Understanding the life cycle of a tick and the different stages it goes through can help prevent and effectively eliminate populations before they become a problem and infestations persists. Ticks have 4 distinct stages to their life cycle; Egg, Larvae, Nymph, and Adult. There are dozens of different tick species that are commonly found across Canada. Two of the most common types are Black Legged ticks (formerly know as the Deer Tick), and the American Dog tick. Black Legged ticks are the common vector for Lyme Disease. Infected ticks can spread the disease to humans and dogs through their bite.
Ticks feed on three hosts during their during their development because the larval, nymphal and adult stages each require nourishment in the form of a blood meal.
Mated females lay thousands of eggs on the ground. The eggs hatch into larvae or "seed ticks" which only have 6 legs. Female adults die after egg-laying is complete.
Eggs hatch into larvae know as "seed ticks". Larval stage ticks only have 6 legs. These larvae remain close to the emergence site and climb up on grass and low vegetation so they may attach themselves to small animals which pass by (Mouse, squirrel, rabbit, bird)
After feeding for 2 to 9 days on their hosts, the larvae drop to the ground, digest the blood and then moult into the 8-legged nymphal stage.
Nymphs attach themselves to a second host and obtain a blood meal on small mammals. After feeding on these hosts, the nymphs moult to the 8-legged adult stage.
Ticks are adapted for prolonged periods of starvation. The entire life cycle may require 3 years to complete.
After an adult female attaches itself to a host, it often takes up to a week to complete its feeding. Once the female has become engorged, it drops to the ground, mates and lays its eggs. Mating can also take place on the host before or during feeding. Adult males die after completing fertilization.