Although there are roughly 850 different kinds of ticks, the two main egg-laying patterns relate to whether they belong to the “hard tick” or “soft tick” sub-group.
Hard ticks start out in larvae form as beings with six legs. By the time they have been fed by vertebrate hosts and nurtured to adulthood, they have added two more limbs for a total of eight. The female hard tick’s mission in life really is to reproduce, because after she lays 1,000 eggs or thereabouts, she then keels over and dies. Remarkably, the cycle of this process can extend up to three years in some cold climate areas. Soft ticks on the other hand transition through various, indistinguishable life phases between the larvae and adult, egg-laying stage. Females lay multiple batches of eggs in between feedings, rather than the single fatal load of the hard tick female.
Generally speaking, female ticks look for off-the-beaten track locations to lay their eggs, the equivalent of a hiding place. This applies to both ticks that are on a host organism such as a dog or cat and ticks that are in the wild in other species’ nests. The Brown Dog Tick female for example may lay as many 3,000 eggs after crawling into a suitable hiding or host location place.
It takes about a month for tick eggs to hatch, which is why the infestations on household pets can sometimes reappear several times. Unlike fleas, ticks do not jump away when detected, so they are to a certain extent easier to capture and dispose of when observed in a pet’s coat. Because it is more difficult for ticks to find one another in the wild, they mate typically while still on a host organism. Male ticks that mate die soon after the encounter. The blood-feeding patterns of an adult tick cause little discomfort, adding another relatively more difficult layer to their detection.
“Common Ticks.” Illinois Department of Public Health Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2011. http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pccommonticks.htm.
Vredevoe, Ph.D, Larisa . “Background Information on the Biology of Ticks .” Deparment of Entomology, University of California, Davis. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2011. <entomology.ucdavis.edu/faculty/rbkimsey/tickbio.html>.