Understanding tick behavior

The most medically important tick in the United States is the Blacklegged (deer) tick.

This species of tick undergoes what scientist call ‘questing’ behavior.

Questing behavior is when ticks rely on their ability to SENSE!

The tick crawls up to the ends of the blades of grass where they are detecting CO2, heat and pheromones from us or our animals.

The blacklegged tick loves to crawl up!

This is a very important behavior to consider when testing any repellent on ticks.

Other tick species do not undergo this questing behavior

Ticks such as such as the Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) do not show questing, yet this is the tick species commonly used to test tick repellents sold on the market.

How we performed the study

The gold-standard of vertical test strips

We used two materials, Whatman No. 4 filter paper and jean fabric to stimulate a natural environment.

Repetition and recording

Each experiment was completed 10 times total using 5 different Adult Blacklegged ticks for each experiment.

Consistent conditions

Our research was conducted at the time-of-day ticks are most active and with a control temperature.

score card
We created a scoring sheet that directly relates to the behavior of ticks.

The more the ticks would touch and walk onto the treated areas of the vertical test strips, the higher the score.

Vertical Test Graphic

If ticks crossed completely over the top untreated area, they were removed from testing. This type of scoring was also conducted by Carroll et al. 2010.

Analyzing the results

Results are analyzed based on total touches and crossovers to the treated area.
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Higher Scores indicate ticks’ attractiveness to the scent = BAD
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Lower Scores indicate tick repellency = GOOD
We compared our product to common ingredients used in the current market as well as common competitors.

Other competitors were tested and scored, but based on the results and the similarity in formulas to these competitors, we have excluded them from this presentation to avoid overwhelming individuals.

design graphic
We used two controls (water and no treatment) to ensure the ticks activity was high.

We tested over 100s of various components and products. We selected these components for further testing based on preliminary results of potential success with repelling ticks.