They’re clever little beggars. They don’t climb above your swing set and jump on your kid’s heads as they swing. They don’t jump from trees or vegetation if you walk near them. They waste no energy, but lay in wait for the perfect host to brush by them. They climb to the very tip of a leaf or blade of grass and stretch out their first pair of legs waiting to grab onto any host that brushes by. Once aboard, they quickly climb upwards to find a dark, near-hidden place to latch on for a blood meal.
Ixodes pacificus Dave Macchia
Hard ticks feed for extended periods of time on their hosts, varying from several days to weeks, depending on such factors as life stage, host type and species of tick. The outside surface, or cuticle, of hard ticks actually grows to accommodate the large volume of blood ingested. In adult ticks that can be anywhere from 200 to 600 times their unfed body weight.
Well-fed and hungry Ixodes ticks. The unfed one may be a male looking for a meal. Anders Madsen photo.
From web article on meat allergies.
The pursuit of that last meal is an act of suicide. Once replete with blood, the female tick drops to the earth, lays 4,000 to 10,000 eggs and dies. If she has failed to find blood her eggs will not survive. It is in great part luck that brings a mammal close to her perch. The longer she can wait, the more likely a mammal will pass by. Her patience is remarkable. At the Zoological Zoo in Rostock, starving ticks have remained alive for 7 to 18 years.
Now there’s a rear-ender. Cut in; couldn’t wait. Not like a tick.
p.s. If you find a tick on you or your dog do not rush to pull it off. That simply decapitates the tick leaving the mouthparts anchored in the skin which can cause a local infection, quite apart from the risk of disease. Better to smear the tick with petroleum jelly, especially the back of its body because this is where it breathes. Being suffocated causes the tick to release its grip. You can then remove it easily by twisting it close to its head (tweezers help). Wash and disinfect the point of attachment and keep a watch on the bite. If a rash starts to develop (as distinct from the normal inflammation following a bite), see a doctor or vet quickly. I have spent enough time in the woods, often walking a dog, to have gently unscrewed 100s of ticks from myself, other humans or dogs without jelly or tweezers, but suffocating the tick helps.
p.p.s. Climate change has welcomed a new tick to Canada from the south. It is still relatively rare but will spread. It’s bite can cause an extreme allergy to red meat. The species is distinctive.