Would you like to quickly introduce yourself to our readers?
Okay, so firstly hi to all, I am a tick and some of you may have seen some of my friends and family around already. We are pretty social creatures and you can find us in most places – including on your pet! You may not know that we are related to spiders and scorpions and have eight jointed legs, which means we are excellent at scuttling quickly away when discovered.
Could you just describe what you look like for some of our readers who may not have met a tick before?
Well, I have a small head, my eight legs and a smooth oval body. Size-wise I am about 2.5mm in length. Female ticks expand when they feed and so are bigger – my wife can expand from 3mm to around 10mm long after she has had a good meal!
When I am unfed, I am close to black in colour but I turn a very becoming brown-grey colour after feeding. Some of my other tick friends are brown in colour and turn a salmon pink or purple colour after feeding.
What’s your favourite time of the year?
I really enjoy both the spring and autumn, as it’s just the right weather for ticks like me (warm with plenty of humidity) and it’s when our population is the busiest. That said, I’m partial to a bit of summer sunshine (although if it gets too hot, I can dry up) and a mild winter.
Tell us, where do you and your tick friends like to ‘hang-out’?
Every tick knows to stay out of any direct sunlight, as it can quickly dry us out. Long grassy areas, woodland and spots where there is dense vegetation, are perfect for us.
Personally, I hang out in the local park with my other tick friends, it’s a great spot as there are long grasses and bushes to hide in. Finding a meal is easy too, as plenty of cats and dogs also visit the park.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I generally like nothing better than to perch on a blade of grass or on the edge of a leaf with some friends and wait for an animal or person to brush past. I can then hitch a ride and have a bite to eat at the same time – a delicious way to travel!
How did you meet your tick wife and do you have any offspring?
It all happened one spring when I was a young adult tick just waiting for my next meal. A keen young Labrador brushed past the piece of grass that I was perched on. So, I took the opportunity to climb on board and that was when I spotted her, she was sat feeding just inside the Labrador’s left ear. We were very blessed and had 2000 lovely tick babies together, who are now growing up and busy travelling the country.
What’s your favourite food?
Well, my favourite food is blood, which I get from feeding on hosts such as mammals (e.g. dogs, cats, rabbits, hedgehogs) and birds. I generally feed for a few days, then once I am full I will drop off my host back onto the ground.
What sort of things do you dislike?
My number one dislike are the FRONTLINE® spot-on products (FRONTLINE® Plus and FRONTLINE® Spot On), which are toxic for us ticks, and a lot of pets seem to be wearing them these days! They kill ticks within 48 hours of contact with the product. Many ticks won’t even have had the chance for a last feed. Every tick knows a friend who has fallen victim to a FRONTLINE® spot-on product…
Other dislikes include hot dry weather, as we can become dehydrated and shrivel up. Oh, and pet owners that groom their cats and dogs regularly – this is very unfortunate for us, as combs and brushes can easily result in a tick being decapitated. We especially dislike the ones that use a special tick remover to twist us out of our spot!
On a more positive note, what things do you like?
I love warm, humid and damp weather and pets that have not been treated with a FRONTLINE® spot-on product.
Have you ever done any travel?
No, but just recently I have noticed an increase in the number of exotic tick relatives that are arriving in the UK. They seem to hitch a ride back on pets that have travelled with their families abroad. Many of these guys can survive over here, as long as they live indoors in shelters or kennelled areas.
What are the downsides of being a tick?
Unfortunately, some of us ticks can carry nasty infections that we can pass onto our hosts as we feed, causing serious diseases like Lyme disease and canine babesiosis.
Thank you so much for your time today, I hope you have a good journey back to your park.
This interview with a tick is fictional and written for educational purposes.
Content provided by FRONTLINE®, visit their website at http://uk.frontline.com/ for more information and handy guides on Flea and Tick prevention and treatment.