Deer Tick Identification Removal, Bite, What does a Deer Tick Look Like

Deer Tick Identification

Deer Tick Identification…is important if you want to know whether your bite or bites are from this specific variety as they can carry lyme disease.


deer tick identification

We are often asked what does a deer tick look like, so we have provided a photo (above) and pictures of this nasty littleparasite and also a guide to the home removal and the best way to remove ticks from dogs…

Deer Tick Identification – Made Easy!

  • The best way to identify adeer tick is to look at it’s size, shape and color.
  • During each stage intheir life cycle they have a black head and just behind their head theyhave a black dorsal shield.

There are other characteristics which make identification easier butthis would need to be done under a microscope….for example…

  • Their anal openinglooks very similar to a belly button and is on the underside of theparasite
  • The difference with adeer tick is that their anal opening is nearerthe lower edge of the abdomen and sits in a ridge that is shaped like ahorseshoe.
  • Common typesof ticks have ridges on thebottom edge of the abdomen known as festoons – deer ticks do nothave festoons.

Deer Tick Identification

Tick Life cycle

Thetick life cycle goes through three developmental stages…

  1. Larva
  2. Nymph
  3. Adult

Follow the advice and pictures that we have provided below on each developmental stage so that your are more able to identify this nasty little parasite, and hopefully avoid a bite.

Deer Tick Eggs

deer tick identification

The life cycleof this nasty little parasite starts with the female laying a clutch ofeggs, like the ones in the picture above. These eggs will then hatchinto larva.

Deer Tick Larva

deer tick identification

  • Did you know that the larva (like the photo above) hatch from their eggs from the months of May through until September.
  • The Larva does notactually carry Lyme disease and will not contract it or other diseasesuntil after it has attached itself to it’s host
  • Lava tend to fee onsmall mammals like mice. If the Mouse carries the Lyme disease bacteriathis will then be passed on to the larva.
  • After the larva has fed on it’s host, it will then molt into nymphs and will the lay dormant until spring of the following year.


Deer Tick Nymph

deer tick identification


  • The following springor summer the nymph will take it’s second feed on it’s chosen host.
  • If the nymph was notinfected with a disease like lyme disease at the larva stage it can nowbecome infected if it’s second host is carrying the disease.
  • The nymph is very small and in your hand or on your dog it will look like a freckle or a speck of dirt.

Deer Tick Adult

deer tick identification

  • In the second year’sfall the adult will emerge, once the nymph has molted.
  • The female adult tickwill feed on it’s host, mate and even lay it’s eggs on it’s host.
  • The female will feastover the course of several days and their body will get bigger as theygorge.
  • If the female isinfected it can transmit Lyme disease and other diseasesduring feeding
  • Although males dobecome attached to mammals etc they do not feed on blood so they do nottransmit diseases like Lyme disease, babesisosis or human anaplasmosis.
  • Frost does not killdeer ticks.

Deer Tick Identification

Home Deer Tick Removal

  • Remember that deerticks do actually prefer to attach themselves to deer as it’s primaryhost.
  • It is very importantthat when you remove the parasite from it’s host, that you do it verycarefully as if you do it ineffectively it may raise the risk ofinfection.
  • Use a pair of tweezersand hold the parasite as close to the skin as possible and very gentlyremove the tick.
  • Do not hold theparasite by it’s abdomen otherwise it may burst and release more veryunattractive and possibly dangerous fluids.
  • Do not use alcoholbefore you start to remove the parasite as this may make the parasitestart to regurgitate its last feed and this can cause more risks ofinfection.
  • Make sure that the mouth parts of the parasite are completely removed otherwise if they are left inthey may cause infection.

Ifyou would like more information on the best way to remove the parasite,check out our section on removingticks from dogs.
We hope this page has made deer tick identification easier for you and your family.

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