Reproductive ability of ticks is enormous, female can produce 2500 to 4000 eggs. Each developmental stage can have resting stage about 6 months to 1 year before sucking. This parasites are able to survive cold as well as dry year seasons. They are the most active within wet and warm seasons.
Life cycle of tick includes three stages: larva, nymph, and adult. The larva hatches from eggs and is very small. Its size is about 0.8 mm and possesses just three pairs of legs. Larva usually sucks on small rodents, but it can also infect people. Larva cannot be normally found on the body until it is sucked and the place of sucking is itchy. This is about two days after infection. Sucked larva seems like pinhead or scab. It can be easily scraped or shaved without notice which can lead to infection of Lyme disease so-called without tick.
Pictures of ticks are taken on graph paper for illustration of their real size.
After sucking, larva falls off and then can undergo metamorphosis from larva to nymph.
Nymph is little bit bigger than larva, about 1.2 - 1.5 mm and possesses four pairs of legs. Nymph usually sucks on bigger animals - hares, hedgehogs, but also dogs, cats, and people. This stage is the most common among people´s infections.
Nymph and larva
After gain enough energy (blood), nymph also fall off and undergo final metamorphosis to adult (imago), female or male, which is able of reproduction. If it is female or male it can be distinguish just with the naked eye. Female is usually bigger (2 x 4 mm) and visually two-colored. There is behind the head of female black-brown scutum while the rest of abdomen is orange-red. In contrast to this, male possesses much bigger scutum that covers all abdomen making it much darker. Only female sucks blood. Its orange-red abdomen enables multiple expansion during blood sucking.
Coloring of sucked females is caused by different ratio of sucked blood and lymph.
Male does not suck blood, but its aim is to fertilize female. Adult female uses much bigger animals than nymph as a source of blood - deer, foxes, cattle, black game, horses, dogs, cats, and people. It sucks one or two weeks then it lays eggs and dies. Developmental cycle of tick is long and it lasts 2-3 years in our latitude. Thanks to this tick serve as keeper of infections in nature because all three stages are able of transmission of different pathogens. Sucking of blood represent good way of infection transmission.
Male and female
Video: Male trying fertilize female
Copulation of ticks