Do you love the great outdoors? We sure do! Whether you like to camp, go canoeing, take a hike or just go for a leisurely walk, there’s nothing quite like enjoying nature’s beauty.

Of course, it can be a little dangerous to venture out into the great outdoors. If you’re hiking, you’ll want to keep a close eye out for snakes, for example. Some of the most dangerous creatures, though, are also some of the tiniest. What are we talking about? Ticks!

Have you ever been playing outdoors and later found a tick attached to your skin? Ugh! No one likes it when these little parasites bite and burrow under your skin. Not only can it hurt, but it can also make you sick.

Ticks are part of the arachnid family of insects, which means they’re related to spiders and scorpions. There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks and they can be found just about everywhere on Earth.

Two of the most common ticks in North America are the deer tick and the dog tick. These ticks, like all other ticks, attach themselves to the skin of humans and animals. Why? So they can suck your blood!

It’s true. Ticks are like mythical vampires. Unlike vampires, though, ticks are very small. Some look like tiny specks of dirt that are no larger than the head of a pin.

As if drinking your blood wasn’t bad enough, ticks can also carry diseases. For example, some ticks carry bacteria called spirochetes. Ticks can transmit the bacteria to humans, causing an infection known as Lyme disease. Another common disease many ticks carry is called Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

If you find a tick on you, tell an adult and ask for help in removing it. Over the next few days, watch for symptoms that you may be coming down with a tick-borne illness. Common symptoms include flu-like symptoms (such as feeling tired and achy), fever, headache, stomach pain, or a red rash that looks a bit like a bullseye.

If you suspect a tick-borne illness, see a doctor right away. Most tick-borne illnesses can be treated easily with antibiotics and have no lasting effects.

77 Join the Discussion

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    • We hope you stay tick-free, Wonder Friend Kate! It’s a good thing you’re here today so you can prevent ticks this spring! It’s important to check yourself for ticks after being outside! Thanks for sharing your comment, Kate! :)

    • Hey Romi, thanks for sharing your comment! We learned a lot about ticks today, including how they live! We know insects aren’t always the loveliest topic, but we’re glad you learned something new today! :)

    • Hey there, Luke and Faith! Thanks for sharing what you have learned from today’s tick Wonder! We are glad you’re well-prepared for the spring season ahead! :)

  1. Tick bites sound like they really hurt. We think it’s pretty disgusting that ticks suck the blood from animals and humans that they latch on to. If the tick is not removed in time, the person can get lyme disease which can be harmful.

    • Thanks for sharing what you learned with us this morning, Mrs. Kemp and our Wonder Friends in class! It sounds like you’re in the same boat as some of us here at Wonderopolis– ticks are something to avoid! Thank you for sharing what you learned about ticks today… and how to stay away from them, too! :)

  2. Hi Wonderopolis!
    Our class really enjoyed the video about ticks and Lyme Disease! (Armani) When we had to look up the word “borne” in the dictionary, we realized that it was actually the past participle of the word “bear!” We really had to do some digging! It helped us understand dictionaries better! (Rosalea) Thanks to your video, we have some ideas about what to wear when we go outdoors. (Chase) Thanks to you, we know about ticks and that they suck on blood! Ouch! (Jayln) We now know to look out for little ticks when we go outside in the spring. Questions: (Armani) Does bug spray, like OFF keep ticks away? (Mrs. Cannon) Do tick bites hurt? (Rosalea) My aunt says that tick bites don’t hurt because she’s been bitten by one before. Luckily, she got it out in time and did not get Lyme Disease. (Renee) Could ticks be in MY backyard in Indianapolis? (Alexis) Why do you wear WHITE when you’re outdoors to keep ticks away? (Keith) Could a baby tick carry Lyme Disease, too? Thank you, Wonderopolis!

    • That’s SUPER news, Cannon’s Class!

      Armani, Rosalea, Chase, Jayln, Renee, Alexis, Keith and Mrs. Cannon: you are Wonder Champions! We are glad to hear you continued to discover new Wonder words, like borne (and the origin of the word, too)! You’re well-prepared for your next adventure outdoors, and you can tell your family and friends about preventing Lyme Disease, too!

      Thank you for sharing all your comment, connections and questions from today’s Wonder! YOU ROCK! :)

  3. Hi I am from CP and I only got bit by a tick one time so I know how it feels. I think that tomorrow’s wonder will be the golden rule.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment and the link to the second video, Brian! We’re so glad we could Wonder with your help! :)

  4. Hi Wonderopolis,

    The video about the ticks make ticks sound really dangerous because you can get sick or badly hurt! Ticks are GROSS!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about gold or gold mining. We learned about this on a field trip we took.

    Thank you!!!

    • We’re oh-so-glad you’ve been WONDERing about ticks with us today, Ms. G’s Class! We hope you all stay away from ticks this season, and we are glad you’ll know how and where to check for them after a spending a day outside!

      We look forward to our shiny Wonder tomorrow… we Wonder where your field trip took you? It sounds like a WONDERful way to use your imagination and learn something new! :)

  5. _____________________________________________________________________
    Eeeeew I always hated ticks!!! :( And Spiders!!! :(
    I Wonder What’s Next?
    Tomorrow’s Wonder Of The Day Is Simply Golden!!!
    A Golden Retriever Or 20k???
    See You Next Time!!! :D :D :D D:

    • Hey Max, we’re glad you’re here today, even though ticks aren’t your favorite topic for WONDERing! We love your creative predictions for the next Wonder of the Day®! Keep up the great work! :)

    • How right you are, Benman47– ticks are definitely something we want to avoid! We are glad you read all about the Wonder today and we’re so happy to read your comment! :)

    • Hey Meg, no need to worry, we’re proud of you for WONDERing with us today! Now you know how to check for ticks after you go outside, so you can stay tick-free! :)

    • Oh no, we hope you’ll enjoy your outdoor adventures, Wonder Friend Ally! Ticks live in humid places like the forest and there are ways to prevent them from finding you. You can spray certain chemicals on your clothing (a type of bug spray for ticks) and you can check yourself after you’ve been outside for the day! We are proud of you for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Keilani! Insects can be creepy and crawly, they’re bugs after all! We’re happy that you’ve been WONDERing with us, even if the topic makes you squirm! :)

  6. My mom keeps telling me about how scary ticks can be. Now I believe it! I just showed her the video.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend MT! It’s so cool that you and your mom have been WONDERing together about ticks! We know that insects aren’t always the most warm and fuzzy Wonder to talk about, but it sounds like you both learned something new today! :)

  7. I have seen ticks before but I have never been bitten by one. I never knew that they carried diseases though. Thanks to you I learned something new!

    • Hey Wonder Friend Vedha, it’s so great that you’ve been WONDERing with us about ticks today. It’s important to know how to look for them and how to keep them away, too! We are glad to hear that you’ve learned something new with us- thanks for the comment! :)

  8. Yes a tick can make you sick, black legged can give you Lyme disease look it up in the search bar and it will show you a video of two different types of ticks bye see you next time bye.

    • We’re so glad you explored Wonderopolis to learn all about ticks, Shakira! We bet you’re prepared for your next outdoor adventure– no ticks for you! :-)

  9. Hello wonderopolis the thing that you put the ticks is gross.
    But ticks can be dangerous. If found ask a grown up to remove it.

    • Hey Jordan, thanks for WONDERing about creepy crawly insects with us- we are glad you learned how to deal with ticks! You did a super job of summarizing what you learned and why we all need to stay tick-free! :)

  10. I have seen my brother get bitten by a tick, but luckily he did not get sick because it was there for only a short time. I sure do not want to get bitten by a tick!

    I had two on me before (thankfully no diseases) and they hurt trying to get off. You do NOT want to know where one of them bit me, trust me!!!

    • We sure are glad you’re okay, Tyler! Thanks for telling us about your tick experience– we hope you’re tick-free in the future! :)

    • We hope so, too, Wonder Friend ST from Rockin’ Room 16! We’re glad you know what to look for the next time you and your awesome dog head outside! :)

    • Oh no, that’s no fun, Wonder Friend Matt! We’re sorry to hear that you’ve encountered ticks before, but we hope you’ll be tick-free in the future! :)

  12. TICKS ARE VERY SCARY!!!!! They remind me of SPIDERS, WHICH TOTALLY FREAK ME OUT!!!!! Lyme Disease is really SCARY and I hope I NEVER get it!!!! Also I think that tomorrow’s wonder will be about FORT KNOX!!!! : ) : ) :) :) :)

    • Hey there, Happy Girl! We are proud of you for WONDERing about ticks, even if they give you the shivers! We are glad you’re fully prepared to stay away from ticks now that you’ve read our Wonder! Keep up the great work WONDERing and thank you for sharing your prediction for the next Wonder, too! :)

    • We’re sorry to hear that, Carbgirl! We are glad you checked out our Wonder about ticks and we hope you don’t run into then again! :)

    • We know the thought of ticks can make our skin crawl, Tony, but as long as you check yourself for ticks after you’ve been outside, or in the woods, you’ll be in great shape! :)

    • We’re glad you know that ticks need to be removed from us, Gretchen! You’re doing a great job of keeping yourself safe and healthy! :)

  13. Dear wonderopolis,

    I HATE getting ticks they are HORRIBLE I don’t get them a lot though! That’s a great thing; my old dog died because he got lyme disease from a tick because we went hiking a lot!!! :(

    • YIKES, we’re glad you’ve been tick-free, Wonder Friend Julianne! We’re so very sorry to hear about your dog, but we bet he or she was a WONDERful pet! :)

    • Thanks for telling us more about Happy, Julianne! We bet he was a great pup, and we’re sorry to hear that he passed away. However, it sounds like you have some WONDERful memories with Happy! :)

  14. My sister claims her dog got multiple sclerosis by tick/s. The dog couldn’t walk & she had to put her down. What is your understanding of this?

    • Hey L! We are sorry to hear about your sister’s dog. It is tough to lose a pet! It is hard to say exactly what causes Multiple Schlerosis (in humans) or Degenerative Myelopathy (in dogs). Hopefully now you know to always check for ticks – on you OR a pet – after walking in the woods or another area. Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today! :)

    • Don’t worry, Kynsley, we are glad you learned all about ticks with us! However, just check yourself after you’ve been outside for a long period of time – it’s a great way to avoid ticks and a way to stay healthy! :)

  15. My 4yr old had a tick on her today and it was engorged and huge…not sure where she got it but all of a sudden she said her head hurt…doing some research of color and size, im pretty sure it was a dog tick…im wondering if it can make a human sick or not. Im kinda concerned after reading a few things. If anyone can help me out, that wld be great. Thank you.

    • Hi Christa,

      Yes. Any tick can make you very sick. If you suspect a tick-borne illness, see a doctor right away. Symptoms that you may be coming down with a tick-borne illness include flu-like symptoms (such as feeling tired and achy), fever, headache, stomach pain, or a red rash that looks a bit like a bullseye.

      We hope your child is feeling better soon!

  16. ive had like 1,000,000 tick bites and i’ve never got if your telling me you ticks can make you sick,your lying

    • Goodness, Caleb! A million tick bites is SO many! We’re really glad you have never gotten sick from them, but some folks have gotten illnesses like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever from being bitten by ticks. Fortunately, not all tick bites result in getting sick, but if it happens, most illnesses can be treated with antibiotics. :)

  17. I am super scared now of going hiking enyomore and I am super scared because I am in North America but I still love to go to the outdoors and enjoy

    • Don’t be too frightened, Pavit! Taking a few precautions can help ensure you’ll stay tick-free, including using a bug spray that includes a tick repellant and checking yourself for ticks or enlisting in the help of a parent! It can also help to avoid hiking in areas during the height of tick season (often noted by your local parks or forestry department). Happy hiking! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can a tick make you sick?
  • What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
  • How can you avoid getting ticks?

Wonder Gallery

906Vimeo Video

Try It Out

We hope you enjoyed today’s Wonder of the Day! Keep the learning going by exploring one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Do you know what ticks look like? If you’re going to be doing much hiking or playing outdoors, it’s a good thing to know what you’re trying to avoid. Jump online and look through the Tick Photo Gallery to see what these tiny but dangerous insects look like up close. What do you think? Are they scary? Have you ever seen one in person before?
  • Is there anything that you can do to avoid those tiny little vampires we call ticks? If you live in an area where ticks are common, there are a few steps you can take to stay away from them. Always stay on the cleared path where you are less likely to brush against grass and leafy branches. Ticks like wooded, grassy areas. If you’re going to go hiking or play in those areas, be sure to cover up! Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, long socks and a hat. Even if you cover up, though, there’s still a chance that a tick might find its way onto you. When you’re done hiking or playing, take a bath or shower and check yourself for ticks. Ask your parents to help you check hard-to-see areas. Be sure to check your hair thoroughly, as ticks love to hide there! If you do find a tick on you, be sure to get an adult to help you remove it, using tweezers to grab it by the head and pull it out firmly and slowly. If Lyme disease is common in your area, you may want to save the tick to have it tested by a doctor.
  • Up for a challenge? Why not learn about some other Bloodsucking Insects? That’s right! Ticks aren’t the only insect vampires around. In addition to mosquitoes, there are several other insects that are happy to feast on your blood. Learn more about them and how to protect yourself from them!

Still Wondering

National Geographic Xpeditions’ Insects We Love and Hate lesson is about insects rather than parasites, but it teaches children about some insect parasites (e.g. mosquitoes and lice) as well as about insects in general. You can see pictures of insects that bite and sting, and others of insects that don’t bother people. Then classify insects into likeable and not-so-likeable categories and draw pictures of insects that people like and don’t like.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is simply golden!

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