Types of ticks

Ticks fall into two main groups, hard ticks and soft ticks.

Hard ticks

Figure 1. Morphological features of hard ticks (family Ixodidae). Example is an adult male and an engorged adult female cattle tick (Rhipicephalus australis) photographed from above (dorsal) and below (ventral). Photographs courtesy of Constantin Constantinoiu.
Figure 1. Morphological features of hard ticks (family Ixodidae). Example is an adult male and an engorged adult female cattle tick (Rhipicephalus australis) photographed from above (dorsal) and below (ventral). Photographs courtesy of Constantin Constantinoiu.

Hard ticks (family: Ixodidae) have a shield (scutum in females, conscutum in males) that covers the whole back of male ticks and only the front part of female ticks’ bodies. Their bodies are flat and their mouthparts are elongated with rows of backward pointing teeth. This group includes all of the economically important ticks of cattle including cattle tick, bush tick, and paralysis tick.

Soft ticks

Figure 2. Morphological features of soft ticks (family Argasidae). Example is a female poultry tick (Argus persicus). Photograph courtesy of Daktaridudu [CC BY-SA] Wikimedia Commons.
Figure 2. Morphological features of soft ticks (family Argasidae). Example is a female poultry tick (Argus persicus). Photograph courtesy of Daktaridudu [CC BY-SA] Wikimedia Commons.

Soft ticks (family: Argasidae) have a wrinkled leathery appearance when they are unengorged. Only a few species of this type are found in Australia. Argasid ticks spend only short periods of time on the host, and do not have the complex attachment to the skin that ixodid ticks have.