Freaky Facts About Ticks
November 2, 2016
Ticks are very common and dangerous blood-sucking parasites that prey on mammals, birds, and reptiles. In addition, they are the most common disease-carriers in the United States. So what makes ticks so threatening to humans? After extensive research, I narrowed it down to these five freaky facts about ticks.
#1: Ticks are infamous disease carriers and they can carry a lot of them at once! Ticks are one of the most common carriers that transmit diseases to humans and animals, second only to mosquitoes. In fact, in the United States ticks are the most common disease-carrying transmitters. Even worse, ticks are often infected with numerous disease-carrying pathogens and they are able to transmit all of them in one bite. That’s right: with a single tick bite, you could become infected with multiple different harmful diseases.
On the bright side, due to the biology of their feeding process, it takes at least 24 hours after the initial tick bite for any diseases to be transmitted to the host. This is why it is important to regularly check for ticks and why it is important to properly remove any ticks immediately after finding them.
#2: Tick bites are painless because of neurotoxins in their saliva. You probably won’t even notice when they bite you, making them all the more threatening. The saliva of hard ticks has a unique component that contains neurotoxins and once injected into the skin, the neurotoxins act as a local anesthetic for the area around the bite so the host will not be able to feel the attack. Since you cannot feel a bite, it is important to check yourself and your pets for ticks after being exposed to any risky areas such as the woods or tall grassy fields.
#3: Ticks embed themselves into your skin with barbs and cement. Well, they don’t use actual cement, but it is a cement-like substance, which is still pretty freaky to me! Hard ticks secrete a substance called Cementum in their saliva when they bite a new host. The Cementum acts as a glue-like substance that allows ticks to attach firmly to their host, making it that much harder to remove them correctly. Even further securing their attachment are the minuscule barbs that cover the legs and feeding tubes of ticks, these itty-bitty barbs allow those nasty ticks to lodge themselves even deeper into your skin. Good luck getting those suckers off!
#4: Ticks are freaky little adrenaline-junkies who find their new hosts through a perilous activity called questing. Ticks cannot fly nor can they jump, instead hard ticks crawl from host to host through a unique host seeking process called ‘questing.’ Questing begins when the hard tick crawls up to the tippy-top of a stem of grass or to the farthest edge of a leaf, once they are perched as far out as they possibly can be, the ticks will extend their fronts legs out into the air and then they just wait. The tick will wait in this extended position patiently for a potential host to come by; when they sense that a host is nearby, they will extend their little legs even farther so that they can easily climb onto the unsuspecting host as it brushes past. This entire process is referred to as questing and to me it seems like an unnecessarily risky way to find new hosts, but ticks are all for it. Ticks’ unique questing behavior is as impressive as it is frightening, and questing would be so cool if only ticks weren’t so scary!
#5: Despite popular opinion, ticks do not land on their hosts by falling from overhead trees. Growing up I learned to be careful when walking under certain trees because the ticks can get on you by falling from the branches above. It turns out these “falling ticks” that I used to fear never even existed: it is a myth! It is a widely-held belief that ticks not only crawl onto their hosts but that they can also fall from trees onto their hosts. Many people believe that ticks will fall, or drop down, onto a host from tree branches overhead, and if you find a tick somewhere on your head then it got there by falling or dropping from above. However, this well-known idea is just not true: ticks crawl up, only. If you find a tick on your head, it is because they crawled all they way up your body to get there. Freaky, right? I thought that at first too, but then I realized that I no longer have to worry about ticks falling from the sky. Busting the “falling ticks” myth ended up being a relief!
If ticks have become a nuisance for you or your pets, check in later for my article about tick prevention and protection for pets. If you have any questions about ticks or if you are interested in our pest control services, please contact Nozzle Nolen today!
Kvamme, Jennifer. "The 10 Best Ways to Get Rid of & Prevent Ticks on Dogs." PetMD. PetMD, LLC., 2016. Web. <http://www.petmd.com/dog/ parasites/evr_dg_10_ways_to_ stop_ticks_from_biting_your_ dog>.
Sloan, Carrie. "How to Get a Tick Out of a Dog: Common Myths and Foolproof Methods." Vetstreet. Vetstreet, 13 May 2014. Web. <http://www.vetstreet.com/our- pet-experts/how-to-properly- remove-ticks-common-myths-and- foolproof-methods>.
"Where Do Ticks Commonly Hide on Your Body?" Reference. Reference An IAC Publishing Labs Company, 2016. Web. <https://www.reference.com/ health/ticks-commonly-hide- body-f7db8a1644bbc035>
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