If you have been curious about what do ticks look like, recognize first that these are parasites, unqualified pests. As parasites, they need a host to feed on and that host could be your pet or it could be you.
Tick pictures give you an idea about how tiny they are with varying colors and sizes. That is because there are different types of ticks that prowl the world, about 850 species. Wingless and without the ability to jump, they crawl up on plants, grass or animals. This is their usual means of transportation going to other hosts. Without animals to serve as movers, they simply lie in wait for a possible host to brush near against a plant where they cling to and then drop or fasten themselves onto their prey.
What Do Ticks Look Like
- The color and size may depend on the type, the gender and stage in its life cycle.
- The color may also change after a tick has fed and has become engorged.
- Most ticks in nymph stage are about the same size as a poppy seed (1.5mm) while the newly-hatched (larvae) measure about 0.5mm and look just like a grain of sand.
- An adult female tick is about 3mm (about the same size as a sesame seed), flat and oval in shape but could grow to almost 11mm after feeding and could swell like a miniature balloon.
- Male ticks are generally smaller than female ticks, about 2.5mm.
While they are very small as tick pictures suggest, you must never let the size fool you into thinking they can’t do you any harm. Ticks can infect you with several types of diseases such as Lyme or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
As to what do ticks look like, you are likely to be confused by their differences if you are still unfamiliar with their physical characteristics. Some have white markings on their backs such as the adult dog ticks which are also generally bigger than blacklegged ticks. You may sometimes be alerted by a bite when it happens but most often than not, the bite goes unnoticed such as that made by a blacklegged tick, a bite which is practically painless.
Basic Description of Commonly-Known Ticks
Blacklegged or Deer Ticks
- Adults appear as dark brown to reddish but they may be difficult to see during larvae stage.
- Nymphs, as tick pictures show, have four pairs of dark-colored legs but as larvae, being in development stage, there are only 3 pairs; all of which are designed to be able to attach firmly.
- The dorsal area of the adult blacklegged tick has no distinguishing marks.
- Female blacklegged ticks could turn from yellowish to gray or darker brown depending on how engorged they become after feeding.
American Dog Ticks
- Adult females are reddish brown in color prior to feeding and are about 6.35mm.
- The dorsal shield of a female covers only the front part of the dorsum. It has a predominantly reddish brown color, marked by a silver/gray pattern. The dorsal shield of the male covers its entire dorsum.
- As larvae, they have 6 legs where another 2 develop upon reaching nymph and adult stages.
Lone Star Ticks
- This type is the easiest to identify even without tick pictures as guidance because of the distinctive white star-like spot on their dorsum.
- The shape of lone star ticks is more rounded compared to other types that appear to be more like tear shape.
- Adult female can balloon to up to 16mm or bigger after feeding but on an average, the size is 4mm to 6mm.
- The color of the female adult is reddish brown while the male adult is a deeper brown.
Brown Dog Ticks
- What do ticks look like, as mentioned above, depends on the type and the brown dog ticks are distinctive in their elongated shape.
- These ticks are well-adapted to indoor living that’s why they feel at home inside your houses especially if there is a handy supply of food such as your dog. They can still survive the outdoors though.
Whatever the type, ticks will always require blood for their meals in order to survive from one stage to the next. They will not hesitate to feed on whatever is within their reach. Knowing how to spot them, eliminate them, avoid them and foil any infesting attempts at your home or your pets will help prevent the spread of tick-borne diseases.