Tick Species

Identifying Ticks

Several species of ticks in New York are a human health issue. Blacklegged ticks, American dog ticks, lone star ticks, gulf coast ticks and Asian longhorned ticks.  

Ticks are arachnids, meaning they are closely related to mites and spiders. They have four life stages: egg, larvae, nymph and adult.

Unfed ticks are flattened, teardrop shaped. Larval ticks have six legs, while nymph and adult ticks have eight legs.

Asian longhorned tick adult female, nymph, and larva shown with a dime for reference
an engorged tick
adult female, adult male, nymph and larva of Gulf Coast tick

Gulf Coast Tick

Tick appearances have many variations

Depending on the species, life stage, and gender, ticks have different shapes and color patterns. To complicate things even more, tick abdomens expand after feeding, making identification difficult for most people.

Tick Larvae

Tick larvae are very small. Blacklegged and lone star tick larvae are about the size of a grain. Tick larvae have only six legs

Back: Lone star tick larvae

Tick nymphs

Tick nymphs have 8 legs. They are about the size of a poppy seed, small enough to be easily overlooked. This makes nymphs the most dangerous life tick stage for humans enjoying the outdoors.

Back: blacklegged tick nymph

Engorged ticks

 When fully fed, an adult female blacklegged and/or lone star tick can be as large as a raisin.

Back:  lone star tick

Unfed adult blacklegged tick

Unfed ticks are flattened, teardrop-shaped. Adult ticks have 8 legs.

Back: questing adult female blacklegged tick

Unfed adult lone star tick

Unfed ticks are flattened, teardrop-shaped. Adult ticks have 8 legs.

Back: unfed adult female lone star tick

Tick Habitat

Why do I have ticks in my yard? 

Ticks are blood-feeding ectoparasites that quest for hosts in preferred environments. You don’t have to be an outdoor adventurer to encounter a tick.

People can encounter ticks almost anywhere, making it difficult to know exactly where the tick came from. Any time you step off the pavement, you could possibly encounter a . Even if you don’t, lone star ticks could be present in parking lots and boardwalks. Groundcovers such as pachysandra might contain blacklegged ticks. Your pet can even bring any of these ticks into your home.

chart showing that blacklegged tick prefers the woods, can be found at the edge of the woods, and is occasionally found in turf

Blacklegged tick

American dog ticks prefer turf and woods edge.

American Dog Tick

graphic showing that lone star ticks prefer the woods and woods edge but can be found on turf.

Lone Star Tick

The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, requires high humidity or moisture to survive. Therefore, this tick is most often found in the forest and at the forest edge where tree cover, dense vegetation, and leaf litter provide a moist environment.

The American dog tick can survive in warm, dry locations such as roadsides, trails and lawns.

The lone star tick is able to survive in a wide range of habitats from the shade of the forest to the sun of a lawn.