Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ticks

What do ticks mean to you? If you’re a child, ticks mean you have done something correctly. If you’re a list-maker, a tick may indicate that a task on the list has been achieved or that an item on the shopping list has been found and placed in the trolley 
(I’m a crosser-out – I enjoy striking a line through words!)
Adult deer tick (Ixodes scapularis)
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
If you are a mammal, bird, and occasionally a reptile or amphibian in the Great Outdoors, a tick may be a blood-sucking member of the arachnid family that attaches itself to your skin with its cutting jaws (chelicerae) and feeding tube (hypostome) as a small, insignificant creature that expands as its body fills with your blood. The hypostome, with its many recurved teeth, acts as an anchor to retain its hold on the host. When sated it drops off, resting in tall grass until requiring further sustenance when it will find another passing victim.

Ticks are able to sense carbon dioxide and heat from nearby hosts and are found inn most wooded areas throughout the world. They are particularly common where there are deer or human trails. They can also be found in meadows where shrubs and brushwood offer cover. They are noticeably prolific near water where animals come to drink, infecting wild and domestic animals alike.  

They are not only an irritant but also vectors of diseases like Lyme disease in Europe and the USA and Rocky Mountain spotted fever in North America. One form of natural control involves the Ichneumon wasp Ixodiphagus hookeri which lays its eggs in ticks. The hatching wasps feed on their host and kill it. Guinea fowl consume great numbers of ticks. Two birds can clear two acres completely in one year.

They are ancient creatures, believed to have been evident in the Cretaceous period, 65 to 146 million years ago, though most of their evolution occurred during the Tertiary period, 5 to 65 million years ago.
Male tick compared to match head
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Today’s generation of ticks has been conspicuous this year, if our dogs are an indicator of their activity. Jenna has been the main host, though Tia also has a visitor now. We have tried covering the ticks with Vaseline, which is supposed to stop them breathing, I believe. It didn’t work! We also tried pure alcohol, which Barry uses to clean tape heads and model rail tracks. That didn’t work either. Simply pulling off the ticks is not effective because the mouth parts are left behind and can cause infection. Now, we have the ‘O’Tom Tick Twister’ which we bought at our vets’ surgery yesterday. Ticks, look out – we’ve got you in our sights!

8 comments:

  1. I haven't seen ticks for years (ugly little beggars, aren't they?) but I remember the dog, and occasionally one of us, hosting one or two when I was a teenager. I vaguely remember my dad putting a hot needle through the body of the tick and easing the head out by pulling slowly on the needle.
    Brrrr.
    Dreadful process.
    Horrible creatures.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  2. My hubby and I do alot of hiking in the woods... We always worry about things like ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, poison ivy, etc.... We neither have gotten a tick bite --and don't want one... They do carry diseases.... yipes!!!!!

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  3. The thought of ticks on me after a hike through the woods gives me the creeps, which my little sister thinks is hysterical. Yuck!

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  4. It has also been years with me since I had seen any ticks, they are ugly little creatures that is for sure. Years ago while living out in Virgina we used to get them all of the time on our dogs, horses, and sometimes even on our chickens and of course us as well from time to time, we used to used a hot match and lay it on their tiny butts and after a few seconds they usually backed out, but sometimes that didn't always work so we would just end up cutting them out.

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  5. ugh! ticks. they are pretty much the one thing i can't handle -snakes, spiders, anything else really. but ticks! No thank you! and i'm a tick magnet, unfortunately. I just got bit 2 weeks ago. I get 'am all the time. yuck!

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  6. This post reminds me that I had to burn one that was on my fiance a few months ago so that it would move and we could remove it without the head staying in. Apparently some people are more prone to getting them than others as I have never once had one on my skin.

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  7. I remember when I was pregnant, there was a tick right on my tummy after we got back from camping. Sheesh!

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  8. We see occasional ticks around here, usual in areas where cows have been.
    They are not my favorite critter, but I enjoyed reading more about them in this post.

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