HOW TO IDENTIFY TICKS


Tick Waiting On Grass Blade-CentralMA-USA

Tick, on a blade of grass, forelegs extended hopefully to grab some passer-by. By Mcvoorhis [CC BY-SA 3.0].

Appearance

Ticks are small creatures found all over the world, especially in places with warm and humid climate.

They can be brown or reddish black in color; their color changes according to their sex and their stage of life.

They can be seen in varying sizes from 0.5 mm to 2.5 mm from larva to adult, though a female adult tick can grow to the size of 11mm.

Behavior

Ticks are parasites who feed on mammals and birds. In very rare cases, they feed on reptiles and amphibians as well. Ticks feed on their hosts for blood which helps them in survival and development in different stages of their life cycle. 

In the unfavorable conditions, ticks can go a long time without feeding, but if they fail to find a host in the long run, it can lead to their death. They look for their hosts through their body odor, breath, and body warmth.

Signs

The bites of ticks are often painless which makes it harder to notice their presence, but it can still be seen by examining the dark and humid areas, body parts, and pet’s skin especially ears. 

A tick bite can have several reactions including rashes, fever, weakness, shivering, lethargy, and fatigue. If you or your pet notice any of such symptoms out of the blue, then you might have a tick infestation in your house.

HOW DO YOU GET TICKS


Amblyomma americanum tick (Lone star tick)

Lone star tick. By CDC (US Centers for Disease Control – Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases).

Ticks are known to be found in the warm and humid climate which makes April to September their favorite months to feed. Ticks are wingless nor can they jump that good, but they are runners and walkers.

Different species of ticks have different ways of targeting their hosts. Some ticks find their hosts with their senses and then walk and run towards it to attach themselves to its body. 

Others crawl and climb the trees and plants to find their host through direct contact. Some ticks climb up to the knee height to target cats, dogs or any other animals, whereas the others climb up only 2-3 inch to target mouse and rodents.

It means that if you spend your summer evenings in a place surrounded by trees and plants, then you have a good chance of getting ticks on yourself. If the ticks find their way inside your house, then they can also spread to you from the carpet, rugs, and bed sheets.

HOW DO YOU GET RID OF TICKS


Reorganize your house– This is the first and foremost step to get rid of the fleas. While reorganizing the house, you need to make sure that you do not leave a single table unturned and clean each and everything properly.

Hot water wash– You should put your clothes in hot water so that if there are any ticks on them they will be removed and killed.

Organic pesticide– After cleaning the house and washing the clothes, you should spray some organic pesticide to get rid of all the hidden ticks.

Treat your pests– If you suspect a tick infestation then you should always make sure to check yourself and your pets for ticks. If you find it then you should remove it either on your own or with some help from a professional.

Call pest control– If you follow all these steps and still notice a continuity in tick infestation then you should take help from the pest exterminators to get rid of ticks once and for all.


Life Cycle of Ticks


Deer tick life cycle

A. Female adults lay 1,500 eggs in the spring B. Eggs hatch C. Larva feed on smaller mammals D. Larva grow to Nymphs and the Nymphs feed on larger mammals including people E. Larva become adults and feed on large mammals. (Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The four stages of the life cycle of fleas are:

Egg

The life of a tick begins as an egg. This is the first stage of a tick’s lifecycle. The eggs are laid on either the host or the ground, depending on the species of tick.

Larva

A six-legged larva emerges from the egg after hatching. The larva is too weak to feed on potential hosts so it waits for a small host like a lizard and attaches itself to it.

After getting attached to the host, it starts to feed on it and it grows in size. After the feeding process is done,  the larva starts to shed its skin to move to the next stage.

Nymph

After shedding the skin in larva stage, the tick grows in size and transforms into a nymph. In this stage, it feeds on a little bigger hosts like a raccoon. Then when it feeds itself properly, it leaves the host again start shedding the skin.

Adult

After transforming into an adult the tick starts feeding on the largest hosts i.e. humans, dogs, etc. They feed on them and then start to reproduce. After reproduction, the male dies in many species, whereas the female dies after laying eggs.


Purpose of Ticks in Ecosystem


Like every creature involved in the food chain, ticks also serve the purpose of taking and providing nutrients from one source to the other.

Ticks are devoured by mites and provide them the required nutrients then the mites are further devoured by the birds. It shows the involvement of ticks in the food chain, hence exhibiting their nature.


Tick Facts


  • They are arachnids– Ticks are arachnids and not insects which means that they share a closer classification with spiders rather than flies and mosquitoes.
  • The feeds last long– Unlike how some insects feed and quickly leave the host, ticks take their time in choosing the preferable host and then the feeding might even last to 2-3 days. As their bite is painless and they’re too small, they can go unnoticed.
  • Carry multiple diseases– As we know that ticks can feed on different hosts throughout the completion of their lifecycle, they can carry and even transmit multiple diseases at a time.

Types of Ticks

Brown Dog Tick

Brown dog tick_Rhipicephalus_sanguineus

Deer Tick

Deer Tick

Lone Star Tick

Lone star tick

Moose Tick

Moose tick, winter tick

Seed Tick

Wood Tick

tick on carpet