Types of Ticks: Identification, Species & Diseases they Carry

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“For a lot of people, ticks are ticks, but for me, I realize that different types of ticks carry different types of germs, and that makes it most important for us to know how to tell different types of ticks apart.”
- Dr. Thomas Mather, Tick Expert, University of Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center

Today, ticks can be found in all 50 states and around the world. While they can be found everywhere, different types of ticks are in different areas and may carry different types of diseases. Here we discuss the most common ticks, where they can be generally found, and the diseases they may transmit. 

3 Most Common Ticks in North America

  1. Blacklegged (Deer) Tick (Ixodes scapularis)
  2. American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
  3. Lone Star Tick (Ambylomma americanum)

    Blacklegged (Deer) Tick (Ixodes scapularis)

    As the tick that may carry Lyme disease, the Blacklegged tick population has grown tremendously throughout the United States, though they are most commonly found on the Eastern side of the country. The Blacklegged tick is also called the Deer tick because they are spread by their host, white-tailed deer. With this in mind, they thrive in wooded grasslands where there are plenty of animals to feed on.

    Diseases Blacklegged Ticks May Transmit:

    • Lyme Disease
    • Babesiosis
    • Anaplasmosis
    • Hard Tick Relapsing Fever
    • Powassan Virus
    • And More

    Learn More

    What do Blacklegged (Deer) Ticks Look Like?

    Blacklegged Deer Tick

    Where Blacklegged (Deer) Ticks Can be Found

    Regions where Blacklegged Ticks may live

    Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

    Found both on the eastern and western sides of the United States, the American Dog Tick feeds on a variety of hosts, including humans, animals of different sizes, rodents, and livestock. American Dog Ticks can mainly be found amongst tall grasses, twigs, and low-lying brush. 

    Diseases American Dog Ticks May Transmit:

    • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
    • Tularemia

    Learn More

    What do American Dog Ticks Look Like?

    American Dog Tick

    Where American Dog Ticks Can be Found

    Regions where American Dog Ticks may live

    Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Lone Star Tick (Ambylomma americanum)

    Found mainly in dense woodlands with thick undergrowth, the Lone Star Tick is one of the more aggressive ticks and can be found mainly on the eastern side of the United States. 

    Diseases/Allergens Lonestar Ticks May Transmit:

    • Ehrlichiosis
    • Alpha-Gal Syndrome, a red meat allergy

    Learn More

    Interview with alpha-gal syndrome expert, Dr. Scott Commins

    What do Lone Star Ticks Look Like?

    Lone Star Tick

    Where Lone Star Ticks Can be Found

    Region where Lone Star Ticks may live

    Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Other Ticks You May Encounter

    How to Identify a Tick 

    If you do get a tick bite, it’s essential to know what to do, including how to remove it, what to do with it once it’s removed, and how to get it identified and tested for potential diseases. 

    Learn More

    Explore tick repellent clothing & gear

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