There’s something about ticks that really gets under people’s skin. And we don’t just mean literally – because that is, in essence, what ticks do.
But the disturbance goes deeper than that. So what is it that is so very unsettling about ticks? It could be the fact that ticks are mini vampires that live off blood. Or maybe it’s the fact that they burrow their creepy little heads into your skin. Or perhaps it’s the alarming realization that ticks can stay latched onto your body for 2 to 3 days in order to have its fill of blood.
And as if all that weren’t bad enough, ticks don’t just take your blood. Nope, they may also leave a parting gift in the form of potentially life-threatening infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and more.
Nobody needs that in their lives.
So if you suspect you’ve just had an encounter with a tick, here’s everything you need to know to fight this creepy foe. And make sure you read through the full guide because when it comes to ticks – ignorance is not bliss.
What are ticks?
Here’s a fun tick fact: ticks are not insects. In fact, ticks are arachnids and as such, are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than insects.
And much like spiders, they can’t fly. They can’t even jump. Ticks must crawl to get to wherever they want to go. Typically, they like to crawl on tall blades of grass or other foliage where they lie in wait for a potential host to walk past.
Once a ready host is available, a tick will stretch out its two front legs and latch on for a ride and eventually, a blood meal.
Of course, that’s not all ticks do. To get an inside look at exactly how ticks operate, you’ll want to get the scoop on the most important tick facts.
Facts About Ticks: Everything You Need to Know for a Tick-Less Life
Yes, we know. Learning about ticks is pretty gross and not the way you prefer to spend your time online. But you must know how ticks operate in order to safely and effectively get rid of them. And that’s worth the extra read, isn’t it?
What do ticks looks like?
You can see their spider heritage in the way ticks look. The typical adult tick looks like a tiny spider with eight creepy legs – no antennae – although larval ticks only have six legs.
But there’s little point in trying to describe ticks in words when you can simply see what they look like. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
What Do Ticks Look Like? 23 Pictures of Ticks in All Life Stages
Pictures of ticks are also very useful because ticks tend to look different depending on the stage of their life they are in as well as before and after feeding. You’ll understand exactly what we mean once you see the pictures.
Ticks vs fleas: which is it?
When it comes to pests that suck blood, none suffer from mistaken identity as much as fleas and ticks. These two mini vampiric parasites are as different as can be and yet, they are so often mistaken for each other.
Fleas vs Ticks: What’s Worse?
So if you’re wondering which bloodsucker you’re faced with, you’ll find a quick run-down on the behavioral characteristics of each pest above.
What do ticks eat?
You already know the answer to this: ticks drink blood. But you probably don’t fully understand the extent of it.
Here’s the deal: Ticks drink a lot of blood. And they start young.
Ticks differ from other blood-sucking parasites in that they only feed once in each life stage. So how do they sustain themselves with just one blood meal?
Well, it only stands to reason that they must consume copious amounts to tide them over. Each meal counts.
This is exactly why a tick will latch itself onto a host for days. Left undisturbed, ticks can attach and feed for up to seven to ten days!
And when it comes to ticks, even the babies are out for blood. As soon as tick larvae hatch from their eggs, they get busy looking for a blood meal. It is only after this blood meal that they are able to molt into nymphs.
And tick nymphs are no different in their appetite and need for blood – tick nymphs must also attach onto another host and feed before they can molt into adults.
As adults, ticks will find a final host for a blood meal and mate. After mating, a female tick will lay anywhere from 1,500 to 5,000 eggs before she dies. And her progeny will repeat the whole blood-sucking cycle.
This is why it’s so important to nip the tick problem in the bud as soon as you spot it. Even one tick is too many – especially when one can result in thousands.
Do tick bites hurt?
In short, no. Ticks bites don’t hurt. And they don’t itch, either.
That’s how ticks are able to get away with using you as a blood buffet for several days at a time. The tick’s saliva is uniquely adapted to make the tick the sneakiest blood-sucker you can imagine.
While the tick is latched on and getting its fill, it’s also secreting enzymes that make the bite painless while simultaneously preventing your blood from clotting and neutralizing your body’s natural immune response of creating histamine. Thus, you most likely won’t feel a thing.
Do all ticks spread disease?
The good news is that only a small percentage of ticks carry infectious diseases. Most tick bites are harmless.
So #notallticks, if you will.
Of course, tick bites can present a bigger problem if you’re allergic to them. But even it you’re not, tick bites aren’t pleasant to have.
Because ticks don’t simply suck blood out of blood vessels. Instead, they create a sort of feeding cavity by destroying a small section of host tissue. Soft-bodied ticks will only drink blood from this site but hard-bodied ticks will feed on blood, lymph and lysed tissues.
Needless to say, tick feedings cause damage to the skin of the host. It’s best not to give them the opportunity to begin with, diseases or not.
How do you keep ticks away?
The best way to not have to deal with ticks is to not get them in the first place. Duh, you say.
But seriously, prevention is better than cure. Especially since keeping ticks off just requires a little preparation and a bit of tick-savvy.
How to Keep Ticks Away For Good: Best Tick Repellent Options
Of course, it’s not enough for just you to be protected. Your furry friend who is venturing off into the great outdoors with you is just as likely to be plagued by ticks.
How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs: 8 Most Effective Solutions
Do him a solid and make sure he is well protected against tick bites.
How do you remove a tick?
The worst has happened. You’ve found a tick embedded in your skin. It’s burrowed its disgusting head into your delicate skin and its having its fill of your blood.
Your immediate impulse is to get it out, get it out NOW!
We get it. But once a tick is in your skin, removing it requires finesse. Simply snatching it out can result in its repulsive mouthparts getting stuck in your skin and causing infection.
This is why when it comes to removing a tick, you must do it right.
What Is the Best Way to Remove a Tick? Which Tick Removal Tools Work and Which Don’t
Check out the guide above for the best way to remove a tick – as well as DIY tick removal strategies to avoid.
What about ticks on my dog?
If you’ve returned from a walk and found a tick or two latched onto you, the chances are good that Fido may have acquired some hitchhikers as well.
Since your poor pup won’t be able to do it himself, you’ll have to do the honors of both conducting a thorough inspection and ridding your pooch of any ticks that may be using him as a blood buffet.
How to Get Rid of Ticks On Dogs: What Works and What to Skip
Check out the article above for the full scoop on how to clear your dog of ticks – and how not to.
How do you kill ticks?
Once you’ve found a tick on you or your loved one, you’re going to want to kill it. It’s the most natural impulse.
And killing it won’t be too difficult but there are a couple “best practices” that you’ll want to keep in mind.
How to Kill Ticks: 7 Most Effective Tick Killers
Once you’ve covered that, let’s get your hands on the best tick killing arsenal that modern pest control has to offer and go kill some ticks!
What about home remedies for ticks?
Do a quick Internet search and you’ll find home remedies for everything under the sun – and tick killers are no exception. From apple cider vinegar to table salt, everyday ingredients are thrown around as effective tick killers when in reality, they have very little effect on ticks.
Home Remedies for Ticks: What Works and What to Avoid Like the Plague
Here’s a list of popular home remedies for killers and whether or not they actually work.
How do you get rid of ticks in the house?
With the above most effective tick killers, you’re armed for tick armageddon but to truly get rid of ticks permanently, it may not be enough to treat just the warm-blooded folks living in your home.
The tick infestation may already have spread further.
The good news is that it’s rare to have a tick infestation in your home simple because most tick species can’t survive indoors.
How to Get Rid of Ticks in the House (Any Why You Need to Do it Quick)
The bad news? Some species of ticks can and will thrive indoors and if one of those snuck in, mated and laid several thousand eggs before dying – you may have a tick infestation in your home.
How do you get rid of ticks in the yard?
You’ve wiped out the current tick population on yourself and your loved ones as well as in your home. But that doesn’t mean you won’t face one again…especially if you don’t get rid of ticks at the source.
And by that, we mean treating your outdoor areas – especially if you and your pets spend a lot of time there.
How to Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard: 9 Simple Steps to Kill and Repel Ticks
Your lovely backyard could be harboring a tick population that is lying in wait for you and your furry friends to come out and play. Ditto for your front lawn.
That’s why we highly recommend you don’t stop your war on ticks until you’ve cleared your immediate outdoor premises and secured them from ticks. Read the article above to find out exactly how to do that.