Ticks are relatives of spiders, scorpions, and mites. As such, their survival is dependent on a host (i.e., they're parasites). Specifically, ticks feed on an animal's blood or body fluids. The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis in the East & Midwest, and Ixodes pacificus in the West) goes through many stages during its lifecycle, and feeds on different species at each point.
Ticks begin as eggs (stage 1) that hatch into 6-legged larvae (stage 2).
Larvae live and feed on animals (mice, deer, squirrels, livestock, and any humans who enter the tick habitat) for about a week before detaching then molting (shedding) anywhere from 1 week to 8 months later.
The larvae then become 8-legged nymphs (stage 3). Nymphs feed on animals, engorge for 3 to 11 days, detach, and molt about a month later (depending on the species and environmental conditions).
Once the nymph molts, it becomes an adult tick (male or female). Ticks climb up grass and plants and hold their legs up "sensing" and "looking" for their prey. Ticks are attracted to their hosts by detecting carbon dioxide and heat through special organs located on the first pair of the tick's legs (Haller's organs). When a warm-blooded animal walks past, the tick can crawl onto them and begins feeding. Ticks insert their mouths, attach to their prey, and engorge themselves with a blood meal (stage 4). During feeding, tick saliva can get into the host's body and blood stream. Any tick infected with Borrelia burgdorferi can then inadvertently spread this bacteria to the host.
Male and female ticks usually mate while attached to the host. A few weeks later, the engorged female detaches from the host and lays her eggs (1000 - 8000 eggs) on a leaf. A tick usually lives a year before dying.
(L to R) larva, nymph, adult male, adult female, engorged female
Common Name: Tick - Rhipicephalus ticks
Latin Name: Rhipicephalus sanguineus
Common Family Name: Hard ticks
Latin Family Name: Ixodidae
Other Names: Brown dog tick, kennel tick
Origin: Apparently this tick is native to North America, and it occurs most often in states with warm climates. It also occurs into Latin America in the tropical and subtropical areas.
Biology: The brown dog tick is a common pest of dogs, but possibly does not attack humans at all. However, it can be a serious nuisance in the home when pets are infested. It is potentially a vector of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Hard ticks in general have a two year life cycle, with eggs hatching to the 6-legged larva in the spring, these progressing to the second instar nymph stage which overwinters, and these progressing the following year to the adult tick. There is usually a single blood meal at each stage, with the tick remaining attached for several days to over a week. After fertilization by the male, and a blood meal, the female hard tick produces a single batch of up to several thousand eggs, and then she dies. These eggs are usually placed into a secluded crevice of some sort, and this may be within a structure. The engorged, gravid female becomes bloated to many times her original size.
Identification: The brown dog tick is very similar to a number of other species of hard ticks in the genus Dermacentor. Adults are about 3 mm long, flattened top to bottom, and are much wider at the posterior end than the front. There are tiny pits scattered over the top of the body, and the color is a somewhat uniform reddish brown. With high magnification several other key characters distinguish this tick. By the anal opening on the underside of the abdomen there is a small “anal groove” just behind the anus which is absent in Dermacentor ticks. In addition, the body plate directly behind the mouthparts, the “basis capituli”, has pointed expansions on each side on Rhipicephalus.
Characteristics Important in Control: Tick control begins with prevention, by helping people understand what ticks look like, how to inspect for them, and how to remove them when found on clothing or the body. The use of repellents, light colored clothing, and frequent inspection when in tick infested habitats are important. Pets should be carefully inspected as well after activity in potential tick habitat. For tick infestations within a structure careful applications of a residual pyrethroid to cracks and crevices that may harbor the ticks or their egg masses may be needed, and outdoors applications to turf and foliage around the perimeter of a property will kill ticks that are close to this urban environment.
For your convenience and immediate attention, call 480.266.5159