Size: 1/4 in.
Color: Solid brown; females possess a white star-like dot in the middle of their backs
Body Structure: Flat body with eight legs
Characteristics: Like other ticks, the lone star tick is parasitic and requires blood of a host animal to reproduce. Female adults will gorge themselves with a host’s blood before dropping to the ground and depositing clusters of thousands of eggs. Males, who may mate with several females, die after mating. Likewise, females die after they have laid their eggs. When eggs hatch they release larva, which often are referred to as “seed ticks.” Seed ticks, which feature just 6 legs at this point, immediately seek a host upon which to feed. After feeding on the host, the seed tick will fall to the ground, molt and emerge as a nymph with 8 legs. The nymph repeats this process, and finally emerges as an adult. The entire life cycle may take up to 3 years to complete.
Habitat/Behavior: Lone star ticks live in wooded environments and can be found anywhere animals feed or rest. In general, young lone star ticks feed on small mammals, birds and rodents, whereas nymphs and adults will feed on cattle, horses or deer. Larva, nymphs and adults all will feed on human blood. When feeding, the lone star tick attaches its barbed mouthparts to the host and injects an anticoagulant to allow blood to flow. Like other ticks, they are vector pests and can transmit pathogens to a host, including bacteria that cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Often, the bite of a lone star tick is will go undetected
Commonly Active: Spring into early Autumn.
Prevention/Treatment: If spending time in wooded areas around your home, spray your clothing and shoes with a DEET-containing pest repellent. If you find a lone star tick on your body, remove it using a tweezers, plucking it from your body as close to the tick’s mouthparts as possible. Do not crush or squeeze the tick’s body, otherwise whatever pathogens it is harboring may be injected into the wound. If you experience nausea, vomiting, disorientation, profuse sweating, rash or onset of paralysis, seek medical attention immediately. If you are concerned about lone star ticks around your home, please consult a pest control professional.