Ticks are external parasites that live on the blood of other beings, including mammals and birds. They have been known to also live on reptiles and amphibians, so they have a wide range of resources.
Ticks have a terrible reputation as they spread many diseases to humans and animals, the most recognised as Lyme Disease. In addition, diagnoses can be complex as ticks can apply more than one pathogen simultaneously.
Unlike other biting insects, a tick bite is painless and can go unnoticed due to its small size. Ticks then burrow into their host, where they stay until complete, which can be up to seven days. The longer the tick remains on its host, the greater the chance of infection.
Ticks are notoriously difficult to remove, and this must be done correctly to ensure complete removal. The most successful treatment is thought to be by freezing with medical wart remover or similar. However, squashing them whilst removing them can result in the tick contents going into the host’s bloodstream or leaving parts of the tick behind, which then require a medical procedure to remove.
Ticks cannot survive without a host. They do not fly or jump but can quickly climb onto a passing host. They favour warm, humid conditions and need a certain amount of moisture to develop.
Ticks are a part of the arachnid family and therefore have eight legs, two of these only appearing after their first blood meal. There are thought to be around 900 different species worldwide.
The most likely tick to feed on a human in the UK is the ‘Sheep tick’. This may be partly due to opportunity as we take walks outdoors, petting zoos and animal parks near these so-called sheep ticks.