Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Tick - (Dermacentor sp.)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/24/2014

Ticks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all are parasites. Humans, pets and wild animals are all suitable hosts for this blood-feeder.

Picture of Tick

Ticks are parasites that feed off the blood of a host. As they feed, they release anticoagulants, chemicals that prevent blood from clotting (stopping). Their mouths are so tiny that hosts (people, dogs, and other animals) do not feel the bite and are often unaware they have been bitten even if the tick leaves. Some, but not all tick bites can develop a red ring, like a target, around the bite site. Complete and speedy removal of a tick from a host can help avoid the spread of tick-borne diseases.

Some species of tick are capable of spreading disease to humans (Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). Although the infectious agent does not affect the tick, once it is passed through the tick's saliva into the human bloodstream, it can cause an array of symptoms including fatigue, headaches and general malaise. If you suspect you have been bitten by a tick, seeking the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible is prudent.

Ticks are not bugs, they are arachnids, which means they have 8 legs. Some ticks are round (like beans) while others are flat with festoons (folds that look like a ridge) around their abdomen. All ticks are parasitic. Their body shape color can greatly change after a blood meal.

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Category: Mite or Tick
Common name: Tick
Scientific Name: Dermacentor sp.

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
     Order: Acari
      Family: Ixodidae
       Genus: Dermacentor
        Species: sp.

Adult Size (Length): 3mm to 5mm (0.12in to 0.20in)

Identifying Colors: black; brown; orange; red; yellow; pink

Additional Descriptors: biting, harmful

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.