Ticks have several stages, including egg, the six-legged larva, the eight-legged nymph, and adult. The six-legged larva is also sometimes referred to as a seed tick. Seed ticks appear in the spring and autumn. Young ticks—seed ticks—will wait within grass or smaller trees for a host animal. It will then make its way onto the animal, mosey around, and attach itself. It then eats and fills up with blood. At this point, most ticks will fall from the animal and move to the following stage: the eight-legged nymph. It then finds another host animal to which it can attach itself. The same pattern continues. It eats until it is engorged with blood, and then it drops and is an adult. The tick then looks for another host animal, mates, devours blood, and the female tick then drops from the animal to deposit eggs.
When a tick finds a host, it often empties excretions, which may have pathogenic organisms. These organisms can then pass into the body of the host.
People can successfully avoid getting seed ticks—or a tick at any stage—by staying away from places where ticks dwell. If in places where ticks are found, it’s important to not rub up against any vegetation. Shirts should be tucked in and socks pulled up on pant legs. It also helps to spray insect repellent on pants and shoes.
After arriving home from hiking or other outdoor activities, it’s wise to check for ticks. Check yourself, your kids, and your pets. Often ticks will be found before they have attached themselves and started to eat. If it has already attached itself, here is what to do: using dull tweezers, grip the tick as close to the skin as possible. The bite should then be disinfected.