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Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Lone Star Tick

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A single yellow dot on the back of the female Lone Star Tick found in the Southeastern U.S. urges real caution.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Lone Star Ticks are not known to carry the vector for Lyme Disease, but they do harbor other noteworthy bacteria. Humans and dogs bitten by this tick can develop Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and erhlichiosis. These illnesses are treatable and complete recovery is possible if detected early. This tick can also transmit the alpha-gal sugar, which is found in non-primate animals, but not humans. Once in a person's bloodstream, a human's body reacts to its presence and a food allergy to red meat develops. This allergy is called alpha-gal syndrome. People who develop it after a tick bite experience an anaphylactic reaction after consuming beef, pork, and lamb. The intensity of the allergic reaction depends on the person. It could mean intense itching, nausea, and hives, or it could cause unconsciousness and worse. People recently diagnosed with alpha-gal syndrome usually have to abstain from eating dairy as well as red meat until their particular reaction level to alpha-gal is determined. If a Lone Star Tick is found biting a person or dog, removing it using a pair of tweezers along with its head and mouthparts intact is strongly recommended. Contact your physician if you have been bitten by a Lone Star Tick.

If a dog has many ticks on it, bring it to a veterinarian for tick removal, overall examination, and possible treatment for tick-borne illnesses. Rapid response for canine victims can help reduce discomfort and prevent more serious illnesses from developing.

The female Lone Star Tick is red with a pale yellow or white dot in the center of its body. Lone Star Tick males do not have this spot on them. Both sexes are flat and small when they have not had a bloodmeal. Once engorged with blood, their bodies inflate like balloons and they may look like a completely different insect to some people. Ticks are hardy and can be found in natural areas of every type. They cling to the tip of grass blades, leaves or other low plants, and simply wait for a host to pass by. Their eight legs are like hooks, and they are immediately able stick to hair, fabric, and even skin. They walk quickly to the warmer parts of a host (closer to a blood source) before embedding their heads into the skin and feeding. Check yourself, others, and your pets for roaming ticks after spending time outdoors to help prevent bites. Many times, a quick 'tick check' can find them still walking, before they actually bite, and they can be more easily removed.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Harmful insect icon
Patterned insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Chelicerata
      Order: Ixodida
        Family: Ixodidae
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          Genus: Amblyomma
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            Species: americanum

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Amblyomma americanum
Category: Mite or Tick
Size (Adult; Length): 0mm to 5mm (0" to 0.19")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; yellow
Descriptors: legs; spot; dot; cling; hook; bite; harmful; engorged; flat

Lone-Star-Tick Video(s)

A male Lone Star Tick running for cover.

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 0mm (0.0in) and 5mm (0.2in)
Lo: 0mm
Md: 2.5mm
Hi: 5mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Lone Star Tick may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects 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. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Lone Star Tick. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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