Hard and soft ticks differ in how they behave and find food. Soft ticks generally live in animals’ nests and burrows. Females lay their eggs in their host’s nest. Larvae, nymphs and adults crawl through the nest to find hosts. They usually feed at night, and they don’t spend much time attached to a host. While hard ticks may spend days consuming a host’s blood, soft ticks often finish a meal in about the time it takes a flea to do the same task.
Hard ticks, on the other hand, find food through a behavior known as questing.
A questing tick positions itself on a blade of grass, a leaf or other vegetation. It stretches its clawed limbs outward and waits for hosts to pass by. Ticks can’t jump or drop down onto their hosts – when a host brushes against a questing tick, the tick simply hangs on. In many tick species, larvae quest at ground level. Nymphs climb a little higher into vegetation to find slightly bigger hosts. Adults climb highest of all in their attempt to find large animals to use as hosts.