Ticks – Quick Links
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Arthropoda Subphylum: Chelicerata Class: Arachnida Subclass: Acarina (or Acari) Superorder: Parasitiformes Order: Ixodida Superfamily: Ixodoidea (hard ticks) / Argasidae (soft ticks) / Nutalliellidae
Ticks are Arthropods, which means that they have jointed limbs. They come from the family Arachnida (‘eight-legged’) and are closely related to spiders, scorpions, mites and harvestmen. Ticks are from the order Acarina and are parasitic (feeding on the living tissue of a person or animal – the host). They are ectoparasites, which means that they are external parasites, living on the outside of the host’s body.
Tick can be endophilic or exophilic. Endophilic ticks remain within their host’s nest or burrow throughout their life cycle. Exophilic ticks actively seek their hosts out.
Ticks can be hard bodied or soft bodied. There are three families:
Ixodids occupy more habitats and parasitize a greater variety of animals than argasids. They will choose all manner of mammals, reptiles, and birds as hosts and are vectors for a variety of diseases. Humans and companion animals become incidental hosts, because of their presence in the tick’s habitat.
Over the years there has been a steady increase in the distribution and density of ticks, which is caused largely by human impact on the habitat and the wildlife hosts of ticks (Randolph et al.), but also may be due to climatic changes.