07 October 2009
Ticks are not insects but are arachnids and are thus related to spiders and mites. They have 8 legs, except when they first hatch from eggs (larva), when they have 6 legs. Take a look out our Tick Vector Info Graphic and feel free to share.

what do deer ticks look like?Ixodes scapularis commonly called blacklegged or deer ticks, are generally born uninfected with Lyme disease, i.e., they do not contain the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. Research has shown a small percent may be born infected with the bacteria.

Deer/blacklegged ticks feed once in each stage, larva, nymph, adult. Each time they feed, they have an opportunity to pick up Lyme bacteria from the animal they feed upon, and then next time they feed, they can pass it to whatever animal they feed upon. For example, in the Northeast, the larva is born and may feed upon the white footed mouse, vole or chipmunk, thus becoming infected with Lyme bacteria. Next time, the tick feeds as a nymph (poppy seed size tick), and it can infect whatever it feeds upon, person, dog, cat, other wild animal.

The adult has a higher infection rate than the nymph (except on the west coast), but the nymph usually produces more disease because it is smaller, poppy seed size, and harder to find on the body.
 
 
TTick QuestingHSlidero feed, the deer tick does "questing," waiting on tall grass or on low branches or shrubs until an animal brushes by, and it can then get onto the animal.  It crawls around awhile until it finds the place on the animal's body it wants to bite, which in humans is often hairy areas or folds and creases, although it will bite a person anywhere on the body.  (Image of "questing" tick courtsey of James Occi, MA, MS.)

The deer tick does have a two year life cycle and does survive the winter. Although most generally found active from March through November, the deer tick can now be found all year round when temperatures rise above 35 degrees or so.
 
The deer tick can carry other disease organisms besides Lyme bacteria. Babesia, bartonella, anaplasma, tularemia, and Powassan virus are some examples. One deer tick bite can infect you with one or more of these disease organisms. The deer tick can also carry a toxin which causes tick paralysis, which can only be stopped by removal of the tick.

In California and the far west, Ixodes pacificus (Western blacklegged tick) transmits Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

Other types of ticks have different life cycles and carry different diseases. Some examples important in human disease are; Amblyomma americanum (the lone star tick) which transmits a Lyme-like disease called STARI; Dermacentor variabilis (American dog tick); and Dermacentor andersoni (wood tick).

13 February 2017

Tick Habitat

Many people think ticks are only present in the woods. However, ticks can be found in many areas.

  • Where woods/fields meet lawn
  • Wooded areas
  • Tall brush/grass
  • Under leaves*
  • Very small numbers on cut/raked lawns or sports fields
  • Under ground cover (plants) in yard *
  • Around stone walls and woodpiles where mice & other small mammals live

*under plants/leaves to prevent dehydration
 

A comprehensive resource for homeowners and public health officials is the Tick Management Handbook by Kirby Stafford III, Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station, New Haven, CT

10 April 2017

These photos may help you to identify the different species of ticks and what they look like at various life stages. Some pictures include objects to help you compare their size to the actual size of the ticks.

There are a number of ticks in the United States that can carry and/or transmit many diseases which people and their pets may get from a tickbite. Often, one tickbite can transmit several different diseases. The ticks most often talked about are the Ixodes scapularis, commonly known as the deer tick or blacklegged tick, and its western cousin, Ixodes pacificus, the western blacklegged tick. Both of these ticks transmit Lyme disease.

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Ixodes affinis (two females on top) and two female I. scapularis (on bottom)
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Need Help Finding a Lyme specialist or doctor? Click below for our Doctor Referral Database.

 Doctor Referral Database

Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
PO Box 1438, Jackson, NJ 08527 

888-366-6611 | information line
732-938-7215 | fax
LDA@LymeDiseaseAssociation.org | email

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