- Ticks are arachnids that have jointed limbs and a hardened exoskeleton.
- All the stages of the lifecycle are blood-feeders. Ticks are not only important for their role as bloodsuckers, but also as vectors for disease (see Lyme disease section).
- They should not be confused with insects. They are wingless parasites with a cephalothorax. Adults and nymphs have 4 pairs of legs but larval ticks only have 3 pairs.
- The lifecycle consists of 4 stages: egg, larva, nymph, adult. Transition is accomplished by moulting of the skin. The entire cycle can be completed in a period as short as 6 weeks or as long as 2 years depending on the species.
- The female tick usually deposits her eggs on the ground. After hatching, the larvae will ascend various grasses and shrubs to come within easy reach of passing hosts.
- Ticks are very hardy and so can survive for long periods (up to 3 years) without food or water.
- Tick bites can result in a painful, slow healing wound at the bite site. Extensive inflammation and irritation may also result. They can also cause a human disease called tick paralysis. This is characterized by incoordination and collapse. Paralysis can occur 6 days after attachment.
How to Control
- Control is fairly difficult.
- Always wear protective clothing and use insect repellents.
- In the case of an infected pet, consult your veterinarian.