Tick

2. The Brown Dog Tick may range in size from 2.3 to 3.2 mm and has been found all across the state.

The Brown Dog Tick may start off as a small tick with a distinctly elongated body, but engorged females can exceed ½ inch after feeding, sometimes reaching the size of a raisin. Females can increase their size to 100 times larger than normal when feeding.

You may also see American Dog Ticks called Kennel Ticks or Pantropical Dog Ticks. These ticks are found in every state in the continental United States, and they live in every corner of Arkansas, although they prefer warmer climates and are far more likely to be active in the warmer months.

Unlike most ticks, the Brown Dog Tick can complete its entire life cycle indoors, making it a risk for infestation of homes. It is one of the most prevalent disease vectors for dogs, carrying Canine Babesiosis and Ehrlichia. For humans, its primary risk is the transmission of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

3. The Black-Legged Tick or Black-Legged Deer Tick may reach a size of up to 3.5 mm and has been spotted in most of Arkansas.

The Black-Legged Tick is present throughout Arkansas, although it is far more prevalent in certain counties. These counties are spread across the state but are predominantly located in Northwest and Northern Arkansas. The Black-Legged Tick seems less common in counties bordering the Mississippi River. You may also see these ticks referred to as Deer Ticks and in some places, they are called Bear Ticks.

These ticks start out the size of a sesame seed or smaller, but they can exceed ¼ inch when engorged. They are vectors of multiple diseases that can impact humans, including Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis. They can also carry Lyme Disease, but it is rare in Arkansas.

4. The Lone Star Tick varies in size from 0.5 to 1 mm and can be seen across the state.

The Lone Star Tick, also called the Northeastern Water Tick and Turkey Tick, is also referred to as a Seed Tick. Seed Ticks are in the larval stage of ticks, and their tiny size gives them their name. Seed ticks can attack you by the dozens and can be any type of tick, but they are most commonly Lone Star Ticks. They are named for the white star present on the backs of females, while males usually have white streaks.

They are the primary vector for Ehrlichiosis in humans but can also carry Tularemia and STARI. Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, or STARI. STARI causes a rash similar in appearance to that of Lyme disease. It can also cause fever, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, and fatigue.

5.  The Gulf Coast Tick ranges from 1.3 to 6 mm and may exist anywhere in Arkansas.

Gulf Coast Ticks are not overly prevalent; they usually only occur in the Southeastern states along the Gulf of Mexico and some of the Atlantic coastal states, although they can occur as far west as Oklahoma and as far north as Virginia. Interestingly, they are prolific when it comes to reproduction, with a female laying over 8,000 eggs. They are relatively large ticks, reaching around ¼ inch when not engorged. These ticks are three-host ticks, which means they require three separate hosts to complete their full lifecycle. They typically spend their time in prairie grasses but can also be found in shady wooded areas.

Gulf Coast Ticks are vectors of Rickettsia Parkeri, which causes a form of Spotted Fever comparable to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The symptoms are similar, with headaches, fever, and a rash, but the presence of Rickettsia Parkeri can also lead to tissue death at the site of the tick bite.

6.  The Groundhog Tick may reach a size of up to 3.5 mm and is known to exist in all of Arkansas

You don’t have to get overly acquainted with the groundhog tick because it is rare for them to bite people. They are most often considered pests, and they most commonly attach to groundhogs, giving them their name. This doesn’t mean they are not a threat to people, though.

These ticks are not vectors of Lyme disease, but they can carry the Powassan Virus. The virus was named after the town of Powassan, Ontario, due to the death of a young boy. This virus can lead to Encephalitis, a deadly brain infection. Powassan Virus is rare but quite deadly when encountered.

How can I prevent ticks?

Ticks can cause multiple illnesses in humans and our pets, and some of these diseases can be deadly. Some people may even suffer lifelong symptoms of tick-borne illnesses.

There are a few ways you can protect yourself from ticks, though. Wearing long pants and long sleeves and tucking your pants into your shoes can help keep them off of you. Bug spray containing DEET is the best protection against ticks. It can help repel them, although they may need to come into contact with your clothes or skin to be impacted by the bug spray.

For your furry friends, a veterinarian-prescribed tick medication is ideal. Various products are on the market, including collars, topicals, and chews. You should only buy these products from your vet or a reliable veterinary pharmacy to decrease the risk of purchasing dangerous fakes.

After you and your dog have been out in wooded or grassy areas, you should do a thorough tick check for both of you. Whenever possible, have another person check the areas you can’t see on yourself, like your back and scalp. Check skin folds and crevices, like armpits, the backs of your knees, and the groin.

Give your dog a thorough check, making sure to part their fur and check skin folds. Some tick prevention medications for pets require the tick to bite your dog to contact the pesticide, so you may find dead or dying ticks that have bitten your dog.


Ticks are one of the negative aspects of spending time outdoors in Arkansas. It’s important to protect yourself since ticks live everywhere in this state. Don’t be afraid of strong bug sprays, and make sure your pet receives tick prevention from your vet. While some people may not like the idea of using pesticides on themselves or their pets, it is far better than the alternative of getting a deadly tick-borne disease. 

Featured image: Six common types of adult female ticks. Top row, left to right: Lone Star, Black-legged, Asian long-horned. Bottom row left to right: Gulf Coast, American dog, Rocky Mountain wood (Top row, left to right) Public Health Image Library, Wikimedia Commons, James Gathany/CDC (Bottom row, left to right) Public Health Image Library, Patrick Gorring/iNaturalist, Public Health Image Library

By Todd Noles, Hot Springs Village POA Superintendent of Streets and Sanitation

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