Ticks are often mistaken as ordinary insects by most of us, however they belong to the arachnids specie, which also includes spiders, mites and scorpions. Ticks are parasitic in nature and require a host to live on. Like many parasites, ticks are notorious for transmitting diseases from the carrier host to the receiving host. This host could be your pet or even you.
Therefore, you must have knowledge of how ticks appear and operate, so that you can prevent any damage that these parasites can cause.
Common Notes About Appearance
- There are variations in the color and size of the ticks, depending on the kind of specie, the gender and the age.
- The body color may vary after the tick sucks in the host blood and stores it in its body.
- The ticks grow from a size of about half a millimeter, when they are new born, to about one and a half millimeter, when they mature.
Generally, a mature female tick is larger than a mature male tick. The male tick is about 2.5 milimeters in size. In comparison, the female is about 3 mm in its size, but it can expand to almost 11 millimeters after fully feeding itself on a host.
Ticks come in various colors and sizes, with over 850 different kinds of species across the world. Some ticks have the ability to fly, but most of them are creatures which rely on their hosts for movement. The latter type of ticks stay near plants and wait for any host to come close, before quickly climbing on to its body.
Most of us come in contact with the ‘hard’ ticks. These ticks have specialized backs to protect themselves, termed as scutum, and upon a close look from above, you can easily notice their mouthparts.
Whereas, ‘soft’ ticks do not have the scutum shield on their backs. Instead, they have a more fleshy body, with hidden mouthparts and are generally larger in size. ‘Soft’ ticks can be confirmed through their oblong symmetrical bean shapes and are usually found in rodent caves.
Commonly Found Ticks And Their Appearance
The most prevailing ticks in Northern America include Deer Ticks, Dog Ticks and Lone Star Ticks.
- These ticks usually have an orange-scarlet abdomen and a dark brown scutum. They have dark colored legs, which is how they got their other name ‘black-legged tick’.
- There are only 3 pair of legs during the larvae stage, but another pair is developed during the nymph stage.
- They are not easy to spot during the larvae and nymph stage. In fact they are so small that you probably will never see it, during these stages.
- Female ticks are sometimes able to change colors (yellow to darker shades) after feeding on blood and getting engorged, with the darker color reflecting a greater absorption of blood.
American Dog Ticks
- This type of ticks are usually large in size and have a dark brown body, with white marking on the back. However, these ticks are also difficult to spot during their larvae and nymph stages.
- The adult female size is about 6.35 mm, before feeding. Once engorged, both the size and width of the adult female increase. Meanwhile, the males are smaller in size and do not change as they feed.
- They are born with 6 legs and develop two legs later on, as they grow from the larvae stage to the nymph and adult stages.
Brown Dog Ticks
- Brown dog ticks have adapted themselves to live in human environments and hence are commonly found in the homes.
- They affect dogs and other pets. However, they can also survive in outdoor environments.
- These ticks have an elongated body shape, which makes them easy to spot.
Lone Star Ticks
- They have a brownish color, with the female having a darker tint. These ticks are perhaps the easiest to spot amongst the mentioned types. This is because the adult female has a small white dot / star on its back, while the adult male has white lines over its body instead.
- The shape of these ticks is more circular, which gives them another distinctive feature.
- Like all other ticks, the females are larger in size than the male counterparts. After feeding on a host, the female size increases and the color of its body changes.
- These ticks are often found on humans during their nymph stage.
Many times people let the small size of the ticks fool them, and ignore the potential dangers which accompanies these ticks. As mentioned above, ticks are very efficient carriers of blood-borne diseases. Some of these diseases can be very dangerous for humans. Diseases like the Lyme disease, and a few kinds of diseases can even kill your pets.
If you visited any place which seems like a good tick habitat, you must check your skin and your clothes for any attached insect. If you have any children with you, you should give them special attention. Tick bites are generally painless and go unnoticed.
These parasites prefer warm and moist areas and would often try to reach your arm pits, groin or hair. However, the tick is usually attached with your body, as it takes a lot of time to get fully engorged with the blood, and if you review yourself after coming from outdoors, you can easily spot it.
Ticks may start reproducing in your homes and can adapt to your environment. This can be a huge nuisance, especially if you have pets and children in your house. There are many DIY ways to get rid of ticks. Many manufacturers have created pesticides and sprays to enable you to destroy tick habitats in your house.
Still, if you think that the infestation is beyond your control, you can contact a professional exterminator, who has professional equipment to kill the ticks and destroy their habitats.
You can learn more about how to get rid of ticks on our website by clicking on this link.