There are around 850 species of ticks in the world but only about 90 species are found in the US. Ticks fall into two categories consisting of hard shell ticks and soft shell ticks.
- Soft shell ticks: This type of tick can live longer than hard shell ticks, usually around 10 years. They appear to have a leathery, wrinkled type of skin and are mostly nocturnal, living in caves, nests and burrows. Their mouthparts are located on their undersides. This type of tick really thrives in hot and dry climates and do not always stay attached to their host. They leave intermittently to lay eggs and can lay hundreds at a time. A few common types of soft shell ticks are the common fowl tick and the relapsing fever tick.
- Hard shell ticks: Hard shell ticks have harder external shells and mouthparts that are clearly visible from the top. They like to stick to grasses, weeds and brush in wooded or field areas, waiting for a host to come wandering by. These hard shell ticks lay anywhere from 3,000 to 8,000 eggs in a single batch. It is the female’s last job before it dies, completing its life cycle. Common types of hard shell ticks are the deer tick, brown dog tick, blacklegged tick and lone star tick.
In Pennsylvania there have been 25 types of ticks identified but the four most common are the American dog tick, the blacklegged tick, lone star tick and the groundhog tick.