Ticks are blood-feeding parasites that are often found in tall grass where they wait to attach to a passing host, whether it be an animal or a human. A tick will attach itself to its host by inserting its cutting mandibles and feeding tube into the skin. The feeding tube is covered with recurved teeth and acts as an anchor.
Ticks are vectors of a number of diseases, including but not limited to Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever and tick-borne meningoencephalitis.
Harbacked ticks of concern include the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), Pacific Coast tick (Dermacentor occidentalis), western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) and brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).
Adult ticks have eight legs and appear flattened or compressed in the unfed state. The body color of unfed ticks varies from reddish browns to nearly black. The weight of the engorged female tick may be as much as 200-250 times the unfed weight, and the color of the distended females may change to shades of brown or gray.
Physical contact is not the only method of transportation for ticks. Some species stalk the host from ground level, emerging from cracks or crevices located in the woods or even inside a home or kennel, where infestations of "seed ticks" can attack in numbers up to 30,000 at a time.
Weak or elderly dogs, puppies, and cats are especially endangered and can die as a result of anemia from a sudden influx of seed ticks. Seed ticks also attack horses, cattle, moose, lions and other mammals, causing anemia, paralysis and even death. Such infestations can be difficult to detect until thousands have attached themselves to an animal and eradication can be very difficult.
A 2006 study by Penn State's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics indicated that reducing the deer population in small areas may lead to higher tick densities, resulting in more tick-borne infections in rodents leading to a high prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis.
Changes in temperature and day length are some of the factors signalling a tick to seek a host. Ticks can detect heat emitted from a nearby host and they will generally drop off the host animal when they are full, but this may take several days. In some cases ticks will live for some time on the blood of an animal. Ticks are more active outdoors in warmer weather, but can attack a host at any time throughout the year.
Ticks can be found in most wooded or forested regions throughout the world. They are especially common in areas where there are deer trails and/or human tracks. Ticks are especially prevalent near water, where warm-blooded animals come to drink, and in meadows where shrubs and brush provide woody surfaces and cover.
Mature ticks are harder to see. Frequent grooming and chemicals for control may control the spread of seed ticks and adults
Ticks can be found year-round, but are most visible in the warm summer months. They feed on blood, so they are continually looking for a host to latch onto for a meal. When hosts cannot be found, a tick can go for months, sometimes more than a year, without feeding.
Ticks go from egg to adult in different stages depending on what kind of tick it is. Some ticks only have a couple of stages, while others go through as many as eight stages. The length of time it takes to go through the stages varies as well, and that partly depends on factors such as temperature, humidity, availability of food, etc. A young tick (of any kind) will have six legs, but an adult tick will have eight, and in general, there are two main kinds of ticks; the hard and soft varieties.
It is necessary for a female tick to have a blood meal before she can lay eggs. After feeding, she will usually drop off of the host to lay her eggs. The number of eggs will vary, but some ticks can lay up to ten thousand eggs at one time.
Ticks can carry a number of diseases that can be transferred to humans. Because they suck blood from both animals and humans, they can easily pick up diseases from one host and pass it on to the next. Some diseases humans can get from ticks include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Q Fever, Tularemia, Tick Paralysis and Meningoencephalitis.
Ticks often have a certain host that they prefer to latch onto. For this reason, they are often given names like Deer Tick, Cat Tick, American Dog Tick, Bat Tick, Bird Tick, etc. However, it is important to understand that once a tick loses a particular host, it will try to find another before long. Even though they may prefer one type of host, they will feed on anything with blood in it.
Animals that live in your home, like dogs and cats, can easily bring ticks into your house. After feeding for a couple of days, the ticks will drop off of the host and lay eggs. They look for tiny crevices to store their eggs, which means that you could soon have a large infestation of ticks in your home. Getting rid of a tick infestation takes time because eggs can hatch months later, long after you think you have the situation under control.
If you have a tick problem, call us. Our experience and expertise will enable us to once again make your home a safe place for you and your pets.