Adults are large, about 1/4 inch long even when not engorged with blood.
What Do Soft Ticks Look Like?
The soft tick is tan, light brown or dark reddish brown. The front of its body is rounded and projects over its mouthparts, which are located on the ventral side. The top of the body is egg-shaped and flattened.
What Do Soft Ticks Eat?
Soft ticks are blood feeders and must find a host for food. Unlike hard ticks, which feed for several days on a single host, soft ticks feed several times in each stage of their growth, usually for about 30 minutes at a time. They ingest anywhere from five to ten times their unfed body weight. The outside surface, or cuticle, of soft ticks expands, but does not grow to accommodate the large volume of blood ingested.
What Do Soft Ticks Do?
Soft ticks are easily distinguished from hard ticks because their head and mouthparts cannot be seen from above; they are situated beneath the overhanging front of the body. While soft ticks are most commonly associated with birds or wild mammals they will bite humans, and several important diseases are associated with them, including Relapsing Fever.
How Do Soft Ticks Reproduce?
After each blood meal, the female soft tick lays small batches of 20-50 eggs. The entire lifecycle is generally much longer than that of hard ticks, lasting over several years.
Interesting Facts About Soft Ticks:
Soft ticks have an uncanny resistance to starvation and are capable of living for several years without feeding. They often seek hosts by waiting on low-lying vegetation; however, the vast majority are nest parasites, residing in sheltered environments such as burrows, caves, or nests.