Ticks share similar traits with scorpions, spiders and mites, thus classifying them as arachnids. Simple, yet elegant creatures, ticks have bodies divided into an anterior, containing the head and mouthparts; and a posterior containing the eight legs, digestive tract and reproductive organs. A testament to their highly efficient design, fossil records indicate ticks have roamed the earth for at least 90 million years.
Throughout the world there exist over 800 different types of ticks, separated into two main families, Ixodidae (hard ticks) and Argasidae (soft ticks). As the name suggests, hard ticks have a rigid shield on their posterior body segment. While both hard and soft ticks transmit a wide spectrum of diseases, in Maine the most notorious of the species being the Lyme carrying Blacklegged or Deer tick (Ixodes scapularis).
Unlike its relative the agile spider, ticks wait in ambush on low growing vegetation, patiently locating prey and then slowly and methodically crawling onto host animals. Once attached to a human or animal, ticks survive strictly on a diet of blood.
Maine’s deer tick has a two-year life cycle, with larvae hatching from eggs in the spring and then molting into pinhead-sized nymphs the following spring. In fall, they become adults, spending the long winter buried deep under leaf litter on the forest floor. Shortly after the spring thaw, mature females lay eggs and the life cycle begins anew. All phases of the tick life cycle require blood meals.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. How many eggs can a female tick lay?
2. What is the best way to remove a tick?
3. What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
4. What is the best prevention against ticks in your yard?
5. What is the best prevention against ticks in your home?
6. What is the best body protection against ticks?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. Female ticks can lay up to 2000 eggs.
2. The best way to remove a tick is by grasping it with tweezers close to the skin and detaching it without leaving behind its mouthparts. Disinfect the bite area after removal.
3. The symptoms of lyme disease include a bulls eyes type rash or unexplained illness.
4. To prevent ticks from invading your yard, regularly cut your grass. Ticks do not thrive in short vegetation and are seldom a problem in well-mowed lawns. Guineafowl also consumes mass quantities of ticks.
5. To protect your home from ticks, make sure to thoroughly inspect animals and make sure they are current on their repellents such as Frontline and Advantix.
6. To protect your body against ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, trousers, boots and a head covering. Apply insect repellents containing DEET and Permethrin