Ticks must feed on the blood of an animal (the host) in order to grow (molt to different stages) and reproduce (lay thousands of eggs).
Most ticks go through one inactive stage (egg) and three active stages (larva, then nymph, and finally adult) in their life cycle. The whole life cycle takes 1 to 2 years and the tick must feed (take a blood meal) once at each active stage. A blood meal takes several days to complete.
Ticks don’t fly or jump. Rather, a tick climbs to the ends of blades of grass or weeds and waits quietly with its front legs extended until it can grab onto a passing host.
Ticks can spread diseases to people, pets, and other animals. Germs that may be present in their saliva are transmitted as they feed on the person or animal. These germs include the bacteria and viruses that cause such serious diseases as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and human ehrlichiosis.
Not all ticks are infected. However, you can’t tell if a tick is infected or not just by looking at it. Therefore, it is important to remove any tick that is attached to your skin as soon as possible. Ticks that are just crawling on you cannot transmit diseases.
Ticks are most common in woods or overgrown places where the ground is covered with leaf litter, thick weeds, or high grass. These are the areas where ticks are not only protected from the harsh drying effects of the sun and wind, but also where their animal hosts (such as mice and deer) live.
Ticks may sometimes be found on well-mowed lawns, or even inside your home. This is because they drop off of pets or other animals that cross over or enter these areas.