Tick is the common name for the small arachnids that, along with mites, constitute the order Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians.

Ticks are important vectors of a number of diseases.

Three-month-old kitten with tick damage visable on the neck The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus Latreille, is unusual among ticks, in that it can complete its entire life cycle indoors. Because of this, it can establish populations in colder climates, and has been found in much of the world. Many tick species can be carried indoors on animals, but cannot complete their entire life cycle inside. Although R. sanguineus will feed on a wide variety of mammals, dogs are the preferred host and appear to be required to develop large infestations.

Infestations in houses can explode to very high levels quickly. Typically, a few ticks are brought into the house or kennel, often on a dog which has been away from home. The early stages of the infestation, when only a few individuals are present, are often missed completely. The first indication the dog owner has that there is a problem is when they start noticing ticks crawling up the walls or curtains!

more information on Wikipedia: Ticks

Frequently Asked Questions about Ticks

What are the Ticks?

Ticks are in the phylum of animals called Arthropoda (jointed appendage). This phylum of animals is the largest in the animal kingdom. There are over 850 different species of ticks, and they parasitize every class of terrestrial vertebrate animal, including amphibians.

Ticks are small rounded arachnids that cling to one spot and do not move. They have inserted their head under the skin and are engorging themselves on the blood. Diseases carried by ticks means that you should have yourself or your pets checked after you find ticks. On the one hand, ticks are a little easier to deal with since they remain outdoors, and do not infest houses the way fleas do; on the other hand, they carry more dangerous diseases and are harder to find.

What does Ticks’ produce?

Ticks are the most important arthropod in transmitting diseases to domestic animals and run a close second to mosquitoes in arthropod borne human diseases. They transmit a greater variety of infectious agents than any other type of arthropod. Ticks can cause disease and illness directly. They are responsible for anemia due to blood loss, dermatosis due to salivary secretions, and ascending tick paralysis due to neurotoxins in the salivary secretions. They also can be the vector of other diseases.

What kind of Ticks exists?

There are two basic types of ticks. Soft ticks, the argasids, are distinguished by their soft, leathery cuticle and lack of scutum. They can be recognized easily by their subterminal mouthparts that are on the underside of the tick. Soft ticks when engorged with blood blow up like a balloon. Soft ticks are fast feeders, being able to tank up in a matter of hours.

Hard ticks, the Ixodids, have a hard plate on the dorsal surface and have terminal mouthparts. When attaching, a tick will slice open the skin with the mouthparts and then attach itself. They also secrete a cement that hardens and holds the tick onto the host. Hard ticks are slow feeders, taking several days to finish their bloodmeal.

During feeding a tick may extract up to 8 ml of blood, they can take 100X their body weight in blood. Interestingly, they concentrate the blood during feeding and will return much of the water to the host while losing some by transpiration through the cuticle.

What is the lifesyle of the Ticks?

All ticks have four life cycle stages. Adult ticks, produce eggs. A female tick can produce up to 20,000 eggs. Mating usually occurs on a host, after which the female must have a blood meal in order for the eggs to develop. Ixodid ticks are unusual in that mating does not occur on the host. The eggs are laid in the soil or leaf litter after the female drops off the host. These eggs hatch into a stage known as the larva. The larva is the smallest stage and can be recognized by having only 3 pairs of legs. These “seed ticks” are produced in great numbers. They must find a host and take a blood meal in order to molt to the next stage called the nymph. If the nymph can feed on a host, it will develop into the adult tick.

Ticks vary greatly in how long this cycle takes and the number of hosts involved. Some ticks are one host ticks; the entire cycle occurs on that one host. Others use two hosts, some three and some of the soft ticks are multi-host ticks.

Ticks require high humidity and moderate temperature. Juvenile ticks usually live in the soil or at ground level. They will then climb up onto a blade of grass or the leaf of a plant to await a potential host. They will sense the presence of a host and begin the questing behavior, standing up and waving their front legs. They are able to sense a vibration, a shadow, a change in CO2 level, or temperature change. When unsuccessful in their “quest” they become dehydrated and will climb back down the plant to the ground to become rehydrated. Then back up the plant, etc., until they are successful or they die. Some ticks have been known to live for over 20 years and they can live for a very long time without food. Their favored habitat is old field-forest ecozone. One way to cut down the number of ticks is to keep the area mowed.

How to remove a Tick?

When you find a tick, use tweezers to pick up the body and pull s-l-o-w-l-y and gently, and the mouthparts will release. You should see a small crator in your dog’s skin, if you see what looks like black lines, you’ve left the head of the tick in. At this point, if your dog is mellow enough, you should try and pick it out. Otherwise, you may need to take your pet into the vet, as the head parts will lead to an infection. Ticks carry a lot of rickettsial diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, so you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling a tick. Some veterinarians will put on gloves, smear one finger with a bit of mineral oil and massage the protruding part of the tick for a minute or so. The tick will back out. Tips:

  • Don’t use any of the folklore remedies (matches, cigarettes, pins, gasoline) that will irritate the tick. They increase the likelihood that the tick will “spit up” in you, which increases the risk of disease.
  • Oil is not effective because the breathing requirements of the tick are so small it could last hours covered with oil.
  • The mouthpiece is barbed rather than spiralled, so trying to rotate the tick out doesn’t provide any advantage.
  • The preferred method is to use special tweezers designed for that purpose, and pull straight out.

Lyme disease is usually carried by tiny deer ticks (two other kinds of ticks have also been identified as carriers) , which are the size of the head of a pin. You must look yourself or your pet over very carefully to find these kind of ticks. Other ticks can be as large as peppercorns. This can vary depending on whether or not the tick has yet engorged itself — the deer tick can be as large as the more familiar Dog Tick if it has had time to feed. So if you are in doubt, preserve the tick in rubbing alcohol and have your vet take a look at it.

How to dispose of ticks?

To dispose of the tick, drop it into alcohol to kill it, then dispose of it. Flushing them down the toilet WILL NOT KILL THEM. Squishing them with a thumbnail is not recommended, and is not easy anyway. You might save the tick in a jar of alcohol for identification, to help decide whether possible infection has occurred.

Where you pick up ticks?

Adult ticks can remain on deer and other mammals through the fall and winter. If you spend a lot of time outdoors during this period, be sure to check yourself, your family and your pets daily for ticks. If you hunt or trap, check areas where you cache your game for ticks that may have fallen off during handling.

A helpful practice is to wear long pants tucked into white socks; this way they crawl up the *outside* of your pants and you can spot them in the field. Also wear a hat: they can drop from trees onto your head.

Ticks like long grass on the edges of woods (especially deer ticks) They crawl up onto the grass blades and cling to you as you walk past.

If you comb your pet with a wide tooth flea comb right after taking a walk, chances are you will find unattached ticks crawling around.

Ticks don’t attach themselves right away: they look around for good real estate. It’s much easier to remove ticks before they attach, and easier to remove newly attached ticks than ones that have been feeding for a while.