Groundhog Tick

Ixodes cookei

Groundhog ticks, also referred to as Woodchuck ticks, are very similar in appearance to Blacklegged Deer ticks, so examination by an expert is strongly recommended to safely distinguish between the two species. Fortunately, unlike the case with Deer ticks, Groundhog ticks have not been associated with Lyme disease transmission and do not typically prefer humans as a host.

Groundhog Tick (adult female)Adult Female

Adult Male

Groundhog Tick (nymph)Nymph

Groundhog Tick (larvae)Larvae

Adult female Groundhog ticks are approximately 1/8 inch in length (about the size of a sesame seed) and males are slightly smaller. Adult females are a tan to reddish-tan color with a darker dorsal shield or scutum on the back, behind the head. Larvae and nymphs are a slightly lighter tan color and are much smaller than adults. Woodchuck ticks are similar in appearance to Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) thus microscopic identification may be necessary to differentiate between the two species.

Groundhog Tick (Ixodes cookei)

Groundhog ticks feed primarily on woodchucks and other small mammals, including raccoons, foxes, skunks, weasels, porcupines, dogs, and cats. They have also been found to feed on a number of bird species including robins. They rarely feed on humans.

The life cycle of Groundhog ticks is highly dependent upon the environmental conditions and host availability. Groundhog ticks are primarily active throughout the summer months with numbers peaking during July. On average, these ticks can live a year or more without a blood meal from a host.

Medical Importance

Groundhog ticks are generally considered a nuisance and do *NOT* transmit Lyme disease. They can, however, transmit Powassan virus, a potentially deadly tick-borne illness.

Groundhog ticks can be found anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains, particularly in New England, the northern Midwest, around the Great Lakes, and into southern Canada. They are among the most common tick species in New England, though they are typically found in and around the dens and nests of their host.

Groundhog ticks can be found anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains, particularly in New England, the northern Midwest, around the Great Lakes, and into southern Canada. They are among the most common tick species in Maine, though they are typically found in and around the dens and nests of their host.

Range Map - Groundhog Tick

Not much is known about the groundhog tick apart from its preferred hosts and potential to carry Powassan virus. They are much less common than deer ticks or dog ticks, but can still be found on humans and pets after venturing outside.

These ticks like indoor and outdoor environments, so they will continue to thrive if brought into your house from the outside. Warm, subtropical climates are their preference, as well as cracks and crevices indoors and on kennel ceilings.

Groundhog ticks are prevalent in New England, especially Maine, where they’re the most common tick species in the state. You can usually spot them near the dens of the small animals they host on, like groundhogs, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, foxes, or minks.

Groundhog ticks are not commonly found to attack humans, but it’s not completely unheard of. They will attach themselves to dogs and cats, though, if you take your pets through a high-grass or forestry area.

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