The tick two-year
Ticks and their hosts
From egg to larva to nymph to adult stages, the Ixodes tick vector needs several
intermediate hosts to complete its two-year life cycle.
back to top
- Larva lies dormant in the winter, but in the spring, the six-legged tick larva matures
into the eight-legged nymph and begins feeding on infected reservoir hosts, such as a
mouse, and becomes infected. It is this mouse-tick-mouse cycle that maintains the Borrelia
- Ticks then carry the organism with them as they move through their various life cycles,
eventually infecting other wildlife species such as deer and small mammals, and
ultimately infecting accidental hosts such as humans and dogs.
- The nymph and adult stages of the Ixodes life cycle are the most likely to
transmit Lyme disease in dogs. When the tick bites the new host, Borrelia
organisms are regurgitated from the gut, secreted from salivary glands and injected into
the dog's skin.
- Because the tick lives on multiple hosts during its life stages, the Borrelia
burgdorferi organism is spread among various populations of small mammals, deer
and ultimately dogs and humans.
- The size of a sesame seed or smaller, nymphs and adult ticks are extremely hard to find,
especially when they hide in a dog's coat. This is why pet owner tick checks are
seldom 100 percent complete and why compliance may be low.
- Preventing canine Lyme disease requires a comprehensive Lyme disease control program
including tick prevention, tick checks and Lyme disease vaccination.