From sea to shining sea, it’s not hard to encounter a tick in the United States. Generalized for being notorious transmitters of Lyme Disease, there are dozens of types of ticks, and the dangers they pose can vary. Here are five types common to the United States.
Ixodes scapularis is commonly referred to as the “deer tick” or the “bear tick” and can be found throughout the eastern United States. Both sexes and all life stages will feed on humans, but it’s most common to find females and nymphs doing so. This population of ticks can transmit Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis. Adult females have a higher chance of carrying a disease because they’ve had more opportunities to feed, while nymphs are more likely to spread disease because their small size makes them unnoticeable, which affords them longer opportunities to feed. The blacklegged tick can’t fly or jump, but they will climb up blades of grass or other vegetation, hoping to latch on to a host passing by. Blacklegged ticks are most active between May through August. However, it is possible to find adults hunting for a host in the winter, when temperatures are above freezing.
Lone Star Tick
Amblyomma americanum enjoys wooded areas and attaching themselves to wild animals or birds. This tick earned its name from the white dot or “lone star” found on the back of females, but it is also referred to as the northeastern water tick or the turkey tick. This pest can be found throughout the eastern United States but is most common in the South. The lone star tick can transmit Ehrlichiosis, and the CDC reports allergic reactions associated with the consumption of red meat have been documented amongst people who have been bitten by this species of tick.A risk of being bit by a lone star tick exists between early spring and late fall.
Gulf Coast Tick
Amblyomma maculatum can be found along the Atlantic Golf Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Larvae and nymphs predominantly feed on birds and small rodents, while the adults feed on deer and other wildlife. However, this breed won’t hesitate to feed off of a human. The gulf coast tick is known for transmitting R. parkeri to humans, a spotted fever closely related to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
American Dog Tick
Dermacentor variabilis is mostly distributed east of the Rocky Mountains but can also be found in some areas on the Pacific Coast. This species of tick is one of the most well-known in the United States, as it is responsible for transmitting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Its name comes from the fact that adult ticks prefer to feed on dogs. However, adult females are very likely to bite humans. The highest risk for being bit occurs between the spring and summer.
Brown Dog Tick
Rhipicephalus sanguineus can be found across the world but is most common in warm climates. Dogs are common hosts for these ticks, and their cravings can make them common in kennels. These ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and canine ehrlichiosis. It’s important to routinely check your dog (and all pets) for ticks, keep pet areas clean, and consider treating your dog with flea and tick repellents.