There are several types of ticks and they have some differences in their appearance. Rather than go through all the descriptions of the ticks, this article will only concentrate on the tick which is most dangerous to humans, and this is the black-legged tick, otherwise known as the deer tick. These ticks are of particular concern since they are carriers of the Borrelia burgdorfelli bacteria which are the causative agent of Lyme disease. This disease is very hard to detect and the effects can last a lifetime, even after being treated. The disease, even when completely treated, will still exhibit symptoms, since the bacteria affect the immune system to the point of causing an autoimmune reaction where the T-cells in the body attack healthy cells. By attacking healthy cells, the body starts developing sores, arthritis, and other conditions similar to those caused by ageing. Here are some of the characteristics that will help you in identifying a deer tick.
1) The first thing that you should do is to remove the tick properly so that you do not leave the head in your skin. If you leave the head in the skin, it will still transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. In order to remove the tick fully, you should use twigs to scrape it gently off. Pinching it with your fingers will cause it to pass fluids into your body, and this will still cause Lyme disease. You can place the tick in a vial, or put it on a white piece of paper and cover using cellotape.
2) Take a magnifying glass and take a look at the body. The first thing that you should notice is that the tick has eight legs since it is an Arachnid. They are dorsal-ventrally flattened just like most crawling creatures.
3) The body resembles a tear from the top and they do not have eyes on the head. This is because the head has to be inserted into the skin during feeding. If it has eyes after the second pair of legs, then it is not a deer tick, but a dog tick.
4) The deer tick is a hard-bodied tick and will have the characteristic dorsal shield of this class of ticks. If you find a dorsal shield then you could be dealing with a dog tick, lone start tick, or a deer tick.
5) Ticks do not jump or fly, but they crawl instead. You should watch the kind of movement that your specimen exhibits.
6) Take a tape measure and place it next to the tick. A deer tick is the smallest of the hard-bodied ticks and is about 2mm in length, when young, and can reach 5mm when fully matured.
7) Take a look at the color of the tick. A male deer tick has a brown color, while the female has a distinct reddish-brown abdomen. If you see the reddish brown abdomen then you can safely conclude that you have been bitten by a deer tick.
These are some of the most common characteristics of the deer tick. As earlier mentioned, this is the most important to human beings since it is the only one that can spread Lyme disease. The disease can be debilitating, and early treatment improves the chances of survival. Since it is a disease that progresses slowly, sometimes without symptoms until it is too late, it is crucial that you get a description of the tick that bit you, or take it to the doctor with you. He should be able to know if it was a deer tick or not.