Deer ticks start out no bigger than a poppyseed

Graphics of tick lifecycle

Deer ticks have a two year life cycle with four life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. Deer ticks become infected during their larval and nymphal phases by feeding on small mammals and birds which harbor the Lyme bacterium. Later in their development, the infected nymphs and adults transfer the Lyme bacteria to animals and people during feeding. The tiny nymphal deer tick is believed to be responsible for up to 90% of human Lyme disease cases. Ticks can transmit other disease to humans, including ehrlichiosis (or angioplasmosis) and babesiosis.

Deer are the preferred host for the adult female tick. After a blood meal, a female tick may lay up to 1,500 eggs, shown below. Picture of tick laying eggs Studies have demonstrated that the size of the tick population is directly related to the size of the deer population. Deer do not infect ticks with Lyme disease; deer ticks become infected with the Lyme disease spirochete after feeding on an infected mouse or other small mammals.

Deer ticks are slow feeders. A deer tick needs to be attached to an individual for at least 36 hours before the Lyme disease spirochete is transmitted. If the deer tick is removed within 24 hours, the chances of getting Lyme disease are very slim.

Dog Ticks also are prevalent in Connecticut; and should not be confused with Deer Ticks. 


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