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Tick Life Cycle


Though some of the life stages of a tick go by slightly different names, they are in essence no different from any other life form: they start out as babies (larva), move on to the teenage phase (nymph) and then finally hit adulthood. But where things get different is how they survive through each stage. They suck the blood of their host organism during each separate life cycle tier, dropping off that animal or human in-between to molt and become the next stage.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Fittingly perhaps, it is at the “teenage” or nymph stage that ticks most commonly pass on Lyme disease to their host organisms. Ticks are most common in the wilderness because they tend to prefer deer over all other types of animals such as horses, dogs and cats. Lyme disease is a very strange illness. Its symptoms mimic many other ailments, the signature rash does not appear in one third of the infected cases, and 25% of the victims are children. It can also take up to six weeks before a blood test of a Lyme disease victim will show positive. And though Lyme is not something spoken about that frequently, the infected deer ticks that spread it are very common. For example, in California, they were found to be present in 42 of the state’s 56 counties.

Hard Ticks Lice Cycle

For hard ticks, or Ixodidae, the full life cycle can range from one year in tropical climates to up to three years in colder regions of the world. Within this group, ticks are also categorized by how many host organisms they attach to within their life cycle: some are one-host ticks, others are two-host ticks and some are three-host ticks for each stage of the life cycle. By contrast, the life cycle of soft ticks, or Argasidae, are far less distinguishable. Although they tend to live much longer than their hard counterparts, they have a wide variety of life cycle patterns, including in some cases many regenerations during the nymph stage.



California Lyme Disease Association – Tick Life Cycle, Retrieved November 24, 2010 from

California Lyme Disease Association – Risk Map of California, Retrieved November 24, 2010 fro

University of California, Davis – Background Information on the Biology of Ticks, Retrieved November 24, 2010 from

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