Ticks are external parasites, living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks are not insects, although they are often mistaken for them. Ticks are actually classified as arachnids, or relatives of spiders, scorpions and mites. Tick populations tend to be higher in elevation, in wooded and grassy areas where the creatures they feed on live and roam, including deer, rabbits, birds, lizards, squirrels, mice, and other rodents. However, they can also be found in urban areas as well as on beaches in coastal areas.
BLACKLEGGED TICK (Ixodes scapularis)
Where found: Widely distributed across the eastern United States. The greatest risk of being bitten exists in the spring, summer, and fall. However, adults may be out searching for a host any time winter temperatures are above freezing. Stages most likely to bite humans are nymphs and adult females.
LONE STAR TICK (Amblyommo americanum)
Where found: Widely distributed in the southeastern & eastern United States. A very aggressive tick that bites humans. The adult female is distinguished by a white dot or “lone star” on her back. Lone star tick saliva can be irritating; redness and discomfort at a bite site does not necessarily indicate an infection. The nymph and adult females most frequently bite humans and transmit disease.
DOG TICK (Dermacentor variabilis)
Where found: Widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains. Also occurs in limited areas on the Pacific Coast. The highest risk of being bitten occurs during spring and summer. Dog ticks are sometimes called wood ticks. Adult females are most likely to bite humans.