Along the same thread as the last post…..here’s 10 (maybe 11) facts you definitely don’t want to know (but definitely should) about Ticks!
1. Ticks belong to the same family as spiders (arachnids) and have 8 legs (6 when they’re young larva/nymphs) The Tick has an organ on one the front set of legs called the Hallers Organ used for picking up heat and chemical signatures from its prey.
2. If you’ve been bitten by a tick in Britain chances are its either a sheep or a deer tick, these belong to the genus Ioxididea or “Hard Tick” so called because of the hard shield around its upper body. If you’ve ever tried to kill a tick and found it hard its because of this hard shield, they can take the weight of a human!!
3. The Tick has 3 parts to their life cycle Larva, Nymph and Adult.
4. The small ticks you find attached to yourself (the size of a ballpoint and/or poppy seed) are typically the Nymph or Larva
5. Ticks cant fly or jump, they sit on the end of leaves, grass, fern or bracken with their front set of legs outstretched waiting for the victim to brush past them (this is known as Questing)
6. Once the ticks on you it can take up to 2 hours to find the perfect spot (usually in a damp dark place such as armpits or crotches!)
7. To feed the tick takes a bite from your skin and inserts its feeding mandibles into the hole, it excretes an anti-coagulant from its salivary glands to stop the blood from clotting. An adult tick when engorged with blood can reach the size of a small pea!
8. Ticks are vectors for many diseases such as Lymes. The ticks are either born with lymes (handed down from infected parents) or pick the disease up from rodents or birds, that commonly carry the disease.
9. Signs of Lymes disease include flu like symptoms, severe fatigue, muscle pain and headaches. Sometimes a “bull’s-eye” rash appears around the bite site although apparently 20-30% of Lymes patients ever report seeing one. Lymes can typically be treated by anti-biotics.
10. Tick removal is extremely important, any excess stress on the Tick can lead to it regurgitating into the host, increasing the potential of diseases being passed on. The 3 main methods that are recommended are the “Tick-o-matic”, a “Lassoo remover” or a pair of tweezers. Whichever method is used the tick should be seized as close to its head as possible, a small amount of pressure should be exerted whilst twisting the tick until it releases. Check the Tick to make sure its head wasn’t left behind!
11. Use insect repellent, Tuck socks into trousers and try your best to avoid moving through thick undergrowth where they are abundant, and finally don’t be scared to go outside!!