Tick Learning Center

Why It Is Important to Prevent Tick Bites

Ticks are actually not considered insects, rather they are arachnids. They feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded mammals, such as birds and mice. Ticks must have a blood meal in order to transition from one life stage to another. They satisfy this blood meal by attaching to and then embedding into the flesh with their straw-like mouth.

Deer ticks have dark, black legs and a body that is usually pale orange to brown in color. They are flat with a broad, oval shaped body and are typically 1/10th of an inch or smaller. They are visible to the naked eye but can be easily overlooked. Adults deer ticks are about the size of a sesame seed and deer tick nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.

If a deer tick is infected with a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi they can transmit Lyme disease to a person or animal through its bite. Deer ticks are known to carry the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, however, wood ticks and dog ticks are not known to carry the Lyme infection. Wood and dog ticks may carry other infections besides Lyme.

Because deer ticks are vectors of Lyme disease and other infections, it is important to protect oneself from them. Ticks live in grassy and wooded areas and seek out hosts to attach themselves to for their next bloodmeal. If you will be spending time outdoors, it is recommended that an insect repellent be used to prevent tick bites.

It is also recommended that you do tick checks daily spending time outdoors. Checking yourself and your family daily can help to catch ticks early and prevent transmission of disease. If a tick is found follow the CDC's Guidelines to properly remove the tick to lower your risk of Lyme and other diseases.



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