Ticks are members of the arachnid family, along with spiders and scorpions. They are ectoparasites, feeding on the blood of an unsuspecting host. The tick itself is not particularly dangerous, but it can carry a whole host of nasties with it so you should take care not to be bitten. They tend to climb long grasses and attached themselves to passing animals – including people.

About 2-3 millimetres long, you have to admire a tick’s ability to survive. As you can see, ticks are black so it is good idea to wear light clothing when in tick-infested areas so that you are more likely to spot them. If you are walking with your dog then you should definitely check him or her for ticks. Bloody ears are a good sign that your dog has been scratching to get rid of an attached tick.


Once on your body, the ticks climb up to somewhere safe and warm. For some reason, the groin area seems a popular choice so make sure you check down there. When they bite, a neurotoxin in their saliva means that you may not feel them bite you as they insert their mandibles and feeding tube into your skin.


After hiking in a tick-infested area, take a shower as soon as you can and hopefully get someone to check your body for ticks in places that you can’t easily see (in your hair for example).

It should be mentioned that the vast majority of ticks do not carry the vectors of Lyme disease and other illnesses, but that does not mean you can be complacent. Ticks should be removed as soon as they are discovered. If the tick has recently landed, they can simply be brushed away. If they have bitten you and have attached themselves, then it is a little harder to remove them.

engorged tick
Tick with rucksack – a tick engorged with blood – the text is font size 10.
Tick swelling
The swelling left by the tick. If the tick’s head comes off while removing it, you should see a doctor. The rash should be sprayed with a disinfectant such as an iodine spray though it may remain itchy for days even after the tick has been removed.

Practical information

For more practical tips on how to avoid ticks and what seems to be the best advice on how to remove a tick, try this site.

For more background information about ticks. try this one.


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