Adult deer tick
Hypostome: Barbed mouthpart injected into host to suck blood. Adult males will use the hypostome to fertilize adult females. Porose area of Basis Capituli: Used as an identifying characteristic to determine tick species. Adult female deer ticks will have smaller porose areas than other tick species. Only nymph and adult female deer ticks will have a shield located on the top portion of the back. Deer ticks have black, oblong shields.
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Cooperative Extension: Tick Lab
Transmission | Lyme Disease | CDC
All rights reserved. Feared for their ability to transmit Lyme disease, adult deer ticks grow only to about the size of a sesame seed. The loathsome deer tick, now known as the black-legged tick, is defined more by the disease it spreads than by its own characteristics. These blood-sucking members of the arachnid family were vaulted into the public consciousness in the mids when it was discovered that they are the primary and possibly only transmitters, or vectors, for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a debilitating, though rarely fatal, infection that is often misdiagnosed because early symptoms closely resemble the flu. If untreated by antibiotics, patients can develop a variety of health problems, including facial paralysis, heart palpitations, arthritis, severe headaches, and neurological disorders. Lyme disease is currently one of the fastest-growing vector-borne diseases in the United States.
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Ixodes scapularis is a small arachnid that survives by feeding on the blood of animals. They are more commonly referred to as the blacklegged or deer tick. Key features in identifying adult female deer ticks include, red-brown coloring of the body, a solid black dorsal shield, lack of festoons along the abdomen, and long, thin mouthparts. Larva, nymphs, and adult females will feed on humans. Adult males will rarely feed and if they do it is for a very short time.
The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi , is spread through the bite of infected ticks. The blacklegged tick or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States. The western blacklegged tick Ixodes pacificus spreads the disease on the Pacific Coast.