Tick Quest

Questing tick with its two front legs stretched out. (Photo by Owen Clarkin)

While out doing bio-inventory work deep in the Carp Hills on Saturday, 23 May, Owen Clarkin took this photo of a tick “questing” with its two front legs outstretched ready to latch onto a host. Here is information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about this behaviour.

“Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some species can even recognize a shadow. In addition, ticks pick a place to wait by identifying well-used paths. Then they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and shrubs. Ticks can’t fly or jump, but many tick species wait in a position known as “questing”.

While questing, ticks hold onto leaves and grass by their third and fourth pair of legs. They hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to the host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear, or other areas where the skin is thinner.”