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Understanding the Tick Life Cycle

 

Completing the Cycle

 

Depending on the species of tick, the entire life cycle can take from two months to years to complete. There are some species of ticks that only require one host (or sometimes two) to complete their life cycle. Hard ticks will typically lay eggs on the ground in protected areas during the spring. The brown dog tick is the exception in that it may lay its eggs indoors. As ambient temperature and moisture levels rise, eggs hatch into larvae. Larvae feed and molt into nymphs during late summer.

 

Nymphs will be inactive during winter and then start feeding again in the spring. After feeding and molting into adults through the summer months, the ticks spend the fall season feeding and breeding. Males will die off, while the females survive through winter and lay their eggs again the next spring.

 

Soft ticks differ from hard ticks in that they will develop through several nymph stages, slowly increasing in size until a final molt results in the adult. Their life cycles can take much longer than hard ticks, up to several years in duration. Soft ticks are even known to be able to survive long periods of time without access to a blood meal from a host.

 

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No matter the species or type of tick you encounter on your pet, it’s best to remove them carefully and completely. Know how to remove a tick safely before attempting it, as a poorly conducted removal can cause damage – to you and/or your pet.

 

If you live an in area where ticks are prevalent, or if you are going to be taking your pet to a location that is known for ticks (e.g., wooded areas and open, grassy areas), protect your pet by applying a tick collar, a spot-on, or a spray to prevent ticks from making a meal out of your pet this summer.

 

Even with tick repellants, make sure to do a full inspection of your pet whenever s/he has been outside in an area known for harboring ticks. Vigilance is the best protection against tick borne diseases.

 

Image: Linda Tanner / via Flickr

 

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