Ticks (Family Ixodidae) are arthropods, not insects. They belong to the same class as spiders.  There are more than 850 identified species of ticks in the world and are categorized as either hard ticks or soft ticks.

Here in Canada, the most common types of ticks are hard ticks, specially the deer tick (or black-legged tick), American dog tick, brown dog tick and Rocky Mountain wood tick.

Ticks are also parasites, and need a host (mammal, bird, reptile, etc.) to survive. They need to consume blood during all stages of their life cycle. While different tick species will favour different hosts, most will feed on any blood source available to them. Common hosts are deer, livestock, dogs, cats and humans.

Commonly found near highly vegetated and wooded areas, ticks climb to the top of blades of grass and wait for a host to walk past them. They will use a pair of legs to grasp onto an unknowing victim. Therefore, ticks commonly find their way indoors by hitchhiking on household pets (especially dogs), people and clothing.

Ticks can be as small as a sesame seed or as large as a pea. Their colouring ranges from various shades of brown, black, grey and white. Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), or blacklegged ticks vary in size and colour depending on their sex.  Females are reddish-brown and average 3-5 mm in length. Male deer ticks are brown and smaller in size.

a tick on human skin

Mature ticks have 2 body sections, 8 legs and moving mouthparts. Their heads are fused to their thorax. When ticks feed, their body expands, which gives them a larger appearance post feeding (when they are fully engorged with their host’s blood). A female deer tick can become as large as 10mm post feeding.

They are a huge concern because they can transmit diseases to animals and humans at all stages of their life cycles.  For humans, the deer tick or blacklegged ticks poses a serious concern for Lyme disease. Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, is spread when an infected deer tick (blacklegged tick) bites a human. These types of ticks become exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria through feeding on wild animals infected with it.

A bite from a tick often goes unnoticed because they are not painful. Most people are unaware they have been bitten unless they find an engorged tick feeding on their body or on animal. Often once the tick has finished feeding, and is fully engorged with its host’s blood, it will fall off and seek out a new victim when it needs to eat again.

It is dangerous to remove a feeding tick from our body. If the tick is crushed, any infected fluids could be released into you, further contaminating the bite area, and putting your health at risk. If you think you may have been bitten by a tick or have in fact been bitten, seek professional medical advice or attention.

Learn more about how to get rid of ticks.

If you need Tick Control, contact the experts at Environmental Pest Control.

Call 1 (800) 263-5055

Our Professional Team is Happy to Help!