The Lone Star Tick is a species of tick in the Ixodidae family. Other members of the family include the deer tick, dog tick, and hundreds of other species. You can easily distinguish this species from the others by the white, pseudo-star shaped spot of color in the middle of its body. Read on to learn about the Lone Star Tick.
Description of the Lone Star Tick
As discussed above, this species is easy to spot by the star-shaped spot of color on its back. The tick’s body has a brown coloration, while the “star” has a white coloration. Like all other tick species, it has eight legs.
When they have not engorged themselves with blood, this species measures about 1/8th of an inch long. After filling with blood, they reach double or triple that size.
Interesting Facts About the Lone Star Tick
These ticks have several different traits and adaptations. Learn more about them, below.
- A Tick of Many Names – People in different areas refer to this species by a few different names. Some people call them northeastern water ticks, others call them turkey ticks.
- What’s in a Name? – The term “lone star” refers to the star-like spot of color on the tick’s back. You do not find this color on the male, only the female.
- Turkey Tick – People also refer to this species as a “turkey tick.” As you might guess, this name comes from their preference for feeding on turkeys. The larval and nymph forms feed on turkeys, while the adults often feed on deer.
Habitat of the Lone Star Tick
This species prefers forested habitats. You can often find it in secondary forests with thick bushes and shrubbery for the tick to hide in. They also live on the edges between forest and meadow or grassland, as deer often forage in these areas.
Distribution of the Lone Star Tick
This species has a similar range to the deer tick. However, this species ranges more southerly and does not extend quite as far north. You can find it throughout much of the eastern United States. In addition, it lives throughout much of Mexico and into Central South America.
Diet of the Lone Star Tick
This species has carnivorous feeding habits. Like all ticks, it feeds only on blood, which makes it an obligatory sanguivore. They eat using a set of specialized mouthparts, which work like a tube to intake blood. Their preferred host varies based on the life stage, with adults feeding on larger hosts.
Lone Star Tick and Human Interaction
Humans avoid these ticks as much as possible. They view this species as a pest, as it often afflicts people, pets, and livestock. This species, like many ticks, can spread disease to humans and pets. This species in particular spreads human monocytic ehrlichiosis and granulocytic ehrlichiosis. In both cases, the tick acts as a vector that spreads a bacterium to humans or pets.
Humans have not domesticated these creatures in any way.
Does the Lone Star Tick Make a Good Pet
Why would you want to keep any species of tick as a pet? They ingest blood and spread disease.
Lone Star Tick Care
People do not keep these creatures in human care. Some people inadvertently host ticks on themselves, their pets, livestock, or other animals.
Behavior of the Lone Star Tick
The only specific behavior of this solitary species is when they search for hosts and when they reproduce. While searching for a host, or questing, they climb to the end of a leaf or blade of grass and grab hold of anything that brushes by. When it comes time to breed, the ticks use pheromones to find mates.
Reproduction of the Lone Star Tick
Pairs of ticks mate on a host. The male will continue to breed with several females before dying. After mating, the female finds a meal and engorges herself. Afterwards, she drops to the ground and produces as many as 20,000 eggs. She dies shortly afterwards.