What are Lone Star Ticks?
Lone star ticks, scientifically known as Amblyomma americanum, are a species of ticks primarily found in the eastern and southeastern regions of the United States.
These ticks thrive in forested areas with dense vegetation, which serves as habitats for their primary host, white-tailed deer. According to researchers, the growing deer population and their expansion into suburban and peri-urban regions will likely pave the way for spreading Lone Star ticks into these areas.
- Color: Lone Star ticks have a bright yellow-white dot at the tip of their scutum just behind their heads, coloring an otherwise light brown body. Male lone star ticks have the same light brown coloring, but unlike the namesake female, the scutum possesses a variety of black and white mottling.
- Legs: They have 8 legs
- Shape: Oval
- Size: Nymphs are the size of a poppy seed, larvae are the size of a pinhead and adults are roughly twice that.
- Antennae: No
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What Do Lone Star Ticks Look Like?
Adult female Lone Star ticks are characterized by a single silvery-white spot or “lone star” on their backs, which gives them their common name. However, it’s important to note that this spot may be less visible or absent in some specimens. Adult males have dark-colored bodies with various patterns. Both males and females have long mouthparts.
Migration and Risks
Lone Star ticks are active throughout the year, with peak activity occurring in the spring and summer months. They are known to exhibit a behavior called “questing,” where they crawl up vegetation and extend their forelegs, waiting to latch onto passing hosts. These ticks are attracted to movement, heat, and carbon dioxide, which are indicators of potential hosts.
They are commonly found in areas with dense vegetation, such as forests, grasslands, and shrubby areas. They prefer a humid environment and are often encountered near water sources.
These ticks are three-host ticks, meaning they feed on different hosts during each life stage (larva, nymph, and adult). They are known to infest a wide range of hosts, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. Lone Star ticks are aggressive feeders and can cause discomfort or pain when biting.
Lone Star Tick Precautions
To reduce the risk of tick bites from Lone Star ticks and other tick species, take preventive measures. This includes wearing protective clothing, applying insect repellents containing DEET, conducting thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors, and creating a tick-safe environment by clearing vegetation and employing habitat modifications.
If you’re concerned, reach out to PMi for a home inspection with one of our experienced technicians. Our experts will take a look at your home and property to determine the best path forward for preventing lone star ticks in your space. You may get recommendations for anything from landscaping and pet treatments to exterior treatments on your home and land.
Lone Star Ticks and Red Meat Allergy (“Alpha-gal”)
Occasionally, the bite of a Lone Star tick can lead to sensitivity to a specific carbohydrate called alpha-gal (galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose) found in mammalian muscle and tissue cells. The earliest documented instances of this date back to 1991 when delayed reactions to consuming red meat after being bitten by Lone Star ticks were reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Georgia Allergy Society. Subsequently, cases of increased sensitivity to red meat due to tick bites have also been reported in Australia and Europe.