If you’re a pet owner, then chances are you’re familiar with ticks. They’re gross-looking pests that like to attach themselves to pets and humans. In the summer, when you spend even more time outdoors with your pets, the bigger the chances are that you take some ticks home with you. Did you know that ticks are found on tall grass or wooded areas where they wait for possible hosts to pass through? You can learn some more interesting facts about ticks by reading below!
Contrary to what most people believe, ticks are not insects. These pests are arachnids, more related to spiders, scorpions, and mites than they are to ants or flies. If you take a closer look at a tick, you’ll see that they have four pairs of legs and no antenna, surprisingly like a spider. To compare, insects have six legs and three body segments. Another interesting characteristic that most arachnids have is that they don’t jump or fly. This is true for ticks as well.
To find food, ticks find a spot to perch on, usually long blades of grass. They hold on to it with their back legs and use their front legs to grab onto a passing host. This is called “questing”. If there’s a host below them, they would simply fall.
The main diet of ticks is blood. Creepy as it sounds, they need to consume the blood of other animals, including humans, to survive. Ticks of different species will have different preferences, such as black-legged ticks who prefer the blood of white-tailed deer, but they will also feast on birds, reptiles, mice, and other small wild animals if needed.
When a tick finds a host to feed on, they take their sweet time for that blood meal. First, they’d look for an ideal spot on the host’s body to feast on, usually in warm, moist, and hairy parts. Then, they start preparing the skin before they eat — a process that can take over two hours. They would then bury their head beneath the host’s skin and release their feeding tube. The tick will then spit out some of its saliva that works as blood thinners, numbs the skin, and is resistant to the human (or other animal’s) immune system.
The pest will stay attached and continue feeding for about 2-3 days, but sometimes they remain latched on for up to 14 days. Females are known to swell up to over double their normal size to prepare for when they will lay eggs.
Many tick species prefer dogs as hosts to other mammals. In the wild, deer are the number one target, but getting ticks on dogs can affect the health of the humans that they live with. Dogs are vulnerable when they play outside in the grass, especially during summer. If you have a dog, make sure to check them regularly for ticks or apply products that kill ticks to also get rid of hard-to-spot larvae. It also helps to always wash their bedding and plush toys.
What makes ticks dangerous is that they can spread potentially fatal diseases. There are over 900 species of ticks worldwide, and a majority can spread Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and for the Lone Star tick, Alpha-gal. Anyone who gets bitten, even pets, can even contract multiple infections from a single tick bite. In the Philippines, some pathogens found in livestock include Anaplasma, Babesia, Mycoplasma spp, and Theileria. It is suspected that they are caused by the Rhipicephalus microplus ticks, locally known as garapata, which are widespread in the country.
It takes 24-48 hours before a tick can transmit a disease to its host, so it’s important to remove it as soon as possible if you are bitten.
These interesting facts about ticks help you be more informed about their life, abilities, and risks. Even people who don’t have pets could be bitten by a tick, so everyone should be wary, especially in the summer.
Using pesticides around your house where you suspect to have ticks could eliminate some of the problems. Pests are difficult to deal with, so if you have infestations of any kind, it’s best to contact professionals. Topbest is the leading pest control solutions provider in the Philippines — we’re the people you can rely on for your pest problems! If you need some help, contact us here and we’ll give you a FREE consultation!