The Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis) which is also known as the blacklegged tick, is a blood feeding parasite that depends on the white tailed deer for nourishment, and reproduction. A tick will find a host, and then insert itself into the host with it’s chelicerae, (cutting mandibles) and it’s feeding tube into the skin. The feeding tube is covered with recurved teeth, and these teeth anchor the tick to the host.
Deer ticks live for approximately 2-3 years and they will have a total of three blood meals. When the female lays eggs, the life cycle officially begins. The eggs will develop into larvae, then nymphs, and finally adults. Adult female ticks, and nymphs, can transmit infections through their bite.
Here is how the life cycle evolves:
In year one, during the spring and summer, the eggs will hatch into larvae. They have one mean, and will molt into nymphs. These wll become dormant during the fall, and winter.
During the second year, from May-July, nymphs will feed. They can at this time, transmit disease-causing organisms to humans or to other mammals. They spread the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
During the fall period, nymphs will molt into adult male and female ticks. The females will feed on various large mammals including deer. They will mate, lay their eggs, and then die. If female ticks do not feed during the fall, they will seek out a large mammal host in the following spring. Male ticks will seek out a mammal host and wait for a female, but it will not take a blood meal.
Seed ticks will host themselves on moose, cattle, horses, lions, and other large mammals. They can cause anemia and other various diseases, as well as paralysis, and even death.
Temperature changes and day length are some of the many factors that inspire a tick to seek out a host. Ticks can sense heat and carbon dioxide emitted from nearby host mammals. They will eventually drop off after they are full from their blood meal, but this can take several days. Ticks generally are more active in warm weather, but they can attach themselves to a host at any time.
Ticks generally are to be found throughout the world in wooded, forested regions. Ticks are found in abundance near water, where warm-blooded animals will come to drink. They can also be found in meadows, shrubs, and brush.
There are several ways you can prevent ticks from overtaking your home:
- Mow your lawn and keep the grass short. Ticks love tall grass. Trim the brush and do not let leaves accumulate.
- If you have wooded property, be sure to keep paths, or trails clear of vegetation.
- If you have animals such as horses, cattle, dogs, and cats, check them on a regular basis.
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