Sure, we all know ticks are a nuisance but do really know what they are and what they do. Although small in size, ticks can cause big problems by spreading dangerous diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. So, before heading outdoors this season, check out the following little-known and not-so-fun facts about ticks to learn more about these biting buggers.
Ticks are not insects.
It’s true. Ticks are not insects, although they are often mistaken for them. Ticks are actually classified as arachnids, or relatives of spiders, scorpions, and mites. If you look closely at a tick when identifying it, it kind of resembles a spider with its four pairs of legs and lack of antennae.
They use super glue.
Once they bite, it’s not a good idea to just flick a tick away. In order to stay attached while they feed, many ticks secrete a glue-like substance, known as tick cement, through their feeding tube. A tick’s saliva can also make the pain associated with the bite go unnoticed, allowing it to feed for up to several days.
Ticks are daredevils.
Ticks don’t jump or fly. Instead, they crawl up low brush or grass to find a host. Then, they clasp on with their back legs and reach their front legs out to grab onto a passing animal or human. This process is called questing. Sometimes, they even drop from their perch and free fall onto a passing host. Talk about a risky move!
Ticks are tiny real-life vampires.
Did you know that ticks require a blood meal to survive? That’s right! Ticks require blood for sustenance, just like Dracula. Blacklegged ticks, for example, primarily feed on the blood of white-tailed deer, but they will also bite mice, small wild animals, birds, and humans.
They are dog lovers, too.
Some ticks species, like the American dog tick and brown dog tick, prefer dogs as hosts. Unfortunately, dogs are often easy targets when playing in the yard or going for a walk in wooded areas. If you’re a pet owner, don’t forget to check Fido frequently for ticks. Especially after walks or playtime, and regularly wash bedding and plush toys. If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, be sure to check it regularly for ticks too.
They like to share. (That’s not a good thing.)
Ticks spread diseases, such as Lyme disease, by biting a person or animal infected with a disease, then passing it along to their next host through the tick’s saliva. Ticks need to feed on blood to make it through each phase of life, from egg to larva to nymph to adult. If one of these meals contains a blood-borne pathogen (or disease-causing microbe), the tick can pass it along when it feeds on a new host in their next life stage.
They always bum a ride.
Ticks can intrude on your yard or home by hitching a ride on dogs, cats, mice, deer and other animals (including you). When they detect a passing host, they simply climb aboard. Merely casting a shadow on some ticks can give away your presence. Ticks can also detect animals by their breath, odor, heat, moisture or vibrations caused by their movement. They use chemical warfare.
It’s not you, it’s them.
If you’ve ever been bitten by a tick but didn’t feel it, it’s not because you’re insensitive (no matter what your significant other says). It’s because ticks often inject their hosts with nerve poison. An anesthetic is inserted into their host’s bloodstream, a sort of nerve poison that contains neurotoxins.
Now that you are educated about ticks, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and loved ones from them. First and foremost, perform a tick check every time you return from the outdoors. If you find a tick remove it promptly. The best and safest way to remove a tick is with tweezers. Grab it as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull straight back. Second, consider putting up a tick barrier. Our Tick Shield solution will help reduce the population of ticks in your yard throughout the year. It will be just one less thing you have to think about.