How Ticks Bite

How Ticks Bite

Ticks bite by first finding a host organism and latching on with use of sticky pads on their feet. They then crawl to an area of the body that is warm and moist, like the armpits, the groin, or even the ears. Once in a suitable location, the tick pierces the skin and embed its mouthparts into the skin where it can drink the blood of the host. It then becomes engorged with blood and, eventually simply falls off. The amount of time a tick feeds on a host varies, but adult females may feed for several days or even over a week if left undisturbed.

Why Ticks Bite

Ticks require a meal of blood in order to grow and survive. This is the reason that ticks bite hosts in the first place; they need nourishment from the blood to develop from one life cycle to the next. If they survive to adulthood, they can leave behind the next generation of ticks.

Where Ticks Bite

The specific places on the body that ticks gravitate to are called “hot spots” and include the armpits, behind the knees, the groin area, and in the hair of the host. Ticks prefer a warm, moist environment, so these locations are ideal spots from which the tick can take its blood meal. These are the primary areas where tick checks should be conducted while out in the wilderness or even after being in your yard or garden.

Once a tick has fully engorged themselves on a host’s blood, they will remove their mouthparts from the skin and fall off of their host. Engorged ticks that are full of blood will appear blue-gray in color and will be much larger than their initial size. These ticks can then go for quite a long time before needing to find their next host to feed.

It is important to remember that tick bites do not hurt, so they are often not noticed. There could be some minor bite location itching that occurs, but most of the time tick bites go undetected for quite some time. For this reason tick checks and tick prevention are vital.
If a tick is found in your home or even outside, and it has not yet bitten someone, it is safe to submerge the tick in alcohol in a bag and toss it in the trash. This will kill the tick and ensure it does not bite someone. If you simply throw the tick away, it could get out and go on to bite again. If the tick is found and has bitten a person or pet, it is best to preserve the tick in a plastic bag. Do not submerge in alcohol, and get it tested for possible diseases.