Ticks are tiny, but their reputation for disease and animal irritation make their recognition an important skill.
A large, flat Tick walking along door trim
Ticks are parasites that feed off the blood of a host. Almost any warm-blooded animal will suffice. As they feed, they release anticoagulants, special chemicals that prevent blood from clotting. Their mouths are so tiny that most hosts like people and dogs do not feel the bite. They might not even realize they were a host even after the tick leaves. Fortunately, the American Dog Tick is not known to carry Lyme Disease, the most popular affliction associated with ticks.
Ticks are not bugs, they are arachnids, which means they have 8 legs. Some ticks are round (like beans) while others are flat with festoons (folds that look like a ridge) around their abdomen. All ticks are parasitic. Their body shape color can greatly change after a blood meal. Flat, hungry ticks become inflated like a balloon after a full meal. Color may change also.
Some, but not all tick bites can develop a red ring, like a target, around the bite site. Complete and speedy removal of a tick from a host can help avoid the spread of tick-borne diseases. Tweezers are helpful in grasping the tick by the head so all the mouth parts are removed. Grabbing the tick by the body may result in breaking it off, leaving the head and mouth embedded in skin.
Some species of tick are capable of spreading disease to humans like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Although the infectious agent does not affect the tick, once it is passed through the tick's saliva into the human bloodstream, it can cause an array of symptoms including fatigue, headaches, and general malaise. If you suspect you have been bitten by a tick, seeking the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible is prudent.
Scientific Name: Dermacentor sp.
Mite or Tick
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 5mm (0.12in to 0.20in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.