(Deer) Ticks

The blacklegged tick is named for its dark legs, which are a contrast to its pale body. Blacklegged ticks are sometimes called deer ticks.


These ticks like to feed on the blood of white-tailed deer, which is why they are sometimes called deer ticks.


Blacklegged ticks prefer to hide in grass and shrubs.


Blacklegged (deer) ticks can spread Lyme Disease.

Lone Star Ticks

Distribution: Found mainly in the southeastern US west into Texas; pockets found in New Jersey, Fire Island, NY, and Prudence Island, RI.

Description: Adults 1/3 inch long unengorged, ½ inch long engorged, colored from brown to tan, females have silvery white spot (“lone star”) on backs and males have scattered spots or streaks around perimeter of body.

Habitat: In wooded areas with brush, especially hickory-oak forests, along creeks and rivers.

Animal Hosts: Small birds and rodents (larvae and nymphs), cattle, deer, humans.

Diseases Carried: Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)

Brown Dog Ticks

Brown dog ticks are reddish-brown with a dark brown scutum. Unfed females are about 3/16 inch (4.76mm) long. All stages feed almost exclusively on dogs and can become established in kennels. Although brown dog ticks can be found crawling on humans they rarely attach and feed on humans. This tick is considered a nuisance species and is not known to transmit disease-causing organisms to humans in the United States.

American Dog Ticks

American dog tick females are about 1/4 inch (6.35mm) long and are chestnut brown with a silvery-gray or creamy-white scutum. Male ticks are slightly smaller, and are chestnut brown with similar light-colored vertical markings on the dorsal surface. Larvae feed on small mammals, and nymphs feed on small-to medium-sized mammals. Adults, sometimes called wood ticks, occasionally attack humans but are more common on dogs and other medium-sized animals.

Dermacentor variabilis is a known vector of Rickettsia rickettsii, a bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans. Most Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases are reported from the south Atlantic and south central states, but cases do occur each year in New York state, especially on Long Island. The average incubation period after an infected tick bite is seven days and results in fever, severe headache, and joint and body aches. Within a few days a spotted rash appears on the wrists and ankles and spreads to the palms, soles, and eventually to the rest of the body. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is treatable with antibiotics but can be fatal if not treated promptly. Rickettsia rickettsii can be transmitted to eggs. Consequently unfed larvae are capable of transmission, in addition to nymphs and adults.

The American dog tick plays a secondary role in the disease cycle of human monocytic ehrlichiosis. Please refer to the lone star tick section for details.

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