Feared blood leecher

There are around 850 tick species in the world of which about 20 can be found in Sweden, although not all of them can survive the winter here.

Appearance and characteristics

Our most common tick lacks eyes. When it senses movements in the vegetation, carbon dioxide or scents, it sweeps with the front legs and grabs the passing victim. Host animals can be mammals, birds or reptiles. The legs are covered with short thorn-like hairs and have a small claw at the end. The claws and hairs help the tick both to stick to the vegetation and to grab hold of the host animal it wants to suck blood from. The mouth parts of the tick consists of two feelers (palps), two sharp jaws that cut through the skin and a barbed syringelike hypostome to suck blood with hypostome.

Feeding and catching

The saliva contains both anesthetic, which prevents the host from noticing the bite, and a substance that prevents the blood from clotting. In addition, the tick secretes a cement-like adhesive that hardens and holds the hypostome in place while the tick sucks blood. The skin is very elastic, and the adult tick swells up enormously during the meal and gains 100 times its weight. When the tick stops drinking after 3-5 days (larvae) or one to two weeks (adult), the adhesive dissolves and the tick drops to the ground. Ticks can spread several severe diseases such as Lyme, Tick-Borne Encephalitis, Babesiosis and Meat allergy.


When the adult tick has matured and sucked blood, she lays 1,000 - 3,000 eggs on the ground in dense vegetation.

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