Ticks are the vampires of the bug brigade, gorging on blood for survival. The Rocky Mountain wood tick swells to many times its original size after a grand feast. Bloated on blood, the sucker drops off its weakened host.
The adult wood tick is armed and dangerous, with a hard shell and a ruthless bite. Rocky Mountain wood ticks are best avoided. At all stages in their life cycle, they can transmit tick-borne diseases to humans, cats, and dogs. In most cases, the victim has just 24 hours to remove the tick from the skin (by grasping it with blunt tweezers) before the body is infected.
At home in the higher ground of Colorado, USA, the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) is a three-host species. It feeds three times in its three-year lifetime – as a newly hatched larva, as a nymph, and as an adult. While small creatures suffice for its first two feeds, this tick’s last supper features deer, sheep, or even people!