Ticks are born as small six legged larvae, less than 1mm in size. The picture below gives a relative size guide to a coin. They feed on small rodents such as mice or birds. The larva will begin to molt and develop two more legs and mature into nymphs. These nymphs begin to search for larger animals, where they will mature into adults, feed and mate. They are able to detect carbon dioxide from passing animals and lay in wait in tall grasses, bushes and overhanging branches. Unfortunately, humans, pets, farm animals as well as wildlife are prey to the waiting tick.
Research has shown (authored by Prof. Gray of University of Dublin) that ticks collected in the areas of County Kerry, Galway, Connemara and Wicklow do carry the borrelia bacteria. It is important to be aware and protect yourself when in areas ticks may live. See our Preventing Tick Bites section for some simple precautions to help keep you safe and what to do if you are bitten.
The first two pictures were reproduced with permission from Dr. Keith Ryan who conducts the Dartmoor Tick Watch.
Check out Tick Talk Irelands pictures of ticks which were collected in 2012 here