Lone star tick

Species:
Amblyomma americanum
Linnaeus
Lone Star Tick

 

Description:
Adult females are reddish-brown in color and can be readily distinguished from other ticks by the presence of a single, solitary spot atop the center of the back which is often iridescent and may vary in color from white to cream, or gold to bronze. Among ixodid ticks (or "hard ticks"), females are generally larger than males. Lone star tick females average 4-6 mm unfed, and up to 16 mm or larger once fully fed. Size among lone star tick males averages 2-5 mm regardless of feeding state. Scutum coloration in males is dark brown, sometimes with patches of red. Cream colored or whitish ornations are usually present along the posterior dorsal margins of the scutum and festoons of adult males.

LST DistributionDistribution:
The lone star tick is common to the Southeastern quarter of the US, ranging along the eastern seaboard with over-wintering populations established as far north as coastal Maine in recent years.  Recent evidence indicates further westward and northern expansion as shown in the map.

Hosts: Lone star ticks attack a wide range of hosts in all three lifestages. Larvae and nymphs feed on small mammals and ground-frequenting birds in addition to white-tailed deer, cattle and other large animals. Adult ticks parasitize deer, cattle, horses, feral swine, sheep, dogs, and humans.

Biology: The lone star tick is a 3-host tick capable of producing a generation (larvae, nymph, and egg laying adult females) per year.  There are distinct seasonal activity patterns for each lifestage. Adults overwinter, and depending on latitude become active January-February and typically peaking March-May. Nymphs have two activity periods in southern latitudes, April-June for overwintering ticks and July-August for current year progeny. Peak activity of larvae generally occurs June-August, but may vary due to seasonal climatic and geographic influences.

Primary Associated Disease Pathogens and Concerns: