Everyone knows that ticks latch on to you and suck your blood, can potentially carry dangerous diseases, and should be avoided at all costs. Perhaps less known, is that ticks are actually arachnids, belonging to the same class as spiders. But there’s even more strange facts about ticks that most people don’t know.
Ticks inject their hosts with nerve poison.
Most people who are bitten by a tick do not realize that they have been bitten, and only realize when they either touch or see the tick on them. This is because ticks often inject a type of nerve poison that contains neurotoxins and acts as an anesthetic. Some people have an allergic reaction and can therefore feel the bite, but most people won’t realize until it’s too late.
Adult ticks find their hosts through a process called questing.
Ticks can’t fly, jump, or run, so they must rely on other predatory practices to ultimately land on a host. Ticks tend to crawl up to the uppermost portion of grasses and shrubs and wait for prey to brush up against them or walk beneath them. When an animal or human passes by underneath a tick that’s waiting, they will drop from their perch in hopes that they land on the host. Once on the host, hard-shelled ticks will feed for as long as it needs to complete a part of its life cycle. Soft-shelled ticks, however, only feed off of a host for a day at most.
Ticks can survive very long without food.
When ticks are unable to find a host to feed on, they become dormant during the winter, ultimately to “reawaken” to continue searching for a meal in the spring. Both adult ticks and larvae are capable of surviving for extremely long periods of time, especially relative to their life span. Adult brown dog ticks can last up to 200 days without a drop of blood, while larvae and nymphs can survive almost 600 days without food.
Ticks can carry more diseases than you think.
Lyme disease is the most well-known tick-borne disease, but ticks are also capable of carrying a large number of other diseases, sometimes even more than one at a time. They can carry numerous pathogens that cause disease, such as bacteria, viruses, toxins, nematodes, protozoa, and more. Some of the diseases that result from these pathogens include Powassan, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Relapsing Fever, and Tularemia, among many others.
Hard-shelled ticks secrete a substance to help them stick to a host.
In addition to clamping onto your skin with their mouthparts, ticks also secret a substance called cementum. This substance helps ticks attach their barbed feeding tubes into the skin of the host and allows them to tightly attach. This is part of the reason they are so difficult to pry off your skin when removing.
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