The Moose Tick
The moose tick most commonly attacks moose, caribou, horses, cattle, deer, and elk, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t your problem as a homeowner or outdoor enthusiast.
These ticks affect moose the worst, causing them to repeatedly groom themselves and rub against trees to scratch the itch. This can disrupt feeding activities and even cause total hair loss on the animals.
In many cases, infected moose do not survive the winter, as they are more susceptible to predators.
HOW TO IDENTIFY MOOSE TICKS
Also known as winter ticks, moose ticks are less than ¼ of an inch long and have a brownish pattern on their backs. This appears somewhat like a speckled or mottled design.
Females are larger than the male, especially when fully engorged. Young ticks will be either six-legged larvae or eight-legged nymphs, both of which are much smaller than adult ticks.
Appearance and Behavior
Unlike other types of ticks, moose ticks have only one host and have a one-year life cycle. These ticks will remain on a host until they drop away and die. Ticks initially hop onto their hosts by crawling atop tall vegetation.
They then feed on the host’s blood and develop, transitioning from larvae to nymphs and then finally to adults. Mating takes place at the end of winter, with the blood-engorged females dropping to the ground to lay their eggs before dying.
Once they’ve fed on a host, female moose ticks lay egg masses that can have as many as 3,000 eggs. These eggs hatch in the spring but are not active until the fall. Because these ticks remain on a host for their entire lives, hundreds of ticks can sometimes be found on a host.