Lone Star Tick
Perhaps one of the easiest ticks to identify, the adult female lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is round, is reddish-brown in color, and can be easily distinguished from other ticks by the presence of a single, white 'dot' in the center of the back. As with most hard ticks, females are generally larger than males.
Scutum coloration in males is dark brown, and sometimes has patches of red. Cream colored or whitish ornations are sometimes present around the festoons of adult males.
||Adult Male||Adult Female||Engorged Female|
Common to the Southeastern US and eastern seaboard, the lone star tick is capable of producing a full generation (larvae, nymph, and egg laying adult females) in a single year. Adults are typically active beginning in January/February and peak sometime between March and May. Nymphs have two primary activity periods, April through June for overwintering ticks and July through August for current year progeny. Peak activity of larvae generally occurs between June and August, but may vary due to seasonal climatic and geographic influences.
This three-host tick tends to have a serial host preference: Larvae and nymphs feed on cats, dogs, deer, and small to large birds and mammals. Adults feed on birds, cats, dogs, deer, and larger animals. All stages will feed on cats, dogs, deer, and humans.
Most commonly found in wooded areas with leaf litter or high grasses. Often linked to areas with high population of white tailed deer, which is its preferred reproductive host.
The lone star tick is recognized by the CDC as the principal vector of ehrlichiosis. White-tailed deer are a primary host of the lone star tick and appear to serve as a natural reservoir for these ticks. The lone star tick is also a vector of tularemia and a bacterial infection whose symptoms appear very similar those seen in Lyme disease, called Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI). Lone Star ticks have now also been linked to a new disease called Alpha-Gal, an allergy to red meats and pork.
The Lone Star tick is found in the southern plains, Midwest and eastern United States. Its range expands in many northern states, including Missouri, New York, New Jersey, and Maine. The range of distribution extends south into Florida, west to Texas, and north through eastern Oklahoma and Kansas.