Ticks have a four-stage life cycle: egg, larva, nymph and adult. The tick mates when it is on the host’s body. After mating, the female tick drops to the ground and lays her eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae must feed on a host. After this first meal, they drop again to the ground and shed their skin to emerge as nymphs. The nymph will then find a host, feed, then molt and become an adult.
Wood ticks are a three-host tick, which means they need to feed off of a different host in the various stages of their lives. Females will feed until they are fully engorged, while males will feed and then look for a mate. After the mate is found, they return to feeding.
Ticks have no means of locomotion except crawling. Since they feed on hosts that are much larger than they are, ticks must climb up tall weeds or fences to wait for their food sources. Ticks locate their prey through vibrations or odors, jumping on to the host when it passes by.
Wood ticks feed only from mid-March to mid-July; so that is the only time humans can contract this disease. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever begin with a rash within 2-5 days of being bitten. The rash appears on the wrists and ankles. This disease can be deadly. Wood ticks can also transmit tick paralysis and other painful diseases. If you are bitten by a tick and suspect Rocky Mountain spotted fever, seek medical attention immediately.