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For growth, and later for reproduction, larval, nymph and adult ticks feed on blood. Most ticks typically search for hosts below adult knee height by questing—holding on to vegetation with their back legs while raising their front legs, enabling them to grasp on to hosts as they pass by. Lone star tick also actively walk toward its prey, even across pavement or sandy areas.

Ticks are leisurely feeders, feeding for multiple days. After inserting their mouth parts, they inject chemicals that prevent itching and inflammation, maintain blood flow, and cement the tick’s attachment on the host.

If having a tick feeding on your blood for up to a week isn’t bad enough, ticks can also transmit the pathogens that cause tick-borne diseases and cause other health problems while feeding. Different tick species transmit different disease-causing pathogens. Importantly, ticks can transmit more than one type of disease-causing pathogen at a time, and the list of pathogens continues to grow.

See answers to your questions about tick-borne diseases here.

Poster showing tick-borne diseases and non-pathogenic impacts
Click on the image above to view a larger size.

Below is the progress of Reported Cases of Lyme Disease in the United States 2001-2018, from CDC: Statistics