Ticks are categorized in the class of Arachnida, phylum Arthropoda. Even if your Latin is rusty, you might recognize Arachnida as the class of creature that also includes insects such as spiders, scorpions, and mites. While ticks are a hassle, be glad that most of us don't have to worry about keeping scorpions off of our cats.
Arachnida are characterized by four pairs of segmented legs and a body that is divided into two regions.
- There are over 800 species of ticks worldwide and they all feed on the blood of mammals, birds and reptiles.
- The two families of tick are called Ixodidae (hard ticks) and Argasidae (soft ticks). The Ixodidae have a hard dorsal scutum (shield). Argasidae have a soft exoskeleton with no scutum.
- While one would seem to be weaker, both groups unfortunately have the ability to transmit disease.
- The saliva of the hard tick has an anesthetic effect at the site of the bite.
- The saliva also helps keep the blood flowing by keeping it from clotting while the tick is feeding.
- In many hard ticks, the saliva also acts like cement, helping to anchor the tick in place and making it harder for you to remove it.