blacklegged tick

(Ixodes scapularis)

Conservation Status
blacklegged tick
Photo by Christa Rittberg
  IUCN Red List

not listed


not listed


not listed






Nymph: 1 16 to 3 16(1-2 mm)

Adult: about (3 mm)






Similar Species

Habitat and Hosts

Hardwood forests, wooded or brushy areas.

Mice and other small mammals, birds, dogs, raccoons, deer, and humans




February through November, peaking Mid-May through mid-July






Life Cycle






Blacklegged ticks have three blood meals.

Meal 1, larva: mostly white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) but also other small mammals and ground-feeding birds

Meal 2, nymph: mostly small mammals and birds, but also dogs and humans

Meal 3, adult: mostly whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus), but also dogs, cats, horses, and humans


Distribution Map



7, 29, 30, 82.




Common and abundant

  Class Arachnida (arachnids)  
  Subclass Acari (mites)  
  Superorder Parasitiformes  


Ixodida (ticks)  




Ixodidae (hardbacked ticks)  







Common Names


bear tick

black-legged tick

blacklegged tick

deer tick

shoulder tick










Disease vector

Almost all cases of Lyme disease in humans are caused by blacklegged tick nymphs. They are about the size of a poppy seed and therefore not noticed until they are fully engorged. By that time they have already transferred Lyme disease to their host.









Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this arachnid.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Christa Rittberg

    blacklegged tick   blacklegged tick  





Ixodes scapularis

Published on Nov 30, 2014

Ixodes scapularis is commonly known as the deer tick or blacklegged tick (although some people reserve the latter term for Ixodes pacificus, which is found on the West Coast of the USA), and in some parts of the USA as the bear tick. It is a hard-bodied tick (family Ixodidae) of the eastern and northern Midwestern United States. It is a vector for several diseases of animals, including humans (Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, etc.) and is known as the deer tick owing to its habit of parasitizing the white-tailed deer. It is also known to parasitize mice, lizards, migratory birds, etc. especially while the tick is in the larva or nymph stage.

This video is targeted to blind users.

Article text available under CC-BY-SA
Creative Commons image source in video




Visitor Videos

Share your video of this insect.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  How Do Deer Ticks Become Infected With Lyme Disease?
TickEncounter Resource Center

Uploaded on Aug 17, 2010

This video will demonstrate why the Lyme disease "life cycle clock" starts ticking in August, when blood hungry larvae feed on infected rodents.

  Tick Identification

Published on Jul 2, 2015

We hope to help educate folks on how to identify the differences between a Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and Dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis).

The most identifiable difference is the coloring on the ticks "scutum" or the shield behind the tick's head.

Deer Ticks
• Brown/Black scutum or shield
• Deer ticks may transmit the agents that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis
• What bites: nymphs and adult females
• When: anytime temperatures are above freezing, greatest risk is spring through fall

Dog Ticks
• Females have white stripes on scutum or shield. Males have white stripes the length of their bodies.
• Dog ticks do not transmit the agent that causes Lyme disease
• What bites: adult females
• When: April–August

Check our UMaine's tick removal video below!

Thanks for watching!

  Female Black-legged or Deer Tick (Ixodidae: Ixodes scapularis)
Carl Barrentine

Published on May 10, 2013

Photographed while it crawled up the left leg of my faded Levi blue jeans, when I was out looking for more photographic fauna near Fisher, Minnesota (10 May 2013). Go here to learn more about this species:

  How to remove Ticks, Wood or Deer tick. Pull off slowly prevent lyme disease
WillCFish Fishing TipsandTricks

Published on Jun 15, 2015

Easy removal of Wood Ticks and Deer ticks. Watch out for a circle of infection which means Lymes disease could be occurring. Angling for Free Fishing Videos? Here is a video on Fishing Tips and Tricks, I do video on many species such as Catfish, Walleye, Muskie, Northern, Panfish, Salmon to include most freshwater and some saltwater fish. Information good from Fishing Pro to Novice angler will like this instruction where you can Discover Fishing when you are on the hunt for big fish. I will be talking about Fish, Fishing, Outdoors, lures, boats, motors, rods, reels, Bass, Boating, and wildlife.

  Dangerous Deer Ticks
National Geographic

Published on Oct 1, 2012

You don't want this tick anywhere near you. It was near Lyme, Connecticut, that deer ticks transmitted what we now know as Lyme Disease.




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this insect.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.






Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © All rights reserved.