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  • Black-Legged Tick - (Ixodes scapularis)

    Black-Legged Tick - (Ixodes scapularis)

    The Black-Legged Tick is an arachnid with a bite that can do more damage than most spiders.

    Staff Writer (11/20/2013): The Black-Legged Tick is a carrier of Lyme disease. This arachnid picks up the Lyme disease-causing bacteria from feeding on mice and deer.

    Commonly found in the Eastern United States, the Black-Legged Tick adult sits on low plant vegetation (shrubs, ferns, flowers) until a potential host animal walks by. With its front legs outstretched, it clings onto whatever it can: fur, tail, clothing, etc. It then crawls to to warmer parts of the body because blood is closer to the surface in those areas. It will bite the victim without pain as its saliva has an anesthetic chemical in it that numbs the bite site. It will drawn a blood meal from the host until it is engorged with blood and the abdomen will expand in size, turning redder in color. Ticks may feed on a host for days. Their barbed feeding tube helps keep them latched on more securely.

    It is during feeding that the Lyme Disease causing bacteria can pass from the tick into the host (deer, human, mouse, etc.). The longer the tick has to feed, the greater the opportunity for the bacteria to move and infect. Because of this, The Center for Disease Control in the U.S. suggests people who finds ticks on themselves are encouraged to remove them as soon as possible. Because the infecting vector may be in the feeding tube, even if the tick is crushed or decapitated, it may still transmit the bacteria. Complete removal of the tick within 24 hours of the initial bite can reduce possible infection according to the CDC. If you have been bitten by a Black-Legged Tick, seek medical attention and get tested for Lyme Disease. Early treatment for Lyme Disease aids in better managing its symptoms.

    All Ticks are arachnids, not insects. They have eight legs so counting legs of a creature crawling on you can aid in identifying them quickly. Males appear as a dark brown or even black coloring while females feature orange coloring. Tick nymphs are most active during the spring and summer months, when a majority of potential hosts are also most active.

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    Details of the:
    Black-Legged Tick

    Category: Mite or Tick
    Common name: Black-Legged Tick
    Scientific Name: Ixodes scapularis
    Other Names: Deer Tick

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Arachnida
         Order: Acari
          Family: Ixodidae
           Genus: Ixodes
            Species: scapularis

    Size (Adult, Length): 3mm to 4mm (0.12in to 0.16in)

    Identifying Colors: brown; red; black

    Additional Descriptors: biting, harmful, 8 legs

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Minnesota; Iowa; Missouri; Oklahoma; Arkansas; Texas; Kansas; Wisconsin; Illinois; Indiana; Tennessee; Mississippi; Louisiana; Alabama; Kentucky; Indiana; Michigan; Ohio; West Virginia; North Carolina; South Carolina; Georgia; Florida; Virginia; Maryland; Delaware; Pennsylvania; New Jersey; New York; Connecticut; Massachusetts; Rhode Island; New Hampshire; Vermont; Maine

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

    BUGFINDER: What Kind of Bug is This...
    BUGFINDER allows for a quick search of the Insect Identification database by selecting primary color, secondary color, number of legs and the territory / state in question. If only one color is present on your insect, select it again as its SECONDARY color. Remember that the more details you can offer, the better your chances of finding a match. As a rule of thumb, six legs are typical for most insects whereas spiders generally have eight legs.
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