Test your knowledge about ticks
- Ticks surpass all of the arthropods in the number and variety of diseases they can transmit to domestic animals. Only mosquitoes transmit more diseases to humans.
- Ticks are small arachnids. Although they’re commonly mistaken as insects, they only have one body part and eight legs.
- Ticks are important vectors (animals or insects that can cause discomfort or transmit disease) of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease.
- Ticks are often found in tall grass and shrubs. They climb to the tips of the plants, wait, and then attach themselves to an animal or person as they brush by them.
- Physical contact is the only method of transportation for ticks. They do not jump nor fly, although they may drop from their perches and fall onto a host.
- Ticks possess a sensory apparatus called “Haller’s organ.” This structure senses odor, heat, and humidity. This is how ticks locate their food source. They climb unto the tips of tall grass and when they sense an animal is close by, they crawl on or hitch a ride when the animal or person brushes by.
- A tick’s diet consists solely of blood.
- Ticks feed on rodents, rabbits, birds, deer, cats, dogs, reptiles, and humans.
- When feeding, ticks make a small hole in the skin and attach themselves with a modification of one of the mouth parts which has teeth that curve backwards. They insert barbed piercing mouth parts to remove blood.
- The tick’s saliva helps keep the blood flowing by keeping it from clotting while the tick is feeding. In many ticks, the saliva also acts like cement, helping to anchor the tick in place and making it harder for you to remove it.
- Most tick bites are harmless, but some ticks carry diseases that can spread to people, including Lyme disease. The primary vector of Lyme disease in California is the Western black-legged tick.
- Ticks are also transmitters of a disease called tick paralysis. A toxin from the tick is transmitted to the victim while the tick is engorging (feeding on blood).
- Adult ticks have been known to live for as long as 200 days without a blood meal.
- Lyme disease is present in Contra Costa County. About one to two percent of Western black-legged ticks test positive for the disease.