What you need to know about ticks

Story highlights

  • Ticks live off the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians
  • If infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites, a tick can pose a risk to human health

(CNN)As summer heat descends, replacing balmy spring breezes, ticks are becoming active in many regions of the United States. In the coming months, some experts predict that ticks and the diseases they cause will be more abundant due to warmer winter temperatures. Worry, though, is unnecessary since prevention is possible.

Here's a simple guide to all things tick:

What are ticks?

    Ticks are not insects, said Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. They are arachnids, and like their relative the spider, they have eight legs when they reach adulthood. Life begins as an egg, and then ticks develop through larval and nymphal stages before reaching maturity.
    "People should realize that ticks do not jump. They do not fly, and they do not drop from trees," Molaei said.
    To survive, ticks must e