Deer Tick – Unengorged and Crawling

2014 April 12

For our 500th posting[1], here is an old “friend”: a Deer Tick that Sandy found on our dog[2] on June 6, 2013. Unlike the previous deer ticks I photographed, this one hadn’t attached and drawn blood yet, so we get to see what they look like before they become grotesquely bloated.

Here’s the underside, so you can get a good look at the color of the legs, and the little adhesive pads that it has for feet.

Ticks don’t move particularly fast, even when unengorged, and so I was able to get this series of “Action Shots” as it progressed laboriously across the table.

And because I can, here is a second tick from a bit later in the summer, that did manage to attach to the dog and become grotesquely engorged (although not that large compared to some ticks we’ve seen).

I could have brushed off the dog hair to make it more beautiful, except for the little detail that nothing can make an engorged tick beautiful.

Although, looking at it, now I’m not so sure that the engorged one is either a deer tick or a wood tick. The body looks too dark, and the legs too pale, to be either. Going back through my previous pictures from years past, here’s a partly engorged wood tick, which is bigger, and has redder legs and a paler body:

And here’s an engorged deer tick, which has black legs and a paler body:

So I don’t know. It could be a tick nymph. It seems that ticks bite multiple times as they grow up (which, incidentally, is why they are often disease vectors. They bite something like, say, a mouse when they are hatchlings; pick up a disease; molt, and bite another mouse, giving them the disease; and then they grow up to bite a large animal and pass the disease on to them). The nymphs still swell up with blood, but they tend to be smaller, darker, and with paler legs than the adults.

Then again, it could be yet a third species of tick moving into the area, which would be just peachy.

The deer ticks have definitely become established, at any rate. Just a few years ago, we only found one deer tick out of probably over a hundred wood ticks. These days, the deer ticks are making up more like one out of five. This is mostly due to more deer ticks, but is also partly a result of a decrease in the wood tick population. Since wood ticks are larger, I expect that they are more likely to get eaten by birds, and once they got really numerous the birds started specifically hunting for them.

[1] It takes a while to get to 500 posts when posting once or twice a week (it took me 7 years), compared to those people who post every day and hit 500 posts after just a year and a half. At my current rate, I should hit 1000 posts in just a hair under five more years.

[2] This isn’t the same dog as provided most of our other ticks. Our previous dog (a beagle) died of extreme old age at the end of 2012. Then in May of 2013, we adopted a 9-year-old Jack Russell Terrier. She had previously been a “suburban dog” without a lot of experience with the great outdoors, so the woods have been quite a revelation to her. She loves the space and the smells, but obviously not the ticks so much.

2 Responses
  1. April 12, 2014

    Some insects seem to have purposeful lives. Then there are ticks. They gorge and then lay around for a long time, digesting. That’s just pathetic. I suppose, from the tick’s point of view, if there was any justice in the world, they’d have a little Barcalounger, remote and TV nearby so they could enjoy their digestive torpor.

  2. Carole permalink
    April 12, 2014

    Thank you for your posts and congratulations on reaching 500.

    Watch those ticks. Several friends here in Florida have lyme disease, not to be taken lightly. You would be wise to do an evening body check.

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