First-stage tick larvae are often called seed ticks. They hatch form egg clusters and then immediately start looking for a host for a blood meal.
The tick life cycle is composed of four stages: egg, larvae, nymphs and adult ticks.
The larvae hatch from eggs deposited by the female. They immediately seek a host for a meal. These stages are capable of surviving long periods of time without a meal. They can be in grass and low growing plants for weeks to months, just waiting on you or your pet to walk by and provide them a meal.
Seed ticks are very tiny and typically measure less than a millimeter in length. They look like a poppy seed. Larvae have 6 legs where the adults have 8 legs. They make look like a small speck of dirt on your skin or on your pet.
Seed ticks engorge themselves on a host’s blood, then drop to the ground, molt, and them develop into immature nymphs.
The tick larvae wait on leaves of low-growing, scrubby plants and blades of grass so they can latch onto a nearby host. This is known as “questing”.
The most common problem caused by seed ticks is their tremendous numbers of them that you find. Individuals may unknowingly walk by thousands of these tiny bloodsuckers. Any uncovered skin or pet fur is quickly swarmed by hungry larvae needing a blood meal. They can remain attached to one host for several days before falling off. It all depends on the species of tick how long they stay attached and feed.
Even in their larval stage, ticks carry a number of diseases that can infect humans and pets including: tularemia, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and lyme disease.
You should keep grass cut short and eliminate food sources. Any creature that has blood can be a meal for ticks. Proper rodent and pest control are essential. Birds, squirrels, snakes and other creatures that may live outside can be a source of ticks. Because the ticks grab a blood meal, then fall off in the environment.
If you have questions about tick diseases and tick control contact your veterinarian. Dr. Norette L. Underwood of Trumann Animal Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org or 870-483-6275.