TICKS

Ticks are parasitic arachnids. They are one of the species that make up a superorder known as parasitiformes. Ticks are of two major types- hard and soft. These insects also have varying species including very common ones like:

  • American dog tick
  • Lone star tick

APPEARANCE

Ticks look similar to spiders especially since both have four pairs of legs. The main difference is the egg shape of a tick’s body. These insects’ bodies range from 1 to 10 millimeters in length. 

Ticks usually have a whitish body but after a blood meal, it appears much darker. 

REPRODUCTION

Just like many other insects, ticks reproduce by laying eggs. All ticks reproduce sexually. A female tick mates with male ticks which eat her eggs. After the eggs have been fertilized the female tick proceeds to lay eggs. After some time these eggs hatch and 6-legged tick larvae emerge. The larvae moult and eventually become nymphs with eight legs.

This is the basic Reproduction method but hard ticks and soft ticks go about it in different ways.

HARD TICKS: Members of this groupmate, on their hosts. After the eggs have been released the female hard ticks take a blood meal. She then exits to lay her eggs in a suitable area.

SOFT TICKS: Unlike hard ticks, soft ticks do not mate on their hosts. After mating occurs in a suitable are the soft tick finds

DISEASES

While most ticks do not bite so do. These bites are quite harmful. This is because ticks usually transmit microbes to the bitten individual. 

The symptoms begin to show up in the individual in a matter of days after the bite occurs. These symptoms are not constant as they depend on whichever microbe was the victim was exposed to.

The diseases that can be transmitted by ticks are as follows :

  • Lyme disease 
  • Tularemia
  • Colorado tick fever
  • Babesiosis

FEEDING

One of the major food sources for ticks is blood. For this, they are not picky as they need blood meals. Without blood meals after a particular period ticks are unable to survive.

Hard ticks feed on the host’s blood for a white but soft ticks wrap up within minutes.

MOVEMENT

Ticks are unable to fly or even jump so you might wonder how they manage to get attached to a host animal. Well, they achieve this by holding on to leaves or other plant parts with their last two pairs of legs while outstretching the first pair. The action is none as questing. When a host comes near they grab on as fast as possible and stay attached if successful.

CONTROL

If you notice a tick infestation then you should get rid of it as soon as possible. You can start by vacuuming the ticks from any areas that you find them. Make sure the vacuum bag is tightly sealed and dispose of it far away from home. You can also use pesticides to get rid of any ticks.