Many of us have heard the stories of how ticks carry Lyme disease and what to look for to see if we’ve been bitten. But if you’ve asked, “What does a tick look like,” then read on so you’ll recognize these pesky creatures. We’re hoping we can help prevent you from being bitten in the first place by helping you identify ticks.
What Does a Tick Look Like?
Ticks are actually arachnids and are related to spiders, even though they are often referred to as insects. There are more than 25 species in Arizona, with the most common tick found around homes being the brown dog tick.
Ticks have four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva (where it’s known as a “seed tick”), nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage in order to move on to the next stage. Depending on its species, the tick’s body weight may increase by as much as several hundred times after it feeds.
The brown dog seed tick is less than 1/16″ long and has six legs. Nymphs are less than 1/8″ long and have eight legs. The size of the adult tick that has not taken a blood meal are about 1/8″ long. Blood-fed females are about 1/2″ long and have a blue-gray coloration. Adult brown dog ticks are in a kind of teardrop shape with four legs on either side of its body and the front legs close to the head. Its two-part body is leathery and accordion-like and they are reddish-brown in color. Its mouth is made up of a pair of jointed “palps” (used to choose the spot to puncture the skin), a pair of “chelicerae” (which shields the feeding tube), and a barbed feeding tube, or “hypostome”.
The average life cycle for brown dog ticks is two years, though they only feed two or three weeks during that time. The rest of the time, ticks prefer to hide in cracks and crevices inside the home. After a blood meal, an adult female brown dog tick will lay as many 5,000 eggs and then die.
How to Get Rid of Ticks
Getting rid of ticks is “war”. You can do it, but success will require repeat applications. Here are a few simple things you can do now:
- Vacuum both high and low, including curtains. After vacuuming thoroughly, throw away vacuum bag/empty vacuum canister.
- Launder pet bedding frequently, though if pets come indoors and you have ticks, you will need to treat both inside and outside your home.
- Check your pets often to see if a tick has attached itself to your beloved Fido before he comes inside.
Come into any of our Valley-wide locations to get rid of what’s bugging you.