TICKS AND THEIR TRICKS
THE OPPORTUNISITIC BLOODSUCKER
Despite what we may think, ticks cannot jump. So, while we may think they are lying in wait in the bush to jump onto us as we walk past, this is not true.
However, they are expert climbers and use this skill by climbing onto the end of a blade of grass or to the top of a branch or the side of trees and sitting in wait with their two sticky front limbs raised to the sky, ready to grab onto an unsuspecting passer-by.
There are two names used to refer to this practice, “host seeking” and “questing,” and it is how ticks end up on your clothing, in your dog’s fur, or even in your hair.
Ticks and Their Tricks
Once a tick has found a host, they are immediately on the prowl for the best place to hide and feast.
These parasites prefer find places to latch on to their host’s where they feel hidden such as crevices like arm pits or underneath hair.
Once their ideal spot has been found, they split open the skin of their victim and insert their heads with a barbed, straw-like appendage sinking into the flesh. This makes them difficult to remove.
Although this sounds incredibly painful, the saliva of ticks contains a local anaesthetic that numbs the area, making the host unaware of the attacking parasite. Their saliva also contains an anticoagulant so that the blood does not clot and continues to flow, along with suppressants for the immune system so that the body cannot respond by creating a large itchy bump or any other sort of reaction that would clue a host into their presence.
Ticks can survive for up to two years without feasting on blood and are also surprisingly resilient in a multitude of other ways:
- They are resistant to drowning with some species able to withstand three days under water.
- Some ticks can also withstand significant droughts.
- Washing them down a sink or even flushing them down the toilet can result in the little bloodsucker crawling right back up the drain and back into your home.
- Ticks can also withstand significant cold and heat, making them almost as indestructible as the infamous cockroach.
No matter what stage of their life cycle a tick is in, if it is infected with disease, it is able to spread the pathogens onto a new victim.
Ticks are notorious vessels of diseases and are well known for transmitting both Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Tickborne diseases range from mild symptoms such as fever/chills, aches/pains, and rash, to severe medical emergencies that can require hospitalization.
In some cases, when tickborne diseases are not attended to in a timely manner it can even cause lasting complications including, but not limited to, neurological damage and hearing loss.
After being in any locations where ticks are known or suspected to inhabit, it is extremely important to conduct a tick check.
- Look in any seams or folds of clothing, pockets, the belt region, any hats, and the lacing of your shoes.
- Check under armpits and behind the knee.
- If you are not alone, get somebody else to look at your back, the nape of the neck and in your hair.
- It is also advisable to have a shower immediately and to check yourself over once more just prior to a shower when clothing is no longer in the way.
- Be aware of any tiny bumps that you may feel on your scalp while washing your hair as it may be an attached tick.
If you have any of these bloodsucking pests in or around your home, it is advisable to get a professional service to eradicate them to avoid any future problems.
Ticks and Their Tricks