Mosquito Squad of Chelmsford & Cambridge Change Location Get a Free Quote

Cannibalistic Ticks: Can This Be Real?

Posted by Mosquito Squad

April 7, 2018

Just when you thought you’d heard everything, right? Crazy as it is, this is a real thing. Recently a study was released by researchers from Georgia Southern University, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game describing tick on tick feeding.

Having pulled an Ixodes angustus, the type of tick that carries Lyme in British Columbia and Alberta Canada as well as Alaska, from a red squirrel for study, the researchers were a bit surprised by what they found. When scanning the tick with an electron microscope they found a male tick still attached to the body. You would assume it was for mating, but not this tick. He was “positioned in a characteristic feeding pose” with his mouth near the engorged female’s head. There was no doubt it had been feeding. There was evidence, a small hole in another part of the female’s body, of another tick feeding on her as well.


Ticks move through their life by taking a single blood meal from a host for each stage of the lifecycle. They usually feed on rodents or smaller animals in early stages and move on to larger animals and even humans as they get larger.

What the scientists in this study found was something called hyperparasitism. Instead of finding their usual host, the tick cuts out the “middleman” so to speak and feeds on the blood that one of its own kind has already harvested. Past studies showed that soft-bodied ticks used this method, but it was surprising when seen in this hard-bodied variety. The group of researchers concluded that this practice was more common in hard-bodied ticks than once thought.


Ticks are gross… cannibalistic ticks are scary and gross! Wouldn’t you rather just not have to think about them? At Mosquito Squad of Chelmsford & Cambridge, we can help with that. There are steps you can take to make your own yard safer from the diseases that ticks cause. We call them the 6Cs of tick proofing your property and you can do this on your own.

But we suggest you take the next step as well. Professional treatment. Our tick barrier system will eliminate 85-90% of existing ticks in your yard and continue working for weeks ahead. Our tick tube systems are effective in continued protection year round. All this with a 100% satisfaction guarantee! More questions? We’d love to answer them. Mosquito Squad’s time-tested and proven tick control is just a phone call away. (978) 381-4028