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Soft-bodied Tick (Ornithodoros spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Soft-bodied Tick

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Soft-bodied Ticks are a group of parasitic, blood-sucking creatures that carry bacteria that can threaten the health of birds, livestock, and people.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The genus Ornithodoros contains soft, globular ticks that inflate to round ovals after a long bloodmeal. Dark brown bodies have lighter legs that curl around hairs, fibers, feathers, and other objects that brush by them. Inside its digestive tract may be a host of bacteria that can make people sick. Bacterial spirochetes can be transmitted by bite from a tick to a human and cause Tick-borne Relapsing Fever. This illness causes a number of symptoms from fever, headaches, and chills to vomiting, delirium, and neck pain. Symptoms last around 3 days and come back after a week or so for months if not medically treated. A round of antibiotics can kill the spirochetes. Medicine hastens a full recovery.

These ticks are frequently seen on birds. Handling wild birds or coming into contact with nests where ticks may hide can expose a person to a bite. If bitten, removing the tick by its head with a pair of tweezers helps ensure its mouth parts are pulled out of skin as well. Contact your physician if you have been bitten by this type of tick and start to experience symptoms related to illness.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Chelicerata
      Order: Ixodida
        Family: Argasidae
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          Genus: Ornithodoros
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Ornithodoros spp.
Category: Mite or Tick
Size (Adult; Length): 2mm to 8mm (0.07" to 0.31")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; yellow; orange
Descriptors: wingless; fat; plump; deflated; biting; harmful; clingy; eight; legs; hooks

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 2mm (0.1in) and 8mm (0.3in)
Lo: 2mm
Md: 5mm
Hi: 8mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Soft-bodied Tick may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Soft-bodied Tick. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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