Lone Star Tick

A widespread myth concerning the Lone Star (and other ticks), is that one who possesses a ‘white spot’ on its back is a carrier of Lime Disease. This is not true.

Widely found in the southeastern and eastern US, this aggressive tick is expanding its range westward and northward. Six legged larvae actively seek out hosts by climbing plants or objects and waiting for a potential host to pass by. Larvae are active July through late September.  After molting into nymphs, which are active May through early August, the Lone Star tick actively seeks out larger mammals, including humans, dogs and cats, as well as birds and smaller mammals such as squirrels. After feeding, nymphs drop off and molt again, emerging as adults. Adults are active April through late August and search out humans, dogs, deer and other large mammals by waiting on tall grass or the tips of low hanging branches and twigs. The female tick is easily recognizable by the single white dot in the center of a brown body. Males have spots or streaks of white around the edges of the body.

This tick is often misidentified as blacklegged ticks. The Lone Star tick tends to be larger than the blacklegged tick.  The Lone Star tick does not transmit Lyme disease, but is capable of spreading the pathogens that cause other tick-borne diseases, including Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Of the many different tick species found throughout the world, only a select few bite and transmit disease to humans. These maps provide general insight into the expected distribution these human-biting ticks in the contiguous United States. Populations of ticks may be found outside noted areas. Naturally occurring populations of the ticks described below do not occur in Alaska; however, the brown dog tick is endemic in Hawaii.

Note that adult ticks are the easiest to identify and male and female ticks of the same species may look different. Nymphal and larval ticks are very small and may be difficult to identify.