Collectively the Ixodidae and Argasidae may be distinguished from other Acari by the presence of a median probe, armed with recurved teeth, which project forwards beneath the mouth and between the palpi, and of a conspicuous spiracular area above and usually behind the base of the fourth leg on each side.
The mouth parts consist of two small retractile mandibles, of a pair of short palpi and of the toothed probe above mentioned.
In the Argasidae the anterior portion of the dorsal surface of the body is extended forwards above the capitulum, so that this structure is concealed from above; the integument is fairly uniformly granular or coriaceous above and below; the palpi are simple and unmodified; there is no sucker beneath the claws in the adult, and there is only a slight structural difference between the sexes.
In the Ixodidae the capitulum is not overlapped by a forward extension of the dorsal area, which is smooth and firmly chitinized either in front or all over; the palpi are usually modified, that is to say, their second and third segments are usually excavated internally to form a sheath for the hypostome; there is a distinct sucker beneath the claws and the difference between the sexes is well marked, the males having the dorsal integument thickly and continuously chitinized, whereas in the females only its anterior portion bears a chitinous plate, the rest of the integument being soft to admit of its distension by the blood which is imbibed in quantity by members of this sex.
A, Rostrum or hypostome; b, b, Palpi; c, Genital aperture; d, Anal orifice; e, e, Ventral surface of capitulum; g, Sternum; 1 -7, segments of leg.