Ticks - What Are They, Why Do They Bite Us And How To Protect Yourself? Photo

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Ticks - What Are They, Why Do They Bite Us And How To Protect Yourself? Photo
Ticks - What Are They, Why Do They Bite Us And How To Protect Yourself? Photo

Video: Ticks - What Are They, Why Do They Bite Us And How To Protect Yourself? Photo

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Video: 5 Tips to Prevent Tick Bites and Getting Lyme Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine 2023, January

During my stay in the Far East, the vaccination against encephalitis was constantly heard and was carried out in large quantities. The event is not one-time, but extended in time. The first vaccination, as a rule, is at the beginning of winter, the second - at the beginning of spring (in May it is already possible to go to the forest for ferns without much fear), and the third - in a year. Revaccination is repeated after 3 years and is needed to form persistent long-term immunity. Ticks are themselves unpleasant creatures, and there is still so much trouble because of them. In the article I will try to tell you what they are and how to protect yourself from the complications associated with them.

Ticks - what are they, why do they bite us and how to protect yourself?
Ticks - what are they, why do they bite us and how to protect yourself?


  • Who are ticks and where do they live?
  • Stages of growth and wrecking of ticks
  • Season of Bloody Feast
  • Prevention and protection against ticks
  • If the tick nevertheless stuck …
  • Natural enemies of ticks

Who are ticks and where do they live?

Ticks are not insects, but arachnids. And their structure is appropriate - the cephalothorax and abdomen, and legs in an adult state, 4 pairs, plus chelicerae (such external jaws).

The overwhelming majority of ticks in nature lead a decent life, eating dead parts of plants, or predatory, like spiders. But the family has its black sheep. Meet ixodoid ticks - parasites, lovers of someone else's blood. Moreover, this lifestyle turned out to be so attractive that it took root everywhere - even on penguins they parasitize!

In Russia, there are also enough ixodoid ticks for everyone and they are common throughout the country. In their original form, they are parasites of wild animals. The current situation is such that there are less and less wild animals, and people and dogs come across more and more often. Ticks have been retrained.

There are two main families - argas and ixodic, and there are about 900 subspecies, but this is already “bread and butter” for arachnologists. Argas are distributed south of Belgorod, south of Khabarovsk, found in the Transbaikal steppes; ixodids are everywhere, even in the tundra.

Initially, ticks are parasites of wild animals, but people and dogs come across them more and more often
Initially, ticks are parasites of wild animals, but people and dogs come across them more and more often

Ixodid ticks

We have more Ixodovs, so first about them.

Mostly dog ticks (Ixodes ricinus), taiga ticks (Ixodes persulcatus) and pasture ticks (Dermacentor marginatus) cling to people. They also cling to our pets - dogs and cats. Ixodid ticks are small and difficult to spot. Females are 3-4 mm in size, males are even smaller. Until they have eaten, they are also very light - even their crawling on the body is most often not felt.

Hungry ticks look like a flattened spider. Drunk - on a bubble with legs. They sit, waiting for the victim, usually on blades of grass or on low bushes, mainly at a height of up to 1 m. They react to temperature and smell - they have very poor eyesight. As soon as the temperature and warm-blooded odor sensors have triggered, they pull out their front legs and cling to something. And then the tick will slowly make its way to where the temperature is higher, the smell is stronger, and the skin is thinner.

Canine, taiga and pasture ticks are carriers of serious infectious diseases: tick-borne encephalitis, Lyme disease, tick-borne typhus and many others. The infection is not only kept in one tick, but the female also passes the infection on to subsequent generations (up to 30 or more). Ixodid ticks drink blood once during their adult life, but for a long time: an adult tick needs from several hours to days to saturate. After laying eggs, females die, males - soon after mating.

Argas mites

Argas mites are mostly found in the southern regions, and tourists wandering in the mountains have a chance to catch a tick. They sit, as a rule, on stones and near them. They are carriers of tick-borne relapsing fever. Reacting to heat and smell, they quickly run towards the donor, quickly stick, they can drink blood in a few minutes, and just as quickly retreat. Their bite can be overlooked. Rather, do not understand that it was the tick that bitten. Blood can be drunk many times, they live long (up to 23 years).

Stages of growth and wrecking of ticks

Ticks in their development go through the following stages: egg, larva, nymph, adult tick. And only from eggs no harm: they are eaten with pleasure by ants and ground beetles. If they had not eaten, the ticks would have already drunk all the blood from us: one female ixodid tick can lay up to 17,000 eggs (!). Not all at once: apparently, it is not easy to lay so many eggs. The process goes on for more than one day, with breaks for rest.

The female argas mite lays up to 200 eggs at a time, but can do it many times.

Larvae hatch from half-eaten ground beetles or lost by ants during transportation of eggs - similar to adult ticks, only small and they have 6 legs. But the same parasites. They also cling to a person, only they are not yet able to bite - the mouth apparatus does not allow. Therefore, blood is sucked mainly from small rodents and insectivores. Having drunk the blood, they fall off, shed and move in a secluded place to the next age - a nymph.

The nymph is also similar to a tick, a larger larva and a smaller adult, legs already 8. It can feed on larger animals. Here she is already able to bite a person, although she will not bite every skin - only the most delicate and thin. Having received a dose, it falls off, hides in a secluded place, molts and turns into an adult sexually mature tick.

Sexually mature mites begin to mate. And after that, they look for a victim for food. Males drink blood faster and fall off, while females drink from the heart to increase in volume by 5-10 times, they also need to lay eggs. Having drunk, they fall off, look for a secluded place and begin the long process of laying eggs.

A huge number of eggs takes time, and the process can last from several days to a month. At the end of the clutch, the females die. The male can mate with 1-2 more females, if he finds, and then also dies. That is, the ixodids die, and the argasians continue to live and vampire.

Mite laying eggs
Mite laying eggs

Season of Bloody Feast

Ticks can hibernate in different regions at different stages of development: in the form of eggs, in the form of larvae, in the form of nymphs and in adulthood (if they did not get food last year).

It is clear that in spring they are hungry and there are a lot of them (of all ages). A temperature of +20 ° C is considered comfortable for them, but hunger is not an aunt, and a tick can cling in cooler conditions. Especially if there was a noticeable warming (like this year) at an inopportune time. The tick woke up, and then it got cold again. Thus, spring is the most critical season.

Then, after drinking blood, the ticks begin the transformation or oviposition procedures and everything dies down for a while. For humans, it calms down, small forest animals will be donors all summer. In autumn, at the end of the heat and dryness, which the ticks do not like, mass sexual frenzy will begin among the grown-ups over the season, and again a lot of blood will be required.

It is in bulk. Some ticks do not manage to get hold of fresh blood in the spring and they will stubbornly wait for their prey. A year can wait. So the tick sucking at other times is also quite possible.

The above is typical for Ixodidae; Argasidae drink blood all the warm season, although in spring it is also more.

Blood-drunk tick
Blood-drunk tick

Prevention and protection against ticks

The regions that are unfavorable for tick-borne encephalitis are the north and east of the European part of Russia, the south of Siberia, and the Far East. In these places, there is the possibility of infection with a tick bite. In all other places, ticks are also not harmless and are carriers of a wide variety of diseases - viral, bacterial, caused by protozoa. Better not to mess with them. The tick itself is unpleasant, and, together with its vampire manners, even disgusting.

Gathering in the spring in the forest for mushrooms, ferns, or any other need associated with climbing bushes and in the thick of last year's grass, it is advisable to dress accordingly. Clothing should make it as difficult for ticks to attach as possible, as well as the ability to get to the body.

The smoother the fabric, the harder it is for the tick to grasp and stay on the surface. Tight cuffs make it difficult to penetrate warm and soft areas of the body. Trousers tucked into socks generally disorient ticks: catching and moving up, the tick does not find anything suitable in terms of food.

The second line of defense is based on the sensitivity of mites to odors. It is advisable to spray the upper part of the suit and headgear with appropriate repellents before going out into the forest.

Mites, among other things, cannot stand the smell of formic acid (ants are terrible enemies for them). And also - some essential oils: eucalyptus, tea tree, mint, cloves. Apparently, according to the ticks, normal food doesn't smell like that. The Vietnamese "Star" is also good. In general, all strong perfumery smells should signal the tick - this is not food!

Bloodsuckers are found not only in the forest, they are in parks, squares, in summer cottages and backyards. In the spring season, using repellents with natural ingredients such as essential oils or formic acid will help keep ticks away.

We have a good result showing eucalyptus oil: spray on the slicker and comb the dog. You have to scratch every 5-7 days, but in the spring it molts, and you still can't get out of this procedure.

Biting tick
Biting tick

If the tick nevertheless stuck …

In the first year of our stay in the Kuban, we missed the beginning of the tick season: we had never expected this misfortune in early April. The first tick, already well drunk, I saw on the dog's face.

Feeling the shaggy dog ​​helped to find a dozen more, and the shaggy cat - three more. In this climatically strange season, I removed the tick from the dog in early March. I twist the ticks with tweezers, carefully so as not to tear my head off. Methods for pulling out the ticks are different: with a thread, a bottle of oil, but tweezers have taken root. A similar method can be used to remove a tick from a person.

In humans, it can be more difficult to remove a tick, because the tick gets drunk for a long time, and within a few hours this place will surely comb out. The ticks are still small and it is very easy to tear off the head. There will be inflammation if it stays there. So you need to be careful.

The tick itself must be put in a jar and taken to the laboratory in order to know if there is any infection in it and to carry out treatment in a timely manner, if anything.

By the way, there is an interesting hypothesis that by infecting a person with transmitted viruses and bacteria, ticks thus inoculate us and train our immunity. Quite possible.

Natural enemies of ticks

The very first enemies, as already mentioned, are ants and ground beetles, they eat mite eggs with pleasure and in large quantities. After the larvae hatch, there are many times more people who want to feast on them: spiders, wasps, dragonflies, lizards, frogs and a variety of birds (thrush, tick-eating weavers, sparrows, starlings).

In the state of a nymph, fungi are added to all of the above infections (nymphs have such specific diseases with a fatal outcome).

And when a tick grows to an adult state, it often acquires its own parasites. And this is facilitated by one of the species of the wasp Hunterellus hookeri Howard, which lays its eggs in the tick.

Unfortunately, many human actions, seemingly aimed at destroying ticks, lead to the opposite result. For example, burning grass in wastelands helps to kill tick pests, but the ticks themselves tend to survive. It's the same with pesticide treatments. Ants and ground beetles will die, and larvae will emerge from the eggs (17,000 in one nest!). They will always find a mouse to feed. And then people and dogs will be waiting.

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