Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Nature Bulletin No. 25   July 28, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

Ticks seem to be unusually plentiful this year. Many persons walking through the upland woods of the forest preserves have found these insects on their clothing, on their bodies, even in their hair. In the pinewoods of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan it is not uncommon to find a hundred or more ticks crawling up your clothing, and there it is necessary to carefully search every inch of your body for ticks, every night.

Never try to pull one off after it has firmly attached itself to the skin. Otherwise the head may remain. Touch the body of the tick with a lighted cigarette, or a wad of cotton soaked in alcohol or gasoline, and the insect will drop off.

Ticks are large mites, They have a needle-like, toothed probe on their heads, with which they pierce and attach themselves to the skin, and through which they suck the blood of their host. They have four pairs of legs and can move quite rapidly. The common wood-tick has a flat, reddish-brown body about 1/8 inch in diameter before feeding. Left alone, the females gorge themselves until four times their unfed size, after which they drop off to lay their eggs.

There are many kinds of ticks parasitic on mammals, birds and reptiles. Many carry organisms that infect their hosts with dangerous diseases such as biliary fever in dogs, spirillosis in fowls, heart-water sickness in sheep, and Texas fever in cattle. Orgy two species are known to be dangerous to humans. One is the African tick carrying a spirochete causing relapsing fever. The other is the Rocky Mountain spotted fever which occurs in our western states, but not in Illinois. Tularemia, or rabbit-fever, is transmitted from rabbit to rabbit -- or occasionally from birds to rabbits -- by a species of ticks, but ticks do not transmit this dangerous disease directly to man.

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