Ticks are obligate blood-sucking ectoparasites. They are efficient carriers (vectors) of several types of disease agents such as bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae and protozoans. They are members of the same phylum (Arthropoda) as insects, but are in a different class named Arachnida.
There are two important families of ticks recognized, the Ixodidae (Hard Ticks) and Argasidae (Soft Ticks).
The family Ixodidae is the largest and economically most important family with more than 600 species. The most important species of hard ticks as parasites of companion animals are:
Ixodes ricinus (Sheep Tick, Castor Bean Tick). The most common tick in Northern Europe and an important vector of both animal and human disease.
Ixodes scapularis (Deer Tick; Blacklegged Tick, Ixodes dammini )
Ixodes hexagonus (Hedgehog Tick)
Dermacentor variabilis (American Dog Tick)
Dermacentor reticulatus (Marsh Tick or Cow tick)
Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Brown Dog Tick)
Amblyomma americanum (Lone Star Tick)
Habitat and Host Seeking
Many hard ticks seek hosts by an interesting behavior called "questing", whereby they climb blades of grass and in a typical posture with the forelegs outstretched wait for a passing host.
Certain biochemicals such as carbon dioxide as well as heat and movement serve as stimuli for questing behavior.
Subsequently, these ticks climb on to a potential host which brushes against their extended front legs.
Hard ticks occur in brushy, wooded, or weedy areas containing potential hosts and do not jump or fly, but wait on vegetation for a host to brush against them. They are sensitive to desiccation and are therefore usually found in areas providing protection from high temperatures, low humidities, and constant breezes.
Ticks attach to your dog by inserting their mouthparts into your dog’s skin.
Tick Life Cycle
Learn more about a typical tick life cycle.
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