Ticks are ectoparasites that feed on the blood of mammals, reptiles and birds. These pests are arthropods and related to mites, spiders and scorpions. Ticks are sorted into two different families. Hard ticks are in the Ixodidae family and soft ticks are in the Argasidae family. Ticks can transmit a several dangerous diseases including Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks grow in stages by molting. Some tick species just need a single host to feed from and develop while other species will feed on multiple hosts throughout their lifecycle.
Ticks are small and oval-shaped with eight legs. Their bodies get larger when they are engorged with blood. A hard tick has a rigid plate called a scutum on the upper part of its back and its body is narrower toward the bottom. A soft tick does not have this hard plate and its body is broad and does not taper.