Ticks are hardy acarids, having their body more or less covered with hard plates. The adult females engorge themselves with blood once, leave the host, lay eggs and die.
All ticks pass through 4 stages : egg, larva (seed tick), nymph and the adult. Both male and female distend their bodies greatly when they take a blood meal.
The brown dog tick must have blood, usually dog’s blood if it is to develop. The adult ticks get attached to the dog and after feeding for a few days, they mate and the females rapidly fill with blood. When fully engorged, the females drop off. The males may stay on the animal for weeks after the females drop off.
The engorged female hides away in a crack and in 3 to 30 days depending on the temperature begins to lay eggs- 1000 to 2000 in number. The female dies soon after the egg laying. The eggs may hatch in 19 days when it is hot but they may have incubation period of nearly 5 months.
The seed tick can live about 2 months without food. When a dog is at hand they attach and engorge in 3-7 days. When full they drop off and hide in cracks. Within 6 to 20 days they moult to become 8 legged nymphs. The nymph can survive without food for about 2-5 months in warm weather but may live up to 5 months. When they find dogs, they attach and engorge in 4-10 days and again drop and hide moult in 2-3 weeks into adult males and females. They in turn seek a dog upon which to feed and the cycle is completed.
The unengorged adults may be found hiding in cracks or crawling about on walls or floor near the sleeping places of dogs. They attach to the dogs on any part of the body but especially on the ears. They are occasionally confused with bed bugs but are smaller than adult bed bugs and are not associated with the sleeping places of man. The engorged females may be found in cracks behind window casings and base-boards but often crawl upward and may get behind pictures, picture mouldings or crevices. Egg masses are found where the females settle down.
Masses of seed ticks are seen where the eggs are laid or crawling about on the floor and walls. The unfed and engorges nymphs are found near the sleeping places of dogs and of course on the dogs themselves. They prefer warm, dry climates which our interiors of home provide. They are most active and abundant during summer.
Effective eradication would call for treatment for the dog and the house simultaneously. The former has to be attended by the client with the help of a veterinarian. The treatment for the house has to be a complete one with intensive inspection 2-3 fortnightly treatments in succession for the dog and the house may be necessary to achieve desires results.
Every place that is frequented by dogs is a potential source of trouble; therefore basements, kennels, porches and outhouses should be checked and given attention.
In the spraying of homes extra attention should be given to spraying about windows and doors as well as baseboards, mouldings, and openings around the window-cord pulleys. The tick eggs are normally laid high upon the wall and when the eggs hatch, the young ticks are inclined to move down from the wall to the hiding places- hence the necessity of particular attention to the places indicated, as well as to folds in curtains and drops.