Tick Biology 101

Ticks have four stages in their life cycle that are, egg, 6 legged larvae, 8 legged nymph, and 8 legged breading adult.

A blood meal is required to pass through each of the stages. Ticks feed slowly and can remain on a host for several days until fully engorged with blood. After each blood meat the attached tick will typically drop off the host to molt into the next stage of development, Depending on the tick, the life cycles can take as long as 3 years to complete¹. When an adult female tick reaches maturity, and after its’ finale blood meal it will produce a single large batch of eggs and dies. Depending on the species of tick, the egg mass deposited can range roughly from 1,000—18,000 eggs.

The smaller 6 legged larval stage of the tick typically hosts on smaller animals such as mice, squirrels, and other such animals. It is in the transport of these smaller woodland animals that ticks find there way close to your house. If small animals can find shelter in or around your home, they can also spread ticks there too. The range of the tick includes southern portions of Canada and coastal Maine, through the mid-Atlantic states.

American Dog Tick, is the most common and widely distributed tick in the northeast. This tick is not known to transmit Lyme Disease, however, they are known to be a primary vector of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and a vector of tularemia.
They are reddish brown in color with silvery gray or whitish markings on the upper body and about a 1/4 inch in length.

Blacklegged tick is the correct common name for the tick popularly known as the “deer” tick (the terms are not used together; it is not called the blacklegged deer tick).

Blacklegged tick transmits the causal agents of three diseases; Lyme disease, human babesiosis, and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA).
The body of the female blacklegged tick is about 1/10 of an inch long, reddish brown with a dark brown to the black plate-shaped marking behind the head, however, the males are completely dark brown and slightly smaller.

Brown Dog Tick is found throughout the United States. Although it rarely causes disease in humans it does cause illness in its preferred host, our dogs. The brown dog tick is most common in warmer climates. Brown dog ticks commonly infest dogs and their living area.
This tick can be responsible for spreading diseases in canines such as Canine Ehrlichiosis, and Canine Babesia.

By no means are these the only ticks in this region, but they may perhaps be the most significant. Other ticks of the north-east can include the Lone Star tick, the Woodchuck tick, Rabbit tick, and the Winter tick. To learn more about ticks and their associated Pathogens, the microorganism i.e. virus, bacteria, rickettsia, protozoa, fungus, that may cause disease, visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website to learn more.