American dog tick

Dermacentor variabilis

''Dermacentor variabilis'', also known as the American dog tick or wood tick, is a species of tick that is known to carry bacteria responsible for several diseases in humans, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia . It is one of the most well-known hard ticks.
American Dog Tick (Male) - Dermacentor variabilis Adult male American Dog tick - 8 legs, reddish brown in color with a patterned scutum. I found 2 males clinging to grass in a meadow. No females in sight, so I assume they are *patiently* waiting...

Adult dog ticks are active April to August, and can be found questing in tall grass or low lying brush. They typically feed on medium-sized hosts, such as raccoons, skunks, coyotes, domestic dogs, cats, and humans as well. The male ticks blood feed briefly, but do not become engorged. Dog ticks can survive for up to 2 years (at any stage in their life cycle) if no host is found. American dog tick,Dermacentor,Dermacentor variabilis,Geotagged,Spring,United States,dog tick,male tick,tick


The life cycle of ticks can vary depending on the species. The growth stages of a tick start off as an egg, larva , nymph, and finally the adult. The adult female tick lays uninfected eggs. The eggs hatch uninfected larva. These larva commonly feed on mammals such as squirrels, humans, deer, mice, raccoons, and even skunks. They also feed on birds. The nymph continues to feed off of the mammals stated above before maturing into an infected adult. Once the tick reaches the adult stage, it will commonly feed on larger animals such as the opossum, cat, dog, deer, and humans.
American Dog Tick (Female) - Dermacentor variabilis Female American Dog Ticks are reddish-brown and have a white or yellowish pattern on their scutum.

Habitat: Spotted on the side of a hiking trail

Notes: Dog ticks are frequently found in areas with little or no tree cover, such as in fields and along trails. They feed on a variety of hosts, including mice, raccoons, cats, dogs, deer, and humans. The nymphs and adults can transmit diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia, but they are not competent vectors of Lyme Disease. They can survive for up to 2 years at any given stage if no host is found. American dog tick,Dermacentor variabilis,Geotagged,Spring,United States,dog tick,tick


The American dog tick is a rather colorful tick and is commonly found in highly wooded, shrubby, and long grass areas. Tick numbers can be reduced in your own back yard by cutting the grass, which creates a low humidity environment which is undesired by ticks. Pesticides can also be used and are most effective when they are applied to vegetation that has been cut to a short level.
American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) Hanging out on dead grasses at the edge of a dense mixed forest. American dog tick,Dermacentor variabilis,Geotagged,Spring,United States


Though ''D. variabilis'' may be exposed to ''Borrelia burgdorferi'', the causative agent of Lyme disease, these ticks are not competent vectors for the transmission of this disease. The primary vectors for ''Borrelia burgdorferi'' are the deer tick ''Ixodes scapularis'' in Eastern parts of the United States, ''Ixodes pacificus'' in California and Oregon, and ''Ixodes ricinus'' in Europe. ''Dermacentor variabilis'' may also carry ''Anaplasma phagocytophilum'', the causative agent of HGE , and ''Ehrlichia chaffeensis'', the causative agent of HME .

''Dermacentor'' ticks may also induce tick paralysis by elaboration of a neurotoxin that induces rapidly progressive flaccid quadriparesis similar to Guillain–Barré syndrome. The neurotoxin prevents presynaptic release of acetylcholine from neuromuscular junctions.


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SpeciesD. variabilis