Ticks are blood-sucking external parasites who live most of their lives in the grass, waiting for hosts to pass by. Some species are attracted to dogs and attach to them by inserting their heads through the hosts' skin and feeding on their blood. Ticks can't breed on dogs, but they mate while attached to their hosts and need to feed on blood to develop into adults and to breed.
In the fall, adult female ticks search for a host such as dogs and feed on them for eight to 12 days. When the females are engorged with blood, they mate while still attached to their hosts. The ticks fall off after mating, the males die, and the females remain inactive in the vegetation over winter. In the spring they lay thousands of eggs in dense vegetation or cervices near the ground; about two weeks later, the larvae hatch.
Larvae move into grass, searching for hosts. After hosting up, they feed for a few days and typically fall off the host. The blood meal enables the larvae, over two to three weeks, to grow into nymphs. Over winter, the nymphs remain dormant in the vegetation. In the spring they will need to feed on a host's blood before they can detach and molt into adults, to start the cycle again in the fall.
- Caring for Your Dog; Dr. Bruce Fogle; 2002
- VeterinaryPartners.com: Ticks: Arthopod Parasites
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