Summer sure brings a lot of busy, doesn't it? I love the busy summer because I can romp with the girls in the yard or go on hikes with mom or ride on the motorcycle to new and fun places.
Summer brings some unfun things, too, like bugs. I spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer, and even with flea and tick medication faithfully administered, sometimes pesky things are pesky regardless.
While we were out enjoying summer the other week, we were invaded by a herd of ticks. It was actually funny to see the 2-leggers scratching their hind legs like I do, but they didn't seem too amused by the fact that bugs were crawling all over them. I guess with the lack of full body hair, it would be a creepy crawly feeling.
Fortunately, the family researched to find out they weren't ticks at all, but a tick impersonator called a billbug. They are completely harmless, and neither suck your blood nor give you diseases. This is good, because blood suckers that share diseases are bad.
This is a billbug.
You'll see the similarity to a tick, and why the confusion. And ensuing panic. (The humans did that part. I did not. I was rather oblivious to the whole thing and kind of enjoyed mom petting me all over every 10 minutes to check for more bugs.)
There are some ways you can tell if a black bug is a tick or a billbug.
1. Billbugs are social. They travel with friends. Ticks are loners.
2. Billbugs have wings. If you flick that thing away from you, and wings spring out, it's a billbug and not a tick. Ticks do not fly, they simply cling onto things as they pass by.
3. Billbugs are found everywhere, even indoors and on boats in the water. Ticks generally stay in the nature parts, like grass or wooded areas.
4. If you get a really good close look at a billbug, you'll notice that it's legs are positioned more under it's body than on the sides. Provided you actually WANT to get close enough to notice this. But it's a good way to tell.
I have a concern about the billbugs, though, even if they are harmless. I'm thinking that as they spread through the nation like a locust invasion, all the people will get accustomed to seeing them and stop worrying about them being ticks. And then they'll stop worrying about ticks altogether. And then when they see an actual tick, they won't realize that it's an actual tick. And then those blood suckers will spread diseases, and those diseases won't be fun for dogs or their companions.
My suggestion is to wear flea AND TICK prevention all the time. And even then, be sure your human checks you over really well after you've been in the woods (or questionable places). Don't let your guard down. These imposters are probably in cahoots with ticks somehow and want us to do just that.