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Lone Star Tick

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Life Cycle

The earliest significant activity of Lone star ticks begins when average ambient temperatures are above 10° C (50° F).

Each female produces 3,000-8,000 eggs, which are deposited under leaf and soil litter in middle to late spring. Incubation may take 30 days or longer, depending on temperature.

The newly hatched six-legged larvae or seed ticks feed for 3 to 7 days on a host. After full engorgement the larvae drop from the host into vegetation and shed their skins 9-27 days later.

Figure 1: Larva of the Lone star tick.

The eight-legged nymphs attach to a second host and feed for up to 38 days; the nymphs then detach and rest for 13-46 days before they shed their skins to become adults.

Figure 2: Nymph and adult of the Lone star tick.

Adults attach to a third host, feed for 6-24 days, and detach.

Adult numbers peak in May and decline until the end of June.

Nymphal Lone star ticks have a much longer period of activity and may occur from May through early August, with a peak in activity during May or June.

Figure 3: Adult male Lone star tick.
Figure 4: Adult female Lone star tick.

The larvae first appear in late July and peak in early August. Larval activity may also continue until late September. These larvae result from female ticks that have successfully fed and mated with a male tick earlier that same spring.

Oviposition occurs 7-16 days after the last blood meal. Larvae may survive for 2-9 months, and nymphs and adults for 4-15 months each; the life cycle may take up to 2 years to complete.

Lone star tick nymphs can move very quickly and may cover a person's legs or arms in less than five minutes. This is a good behavioural characteristic to note to aid in identification of this tick species.

Adults and nymphs are active from early spring through midsummer, while larvae are active mainly from late summer to early fall. Low humidities and high daytime temperatures restrict the occurrence and activity of these ticks.

   

Further information

  • Sonenshine DE: Biology of Ticks. Part 1, 1991, Oxford University Press, New York

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