Types of Ticks
The three most frequently encountered ticks in Missouri are the lone star tick, the American dog tick and the deer tick.
Deer Tick or Blacklegged Tick (Ixodes scapularis)
Although only the size of a sesame seed, deer ticks are best known for transmitting Lyme Disease. They live two-three years and must have three blood meals to survive each phase of life. Deer ticks are very slow feeders and will feed for three-five days. They must attach to their host for at least 24 hours to transmit the Lyme Disease bacterium. Deer and rodents are actually the preferred hosts of deer ticks. Rodents are typically the source of the Lyme Disease bacteria that ticks pass along to other hosts. Deer ticks are found in the woods and areas with overgrown vegetation.
Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)
The lone star tick easily distinguished from any other tick by the pronounced white dot or star in the center of its back, is most active from April through the end of July. The distribution, range and abundance of the lone star tick have increased over the past 20-30 years. Lone star ticks are very aggressive feeders, known to travel far distances in search of a host and often are found on dogs and cats, which is how they find their way indoors. The lone start tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) can occur after the bite of the lone star tick. The symptoms (rash, headache, fatigue) are similar to Lyme Disease but can be cured with an oral antibiotic. STARI is not known to cause neurological complications like Lyme Disease.
American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
The american dog tick is a 3-host tick, targeting smaller mammals as a larva and nymph and larger mammals as an adult. Although it is normally found on dogs, this tick will readily attack larger animals, such as cattle, horses, and even humans. American dog ticks are typically brown to reddish-brown in color with gray/silver markings on their back. They overwinter in the soil and are most active from mid-April to early September. Like the lone star tick, these ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to both humans and dogs.