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What Does a Tick Look Like and Where Do Ticks Live

Updated on December 11, 2014

The questions what does a tick look like and where do ticks live have become very popular with the media coverage of tick borne diseases.

Ticks are the leading carriers of diseases to humans in the United States, second only to mosquitoes worldwide. It is not the tick bite but the toxins, secretions, or organisms in the tick's saliva transmitted through the bite that causes disease.

Ticks are of the arachnid family. All members of this group have four pairs of legs as adults and have no antennae. Ticks will attach firmly to their host when sucking blood and may be unnoticed for a considerable amount of time. Ticks will bury their head inside a human or animal feeding for several days thus making them very efficient disease carriers.

What do Ticks look like - Three of the most common Ticks.

Blacklegged Tick, also known as the Deer Tick All three active stages of the blacklegged / deer tick will feed on a variety of hosts including people. After the eggs hatch in the spring, the very tiny larvae feed primarily on white-footed mice or other small mammals. The following spring, the larvae molt into pinhead-sized, brown nymphs that will feed on mice, larger warm-blooded animals and people. In the fall, they molt into adults that feed primarily on deer, with the females laying eggs the following spring.

Brown Tick also known as the DogTick The brown dog tick (also known as the kennel tick) is found through most of the United States This tick feeds on dogs, deer, people and whatever else it can attach itself to. This tick is found in grass and weeds but not so much in the woods. Dog ticks like to hang out in the tall grass that you usually have to walk through on the way to the woods, especially in farm country.

The adult is reddish-brown and about 1/8-inch long. After feeding, a female may engorge to ½-inch long. She then drops off the dog and crawls into a hiding place where she may lay as many as 3,000 eggs. Ticks don't survive cold winter climates but the eggs survive and bring a whole new cluster of ticks in the spring.

Lonestar Tick also known as the Wood Tick is found throughout the southeastern and south-central states. The distribution, range and abundance of the lone star tick have increased over the past 20-30 years, and lone star ticks have been recorded in large numbers as far north as Maine and as far west as central Texas and Oklahoma. All three life stages (larva, nymph, adult) of the lone star tick will feed on humans, and may be quite aggressive. Lone star ticks will also feed readily on other animals, including dogs and cats, and may be brought into the home on pets. The saliva from lone star ticks can be irritating; redness and discomfort at a bite site does not necessarily indicate an infection.

Tick Repellant and removal tools - A must have for Campers, Hunters, Hikers and all outdoorsman

Black legged Tick, also known as the Deer Tick

Brown Tick also known as the DogTick

Lonestar Tick also known as Wood Tick

Tick Bite Prevention

Avoiding Tick infested areas is the best way to Prevent tick bites and tick borne illnesses. If you live in or visit wooded areas or areas with tall grass and weeds, follow these precautions to help prevent tick bites and decrease the risk of disease.

Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts. Ticks are easier to see on light colored clothing.

Apply insect repellent such as Skin So Soft Bug Guard. This is much safer than Deet and works just as well, without the oily feel, the offensive smell and it won't damage clothing.

Avoid walking through high weeds as much as possible, ticks are sensitive to dry conditions and do not thrive in short vegetation.

Check your children and other family members every couple of hours. Ticks usually don't attach themselves to you very quickly.

Don't Forget About Your Pets - Pet collars for tick and flea prevention

Removing embedded ticks from your skin

Some believe that burning or putting nail polish on an embedded tick will make it back out on its own. This will not work.

Use tweezers, getting as close to the head as possible and pulling tick straight out of your skin. Pull with a steady constant motion, do not jerk or try to twist it out of your skin. If you don't have tweezers, pinch tick with fingers as close to the head as you can and pull straight out. Don't use bare hands. Use tissue or something as a barrier to prevent touching disease carrying tick secretions.

Wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water and apply an antiseptic to the bite site.

Ticks can be safely disposed of by placing them in a container of soapy water or alcohol. Burning them or sticking them between 2 pieces of tape before throwing them in the trash also works very well.

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    • potovanja profile image

      potovanja 5 years ago

      Super lens. Few days ago bite me blacklegged tick. For now, everything is ok. I pull out tick and i hope will be fine. Great lense with very useful tips. Thank you

    • greenmind profile image

      greenmind 5 years ago

      Nice lens! I really like the pictures -- where did you get them? I was looking for good public domain tick photos for a lens I did, and only found a few. Is the Dan blog yours? If so, nice work!

    • fotos4web lm profile image

      fotos4web lm 5 years ago

      of the various ticks you mentio, the most dangerous are the Deer ticks which csn eassily be transferred to you or your pet. Deer ticks often caarry Lyme Disease which has horrid side effec.lf you are bitten by a deer tikc see your docor as soon as possible.