Blacklegged (Deer) Ticks

Ixodes scapularis
blacklegged female on skin no text.jpg

A notorious biting arachnid, the blacklegged tick is named for its dark legs, which are in contrast to its pale body. Blacklegged ticks are sometimes called deer ticks, as they frequently feed on deer. However, deer ticks have also been known to bite humans.

Pest Stats

Color

Orange-brown with dark legs

Legs

8

Shape

Flat; broad oval

Size

1/8 "

Antennae

No

Region

Found primarily in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, southeastern and north central regions of the U.S.

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Habits

During the winter, adult ticks feed primarily on the blood of white-tailed deer, which is why they are sometimes called deer ticks. In the spring, a female tick will drop off its host and will deposit about 3,000 eggs. Nymphs, or baby ticks, feed on mice, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, dogs, humans and birds.

Habitat

Blacklegged ticks prefer to hide in grass and shrubs while waiting for a passing host.

Threats

Blacklegged deer ticks are a vector of anaplasmosis, babeosis and Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a primary concern in the United States. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic bull’s eye-shaped skin rash. Lyme disease can also affect joints, the heart and the nervous system if left untreated.