10 Fascinating Facts about Ticks
Most people think of ticks as bloodsucking creepy crawlies that spread Lyme disease, but there is so much more to the small creatures than that.
Below, we outline some lesser-known facts about ticks.
Ticks are arachnids
Ticks aren’t actually insects, as many people believe. They are actually arachnids which means they are related to scorpions and spiders. If you take a closer look at their bodies, you will quickly see that they have 8 legs, a head, and a body whereas insects have 6 legs and 3 body segments.
Ticks are daredevils
Ticks are known to take risks in order to attach themselves to a host. The little 8 legged creatures don’t have the ability to fly or jump, so they rely on their falling and crawling talents. When looking for a host, a tick will find a place to sit (usually on the tip of a grass blade or high atop branches), and once they have a complete view of its host, it will use its front legs to grab onto the host as it passes by. However, if the host is too small to grab onto, a tick will freefall off its perch in order to attach itself. Quite the risk-takers!
Ticks dine on blood
Ticks feast on the blood of other animals in order to survive but different species of ticks prefer different hosts. Deer ticks, as their name suggests, are whitetail deer while dog ticks prefer, well, dogs. Other species are not so specific in their taste and will feast on a variety of hosts in their lifetime. The bottom line is that most species of ticks will feed on whatever they can get their legs on!
Ticks have a dining process
Ticks are incredibly meticulous when it comes to eating and once it lands (or falls) onto their host, they will begin searching for the perfect dining area. Ticks usually gravitate towards warm, hairy, or moist regions, and once settling on the chosen location, the tiny arachnid will begin prepping the skin for dining. This can take up to 2 hours! Once the area is prepped, the tick will burrow its barbed teeth into the area and release its saliva which contains anesthetic properties. This numbs the skin so that the host isn’t able to feel the bite. A tick can feed on a host for 2 to 14 days, depending on the species, and once fed, it can live upward of 200 days without having to feed again!
Ticks carry diseases
There are over 900 species of ticks worldwide and 90 species live in the United States. These species all have the ability to contract and spread human diseases. The most common tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis. This may sound shocking, but wait until the next fact!
Ticks can give you a meat allergy
This is one of the most bizarre facts about ticks! Alpha-gal syndrome is an illness that is spread by lone star ticks and it only affects humans. This happens when a lone star tick transmits an Alpha-gal sugar molecule into a host during its feeding process. Some people react severely to this tiny molecule which prompts an immune response that results in a red meat allergy. Who would have thought?
Female ticks grow when they feast
Female ticks are glutenous and when they consume too much blood, they become engorged. Their ultimate goal is to consume enough blood to sustain them through the egg-production process, after which, they die. This feeding process depends on the host, and some female ticks can increase their weight by over 100 times and double in size in one feeding.
Ticks don’t always spread disease
If a tick is carrying multiple diseases, it can spread all of them to the host but although ticks are known for carrying diseases, they don’t always pass the disease on. In fact, Lyme disease is only spread to 1% to 3% of people who have been bitten by an infected tick. But there is some bad news, according to the CDC, tick-borne diseases have doubled in the last 13 years.
Ticks are active year-round
Many people believe ticks to only be active in the summertime however if the weather is above freezing, they can be active all year. They do prefer moist and warm conditions and this is why they mostly appear active in the spring and summer months.
DIY tick-removal doesn’t do the trick
There are many home tick removal methods, but they are mostly ineffective. This is because these remedies are designed to suffocate the tick, which is pointless as ticks can survive for long periods without air. Burning ticks is another common removal method, but this is just simply dangerous. The best way to remove ticks is with tweezers. Simply use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull the bloodsucker out – never twist. Through this simple procedure, the tick will be fully removed. In some cases, the head may detach from the body and stay embedded in the skin. If this happens, the tick is dead and is no longer able to spread the disease. It may cause irritation but in time, it will fall out.
Ticks are creepy little creatures but these facts will help you prepare for any tick activity in your business or home. When it comes to ticks, it’s always important to play it safe and take preventive measures. Take a look at our blog that outlines how you can identify ticks in pets or children.
If you have any questions or think you may have a tick problem, contact the Twin-Boro experts today.