We’ve all heard the term “When pigs fly”- It is a hyperbole used to indicate the impossibility of something happening. This term would be equally correct if one were to substitute the word tick for pig. Ticks can not fly and they can not jump. If you see a small insect jumping around quickly it is certainly not a tick. Many tick species can however wait in a position known as “questing”. This is a maneuver where a tick holds onto grass, leaves or twigs by their third and forth pairs of legs. They then hold their upper of first pair of legs outstretched in hopes of attaching to a victim (host). Once they sense a potential host closing in they extend out and instantly attach as it passes. If one locates a tick embedded in their head there is a near certain likelihood that the tick climbed all the way to the top of the person after starting out near the ankle.
Most ticks have four stages in their life cycle and need to find a blood source to feed off in the three stages that come after simply being eggs. These stages are six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adulthood. Ticks can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle- though most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. They can be microscopic in size but are one of man-kinds most dangerous enemies.
Unfortunately ticks have several abilities once they are on a host that make them difficult to detect. They can secrete small amounts of anesthetic saliva which can numb the human or animal’s skin from being able to feel it entering the blood system. A tick can take anywhere from a few minutes up to two hours to begin feeding on a host once it has found an optimal location. It grasps the skin and cuts into the surface. This allows it to insert a feeding tube through which to draw the blood. A tick will feed for days on a host and ingest any blood-born disease. Conversely, the tick is also sharing its’ own possible ailments with the host. The most abundant one being Lyme’s disease. This is more likely to occur at a later stage of life as the tick has by then attached itself to different hosts prior to the current one.
Ticks locate hosts by detecting any of the following- body heat, body odor, moisture, vibrations or breath (the last one a major indicator used by mosquitoes). We have developed our Organic Eucalyptus Lemon Oil Insect repellent using only plant based ingredients. In addition to the oil we rely on distilled white vinegar as a natural tick deterrent. Our bug spray is now in its third season and receives rave reviews. Ticks thrive in wet environments and studies have shown that their survival rates plummet in dry environments. Late April though June are high tick season in the Northeast United States so be sure to check yourself for ticks after being out in any grassy area or woods.