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Ticks

types of ticks

Family Ixodidae

Ticks Facts and Information

Ticks are small arachnids that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They belong to the subclass Acari, which also includes mites. Ticks are divided into two major families: Ixodidae (hard ticks) and Argasidae (soft ticks). 

Ticks are typically small, ranging from about 1mm to 1cm in length, depending on the species and life stage. They have eight legs and are usually brown or black in color, with a flattened, oval body. Ticks are characterized by their mouth-parts, which are designed to pierce the skin of their host and feed on their blood. 

The life cycle of a tick is composed of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The duration of each stage varies among species and is influenced by factors such as temperature and humidity. After hatching from the egg, a tick larva will feed on the blood of a host, molt into a nymph, and then feed again before molting into an adult. Adult ticks then mate and lay eggs, starting the cycle anew. 

Ticks are capable of reproducing quickly and laying thousands of eggs at a time, which can lead to rapid infestations if not addressed promptly. It’s important to take precautions to avoid tick bites, as they can transmit a variety of diseases to humans and animals, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia.

FAQs About Ticks

What are the types of ticks?

There are many different species of ticks, but some of the most common types found in the United States include: 

  • Deer tick or black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) 
  • American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) 
  • Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) 
  • Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) 
  • Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) 
  • Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum) 
  • Western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) 
  • Brown recluse tick (Rhipicephalus pulchellus) 

Each species has its own preferred host, geographic distribution, and disease transmission potential. 

How to remove ticks?

Ticks found on people or pets require careful and thorough removal. If you have concerns resulting from a tick bite, seek medical attention immediately.  

Here are the steps to remove a tick: 

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. 
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. 
  • If the mouth-parts do break off, try to remove them with the tweezers. If you can’t remove them easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal. 
  • After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. 
  • Dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. 

It’s also important to monitor the area for any signs of infection or illness, such as a rash, fever, or flu-like symptoms. If you develop any of these symptoms, contact a healthcare provider.

What are the signs and symptoms of a tick bite?

The signs and symptoms of a tick bite can vary, and not all people experience the same symptoms. However, common signs and symptoms of a tick bite may include: 

  • A small, red bump or rash at the site of the bite, which may develop within a few days to a few weeks after the bite. 
  • Itching, burning, or pain at the site of the bite. 
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. 
  • Swollen lymph nodes near the bite site. 
  • In some cases, a bulls-eye rash, known as erythema migrans, is a distinctive hallmark of Lyme disease. 

It is important to note that not all ticks carry diseases, but some ticks can transmit serious illnesses, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and anaplasmosis. If you develop any of the symptoms above or experience any other concerning symptoms after being bitten by a tick, it is important to seek medical attention.