How Long Do Ticks Live?

Image of a Tick

How Long Is the Tick Lifespan?

Most New England tick species are three-host ticks, which means they need to feed on three animals or people to finish their life cycle. Many ticks die before they find a suitable meal to help them develop into adults. However, if successful, a tick can live up to three years.

How Long Do Ticks Live on Hosts?
If undisturbed, a tick may live on a host for few hours to a few days as it feeds. The time a tick needs to take a blood meal depends on its species or stage of maturity.

Tick Life Cycle

The typical tick lifespan includes progressing through the egg, larva, nymph, and adult stages. These pests require blood for each phase of their development. The typical life cycle progresses as follows, though some ticks only take about two years to reach maturity and reproduce.

First Year
During the fall, tick eggs hatch into larvae about the size of a grain of sand. Larvae often wait out the winter cold, then find and feed on a host in spring and summer. Tick larvae remain attached to a person or animal for around three days before dropping to the ground.

In the autumn months, larvae advance to the nymph stage. Once they reach this phase of the tick lifespan, the pests remain inactive when temperatures are below freezing. However, even warm winter days may prompt some tick nymphs to search for a meal.

Second Year
In the spring, ticks wait on stalks of grass to latch onto a passing person or animal. Upon finding a host, the nymph feeds. These ticks live on the second host for about three to four days before detaching to transform into adults and overwinter.

Third Year
Adulthood marks the last year of the tick lifespan. Adult ticks take a final meal in the spring and feed for as long as 10 days. Female ticks mate during the summer, lay a few thousand eggs in the following months, and die shortly afterward.

Tick Prevention & Control

New England residents need to be cautious when walking through tall grass and should always check themselves for ticks after outdoor activities. Because of the long tick lifespan as well as the pests’ small size, an infestation can be tough to control. Contact the experts at Waltham Pest Services to identify pests at any stage of life and deal with infestations.

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