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American Dog Tick

Ixodidae Dermacentor variabilis

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Order: Acarina (Mites)

Suborder: Ixodides (Ticks)

Family: Ixodidae (Hard Ticks)

Genus: Dermacentor

Ticks, like all mites, do not have a separate head from their abdomen. The American Dog Tick can vary from dark brown to bright red depending on when it last fed. Note the distinctive mouth parts that are extended in our specimen (see picture). An unfed female is about 4 mm long, but can nearly triple in length when engorged. The male is about 3 mm long.

Habitat:                                                           .                                                                                         
In the woods or fields, moving around with a host. Occasionally found on webmasters too.

The hatching larvae infest rodents, where they suck blood until engorged and drop off, molt into nymphs and find small animal hosts. Finally, the engorged nymphs drop to the soil and turn into adults, which seek out hosts to live and mate on. They inject saliva into their hosts to anesthetize them, preventing them from noticing the tick.

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Last updated 12/13/2004