Great Arizona Tick Check
Help create an accurate map of tick species in Arizona and the diseases they carry! Join the Great Arizona Tick Check effort by learning how to spot ticks, safely remove them, and how to send them to University of Arizona researchers.
Ticks are small, blood-sucking critters related to spiders. Like mosquitoes, they can transmit diseases when they bite humans or animals.
Hard ticks have four life stages (egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult) and need to feed on blood at each stage. Nymphs or adult ticks are the easiest to find as they are bigger and feed longer.
Here in Arizona, the most common tick is the Brown Dog Tick. They can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a serious illness marked by a fever and rash. However, ticks are moving into new areas and tick-borne disease cases are increasing in Arizona and nationwide.
How to Find Ticks
Ticks usually choose warm, hidden spots to attach and start feeding. On dogs and other animals, look around the head (especially in ears), neck, back and between the toe pads. Ticks can be found anywhere on humans but often like feeding in spots covered by hair.
Safely Removing a Tick
Don't panic if you find a tick. It's an icky situation but not an emergency. Just remove it as soon as you can following CDC instructions for removing a tick.
- Use fine tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as you can.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick as you want to keep it in one piece.
- If using your fingers, avoid squishing the tick. Pull upward with steady, even pressure.
- If sending it to the Great Arizona Tick Check, put the tick in a small, sealed bag or container.
- After removing the tick, clean the area with soap and water. Also clean the tweezers and have everyone wash their hands.
Sending Ticks to the Research Team
After removing the tick, put it in a small, sealed bag or container. Write the following information on a sheet of paper, putting it and the bagged tick inside another sealed plastic bag.
- Date you collected the tick.
- Location where you removed the tick including the city, town, and zip code. Providing the specific address is optional.
- Travel history (previous two weeks) of the person or animal you removed the tick from. Make sure to say if the person or animal was in a different state or county within the past two weeks.
- Host you removed the tick from (human, dog, cat , horse, etc.). If you found a tick not attached to a host, you can write 'free-living' and where you found it (inside home, in grass, side of building, etc.)
- Your contact information is optional. However, if you would like us to provide you with tick identification information, include your name, email address, cell phone, or mailing address. We also text the tick for disease, but those results take longer than identification.
- We recommend but don't require freezing the double-bagged tick for one or two days before mailing it to us.
Mail your ticks to:
Dr. Kathleen Walker
P.O. Box 210036 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721
*Do not wait for test results if the person or animal bitten by the tick develops a fever or rash within two to three weeks. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and let medical personnel know about the tick bite.
The Great Arizona Tick Check
Fueled by a nearly $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Great Arizona Tick Check is a collaboration between the UArizona Cooperative Extension, the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services. The effort will help researchers at the University of Arizona build the first-ever database of tick distribution and correlated diseases in Arizona.
As part of the grant, the research team will work with Arizona communities most impacted by tick-borne diseases to provide education and prevention workshops. This includes sharing information with specific counties and rural communities if Rocky Mountain spotted fever is present or potentially an issue in the area.
Learn More About Ticks
- Brown dog ticks and rocky mountain spotted fever brochure
- Garrapatas marrones del perro y las enferemedades por rickettsias en la población
- Extension Publication az1769 - The Brown Dog Tick and Epidemic Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Arizona and northwestern Mexico