A subclass of arthropods in the class of spiders. The most numerous group in the class: more than 54,000 species, including 144 fossils, are currently described.
Ticks are small arthropod animals of the spider family, which have been living on the planet for several million years. Since they live mainly in the soil, their activity period falls at the time when the soil warms up to +5 degrees. Many of the representatives of this subclass are carriers of the most severe diseases, such as tick-borne typhoid, encephalitis and borreliosis. The number of species of ticks strikes and is fixed by about 50 thousand, but researchers divide the subclass itself into three groups: haymakers, parasitiform ticks and acarimorphic ticks.
Types of ticks
For many people, “ticks” are just those that live in the woods and bite animals and people. But there are a huge number of ticks in nature, divided into species and distinguished by their diet and way of life. Some species of ticks we will now look at. The classification of ticks distinguishes three distinct groups.
Hayfever mites are arthropod species that live in the tropics and subtropics. They get their name from the structure of their hind legs, which are long and massive and resemble hay mowers. The mite itself reaches up to 3 mm in size and is considered one of the largest of its fellows. Its head is combined with the thorax to form a single part separated from the abdomen. The diet of these mites includes fungal spores, pollen and other smaller insects.
Ixodes ticks are vectors of encephalitis in the majority of cases. They are especially active during May-July; the insects live in grass or bushes and come to humans precisely from the vegetation. Moving from underneath, the tick looks for a suitable place with thin skin, most often it is wrists, neck and head.
Argus ticks differ from other species in that they hunt year-round. They live in dark and hard-to-reach places such as nests, caves and various crevices. When there is a shortage of consumed blood, argasic mites hibernate. However, it only takes them half an hour to be completely saturated with blood, and only a minute to infect a victim with a serious disease.
Subcutaneous mites live under the human skin, as their name suggests. They develop and live under the skin for quite a long time, until they are removed by feeding on dead cells. Acne, itching and severe redness occur in the affected areas. Infection occurs from carriers of the disease through towels, touching and personal hygiene items.
Scabies mites are able to move from animal to human, causing a disease such as scabies. Infection from other people through household items, especially bedding and combs, is also common.
Bed dust mites live in pillows, blankets, and mattresses and feed on dust and detached particles of dead epidermis. They do not feed on human blood and cannot bite. It is impossible to see dust mites with the naked eye, they are microscopic. Very often they are confused with bed bugs, which feed on human blood.
Spider mites live on plants, feed on their sap and wrap their web around them. Plants wither and die if action is not taken in time. Mites can be found almost everywhere in the world, except at the northernmost latitudes.
Terrestrial mites prefer high humidity, so they usually live near water, in bushes, mosses, animal burrows, or in grass and fallen leaves. There is an opinion that the mite lives in trees and can fall on its victim from above at any moment. This is not true, as mites are not able to reach a height of more than one meter, so they prefer to hunt from the grass, from branches of low bushes like blueberries or from fallen leaves. This is why you must beware of “resting places” when hiking. Most often ticks wait for their prey in paths on the grass or near the forest road. But in pine forests, where humidity is much lower than in deciduous and mixed forests, it is almost impossible to find ticks. Mites’ preference for a warm place of residence is also proven by their prevalence in barns with baked goods or grain, apartments, and even deep layers of human skin. Can ticks jump and fly? None of the mite species can fly, so there is no need to fear attack from the air. But can ticks jump from the branches of trees and bushes? No, they are not capable of jumping. Their main method of attacking a victim is to cling to it. Ticks do not prefer to climb higher than a meter and a half, but that is quite enough for them. In case of a threat such as a fire, ticks simply unhook themselves from a branch or blade of grass and simply fall down. Some may call this a jump, but it is just an uncontrolled downward fall.
How do ticks reproduce and lay eggs? Forest mites reproduce after they are fully saturated. After fertilization, the female must feed on blood for about 10 days to produce offspring. She is capable of laying 5,000 eggs at a time, which in the first stages after birth are on low plants. Then, after the larvae emerge, they need to find a host – a vertebrate animal that will supply them with blood. This is what will allow the larvae to develop into nymphs (older individuals).
This is not the end of their growth. To become an adult, ticks again need to find a victim and drink blood. The time it takes for the parasite to grow from a larva to an ordinary adult tick is determined by two years. In favorable conditions it is reduced to 5-6 months.
Mites use special apparatus for their food intake: chelicerae or tentacles that crush food and pedipalps that chew it. Arthropods that feed on blood and plant juices have modified limbs: pedipalps are fused and perform the function of piercing the skin or outer shells of plants, and chelicerae form proboscis with serrations for reliable attachment. These are all stabbing-sucking mouthparts. Ticks that feed on solid food (flour, seeds) have a gnawing mouthpiece. The chelicerae are transformed into pincers, and the pedipalps perform their original function of chewing. Mites are divided into two species according to the way they eat:
Saprophagous – individuals that feed on the remains of organic matter. This includes plant sap, decaying organic debris, millet, flour, particles of detached human epidermis, and subcutaneous fat;
Predators – Mites suck on vertebrates and feed on their blood. They can live for up to 3 years without food, but they are still constantly on the lookout for their prey and waiting for an advantageous moment. How does a tick bite and where does it bite most often? The process of the tick’s sucking on the victim is divided into two sorts: passive and active. The first involves the tick dwelling in the grass, bushes or near paths, where just a lot of people or animals congregate. Without exerting any effort, the mite, having found the future host, succumbs to it. But this happens only when the legs of the person are open, because the tick attacks from below. However, clothes do not hinder the mite from attacking – it will crawl upwards along the clothes and find an open section of the body. The second method of attack is an active one. It is based on instinct, as the tick senses its prey and makes its way to it in every possible way. Following its incredibly sharp senses, it makes its way closer to the grass by crawling on it and waits for a person or animal to approach. When the victim comes to an optimal distance, the tick spreads its two clawed front legs forward and clings to its fur, skin, or clothing. If the target is lost, but the tick, driven by hunger and instinct, continues to pursue it.
The places with the thinnest and most delicate skin seem to be the most attractive places for ticks to bite. As already mentioned, these include the neck and head. But also great attention should be paid to examining the groin area, armpits, chest and abdomen, because most ticks keenly sense the smell of sweat, which attracts them very much Having suffered from a tick bite, it is impossible to say for sure that there will be no further serious consequences. The thing is that many representatives of this species are carriers of terrible diseases for humans.
Among the most serious are encephalitis, Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis.
Also widespread are tick-borne typhus, tularemia, babesiosis and spotted fever. All tick-borne diseases lead to extremely severe conditions, often ending in disability and an extremely long rehabilitation period, and sometimes death. Lyme disease – symptoms, consequences, treatment Lyme disease (tick-borne borreliosis) is provoked by the bite of a tick, which is a vector of spirochaetes and is called an ixodes. Infection occurs after the saliva of the infected spider gets into the wound on the skin. There are also known cases where a person himself, while scratching the skin, rubs the infection from a crushed tick. The main symptom after an injury is a red spot, the surface of which rises above other areas of the skin, with a white center, which then turns into a crust and a scar. Already in 1.5 months there are disorders of the nervous system, heart apparatus and joints. Paralysis, insomnia, depression, and hearing loss are common. The outcome of this disease is usually not fatal, but the effects on the heart can pose a serious danger. To treat Lyme disease, specialists prescribe taking antibiotics (from 2 weeks), in more severe cases they are administered intravenously.
Encephalitis – symptoms, consequences, treatment Encephalitis is one of the most severe diseases, which is an acute disorder in the brain. Its cause lies in the immune system, which mistakenly attacks its own tissues. Encephalitic ticks live in many forests in Europe and Russia, but avoiding their visits is not guaranteed to save you from the disease – ticks often hide in branches and hair. It is surprising, but even drinking the milk of infected cows or goats can infect a weak body with encephalitis. Spread of the virus occurs in 1.5 weeks, affecting the gray matter of the brain, accompanied by convulsions, paralysis or paralysis of certain muscles or entire limbs. After the entire brain is affected, severe headaches, vomiting, loss of consciousness are observed. The consequences are very severe – disability and, in rare cases, death. To treat encephalitis, doctors prescribe intravenous immunoglobulin, and antiviral drugs are mandatory for prevention.
How to protect yourself from ticks? There are a few simple rules that everyone can follow to avoid tick bites: clothes that securely cover all parts of the body, especially hands and feet; headgear; closed and high shoes, or pants tucked into it; clothes in light colors, which are easier to see a tick; treatment of exposed skin with repellent; inspection of yourself and loved ones every half hour; refusal to collect flowers, twigs and plants. Repellent A repellent is a type of tick repellent. The spray can be sprayed not only on clothing but also on the skin, but you should make sure that it does not weatherize and repeat the procedure again. Particular attention should be paid to the areas of the armpits, abdomen, neck and wrists – most often ticks to bite choose them. Of course, this remedy is not an exact guarantee that all ticks bypass the person, but still, the use of repellents at times reduces the likelihood of being bitten. Acaricide agents These agents are the most powerful and effective. The substance used in the spray affects the tick’s nervous system, which makes its limbs go numb. But you must remember that acaricidal agents are extremely harmful to the skin and, moreover, they should not be inhaled. Adults should treat their clothes, but in no case putting them on, wait for some time so that everything finally dries, only then put them on. One spraying with such an acaricide spray will have an effect for about two weeks. Insecticide-repellent means This type is considered the most convenient and reliable, because it combines two means together, and therefore not only repels ticks, but also paralyzes them. The convenience lies in the fact that the remedy is allowed to be applied to skin and clothing. In addition, the preparations fight not only ticks, but also other blood-sucking insects, which also carries its own benefit – the mosquitoes will not be pestered.
Vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis, the most severe tick-borne disease, is done so that the human immune system can recognize the virus and begin to fight it. To begin with you need to see a therapist, who will advise you where it is best to perform this procedure. It is important to keep in mind that it can be done only in hospitals licensed to perform this type of vaccination. In case of improper storage of the drug, the effect of the vaccine is useless, and sometimes dangerous. In Russia, preparations of domestic, German and Austrian manufacture are used.