Ticks are irritating creatures that feed on blood of humans or animals and throughout the world, types of ticks reach about more than 850. Most of which can cause skin conditions and some infections. In fact, in the United States, they are among the leading carriers of disease which include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, encephalitis, babesiosis and relapsing fever. All these start as a reaction to a bite where the transfer of tick saliva transmits microorganisms that cause the illness.
There are two tick families, the hard ticks (Ixodidae) and the soft ticks (Argasidae) and both are blood suckers.
By its name alone, it is apparent that these ticks are covered in tougher dorsal. The most common types of ticks under this family are the Brown dog tick and the American dog tick. Most hard ticks can survive long periods of hunger yet are capable of laying thousands of eggs. Some species have only one life cycle while some go through the typical larvae, nymph and adult stage.
The soft ticks are not as widespread as the hard ticks perhaps because they only lay a significantly smaller number of eggs. They don’t linger on a host as they feed only now and then. Many kinds of ost species of soft ticks frequent an animal’s ear area hence the most common known soft tick is the Spinose Ear tick.
Contrary to what most people believe they are, ticks are not insects but are arthropods just like the spiders.
Commonly Encountered Types of Ticks
Black-legged tick or Deer tick (Ixodes Scapularis)
Known to be the carrier of Lyme disease, majority of this type is found in deciduous forest; so-called because its major host is the white-tailed deer. Its life cycle takes about 2 years and the adult tick appears with a black head and black dorsal shield.
Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum)
This type has to reach its nymph and adult stage before it can transmit the disease agents that can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Monocytic Ehrlichiosis and Stari borreliosis but are very insistent biters at any stage. Its distinguishing mark is the white star-like dot on its back. They are mostly found in areas with thick undergrowth. Among the types of ticks present in the United States, the Lone Star tick is notorious for seeking out its prey, humans or animals, when in need of food.
Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni)
This tick type is mostly found in open grasslands and along trails making it dangerous for hikers. At any stage, they are capable of passing on the virus that can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and Rickettsia and cause paralysis in both humans and animals.
American Dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
Most ticks stay in wooded areas but not this type. It can be found in areas that have less or no tree cover at all. Its appearance is similar to the Rocky Mountain ticks and causes the same illnesses plus Tularemia. They can stay alive up to 2 years without a host.
Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
In the types of ticks there are, the Brown dog tick is probably the most widely distributed as they can be found world-wide. At any stage, they can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Rickettsia, canine ehrlichiosis and canine babesiosis to dogs mostly as they very rarely attach themselves to humans.
When a tick attaches itself to its host for feeding and is discovered, it is advised to keep the tick in a jar for proper clinical identification. Those mentioned above are the most common ticks known to most people. However, there are other types that exist such as the Gold Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum) which is very similar to the American dog tick but with longer parts of the mouth. Other types of ticks include the Pacific Coast tick (Dermacentor occidentalis), Western Black-legged (Ixodes pacificus) also known as Bear tick, the European wood tick (Ixodes ricinus) or known as Sheep tick and the Cayenne tick (Amblyomma cajennense).
While ticks are without wings, they have an uncanny way of making their way to their target so that they can suck the blood out of their host. They go for birds, cattle, rabbits and many other warm-blooded animals but probably, their favorite is the dog. Therefore, all dog lovers living in tick-prone areas must keep a close look on their pets especially if they are allowed to run freely outside.
All types of ticks can cause some kind of nuisance because they are parasites that rely on hosts for their continued existence. What is worse about that is they can cause further harm being carriers of germs that could result to the above-mentioned tick-borne diseases. That is why it pays to be always on your guard where ticks are concerned.