- Ticks are arachnids, related to spiders, mites, and chiggers.
- Ticks have 8 legs, except the larvae have 6.
- Ticks feed on the blood of animals and humans.
- An adult female drops off and lays several thousand eggs.
- Tick larvae hatch in late spring or summer.
- Tick nymphs emerge in spring.
- Adults are active year-round, even in winter.
- Some adults are active even when it’s below freezing.
Four Developmental Stages of a Tick
- Depending on temperature, humidity and other environmental factors, eggs will hatch in two weeks to several months after being laid.
Larvae (Seed Ticks)
- Have six legs and the sexes are indistinguishable
- Difficulty finding and attaching to a host can cause prolonged fasts.
- A large percentage of tick larvae die of starvation.
- Some climb onto vegetation, waiting for a small rodent to pass by.
- Some actively seek a vertebrate host, being guided by the sent of the animal.
- After a single blood meal, the engorged larvae usually drop to the soil and molt to the eight-legged nymph stage.
- The larvae of one-host ticks remain on the host to molt.
- Have eight legs like an adult, but lacks a genital opening.
- After molting, the nymph must wait until a suitable host comes by.
- After feeding on a host, the nymph drops off, molts and becoming an adult.
- Nymphs may rest for long periods before becoming adults
- When a tick moves from host to host, it risks it’s survival to find another host.
- Some ticks, like the cattle tick, are one-host ticks and remain on a single host during their entire life-cycle.
- Multiple host ticks survive because of their great reproductive capacity and their ability to survive for long periods without food.
- Hard Ticks
- Some species live less than a year, while other species can live up to three years or more.
- Molt one time and then become adults (1 nymphal instar)
- Soft Ticks: May molt several times before becoming adults (Multiple nymphal instars)
- Sex is only distinguishable as an adult.
- Female hard ticks have a small scutum(central thorax plate) compared to males.
- Soft ticks are distinguished by the shape of their genital openings, located between the second pair of legs.
- Male genital openings are almost circular
- Female genital openings are oval and definitely broader than long
- Unlike mosquitoes, both male and female ticks are blood suckers, and both require several days of feeding before copulation.
- Male ticks copulate with one or more females after engorgement and then dies.
- Female ticks drop to the ground after copulation, and after a few days for the eggs to mature, lays her eggs (hundreds to thousands).
- Female hard ticks die a few days after laying eggs, while soft ticks may lay several batches of eggs, feeding between each batch (20-50 per batch).