Blacklegged Tick

Ixodes scapularis

"Ixodes scapularis" is a hard-bodied tick of the eastern and northern Midwestern United States. It is a vector for several diseases of animals, including humans and is known as the deer tick owing to its habit of parasitizing the white-tailed deer. It is also known to parasitize mice, lizards, migratory birds, etc. especially while the tick is in the larva or nymph stage.
Spiracle of Ixodes scapularis (Deer Tick) 100x photograph of Deer tick spiracle Geotagged,Ixodes scapularis,Spiracle of Ixodes scapularis (Deer Tick),United States


"I. scapularis" has a two-year life cycle, during which time it passes through three stages: larva, nymph, and adult. The tick must take a blood meal at each stage before maturing to the next. Deer tick females latch onto a host and drink its blood for four to five days. Deer are the preferred host of the deer tick, but it is also known to feed on small rodents. After she is engorged, the tick drops off and overwinters in the leaf litter of the forest floor. The following spring, the female lays several hundred to a few thousand eggs in clusters. Transtadial passage of "Borrelia burgdorferi" is common. Vertical passage of "Borrelia" is uncommon.

Ticks are very hardy creatures and "I. scapularis" is no exception. Expect them to be active even after a moderate to severe frost, as daytime temperatures can warm them enough to keep them actively searching for a host. In the spring, they can be one of the first invertebrates to become active. Deer ticks can be quite numerous and seemingly gregarious in areas where they are found.
Blacklegged Tick (Female) If you've ever wondered what the ventral side of a tick looks like, here you go!  On the underside, the upper, central opening between the fourth pair of legs is called the genital aperture. The lower central opening is the anus. The two whitish circular openings underneath the fourth legs are the spiracular plates. The genital aperture and anus are fairly self-explanatory due to their names. The spiracular plates contain spiracles through which the ticks breathe. Interestingly, larval ticks do not have spiracular plates, but rather they breathe through their skin. Nymphal and adult ticks do have spiracular plates, and they are able to control the opening/closing of their spiracles using muscles and hemolymph (blood) pressure. Ticks have a very delicate balance to maintain between their need to open their spiracles to breathe, but not have them open long enough to desiccate. Luckily for them, they can close their spiracles for long periods of time and survive without any oxygen exchange. This tick is an adult, female blacklegged tick. They have black heads and dorsal shields, dark red abdomens, and 8 legs. Blacklegged Tick,Blacklegged Tick (Female),Fall,Geotagged,Ixodes scapularis,United States,deer tick,female Blacklegged Tick,female deer tick,female tick,hard tick,ixodes,tick


Guineafowl, chickens, and fire ants are known predators of ticks. None has been proven to be effective in populations on a large scale, but anecdotal evidence supports localized control of tick populations.


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SpeciesI. scapularis