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American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Dog Tick.


 Updated: 1/30/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org



  American Dog Tick  
Picture of American-Dog-Tick
Picture of American-Dog-Tick


The American Dog Tick can be found across the continent on dogs, coyotes, bears and any other warm-bodied host that happens to walk by.





Some ticks are notorious for carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease in humans. The American Dog Tick is NOT one of them. It is not entirely harmless though. American Dog Ticks may carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia, two serious diseases that can adversely affect humans. Both list a high fever as a symptom, but individuals may vary in a variety of other symptoms connected to these illnesses. Bite wounds associated with Tularemia may form a skin ulcer (gaping wound). Both diseases can be successfully treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early, so it is important to contact a physician immediately if bitten.

Ticks are 8-legged arachnids though they are not spiders. They do not have wings and cannot fly, but they are adept at latching on to clothes, fur and hair that wisps past them within their reach. The American Dog Tick is also known as a Wood Tick. It happens to be spotted most often on dogs coming in from frolicking in the woods, so it has become most familiar as a parasite of that particular animal. The American Dog Tick, however, will feed on just about any animal it can hook its legs onto. After curling their legs around fabric or fur, the tick moves toward the skin. It then crawls to warmer parts of the body like armpits and inner thighs. There, it bites into the flesh while using a numbing agent in its saliva that renders the puncture imperceptible. It is then able to suck the blood from its host unhindered until it is fully engorged and more than double its original size.

Like all ticks, the American Dog Tick has life stages where its physical appearance slightly changes. The coloration changes from nymph stage to adulthood and is different between genders. One might mistake them all for different species. They also look different when they are empty versus engorged. Their wrinkly bodies can inflate like a balloon after a blood meal.
Basic Information
Common Name: American Dog Tick
Other Name(s): Wood Tick
Scientific Name: Dermacentor variabilis
Category: Mite or Tick


General Identification
Size (Adult; Length): 2mm to 5mm (0.08in to 0.20in)
Colorwheel Graphic
Identifying Colors: ivory, brown, red, black
Additional Descriptors: tick, blood, round, slow, harmful, biting




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Ixodida
Family: Ixodidae
Genus: Dermacentor
Species: variabilis




Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed below as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections below indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
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
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico


Territorial Area Map (Visual Reference Guide)
The map below showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the American Dog Tick may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
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State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Images Gallery for the American Dog Tick
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