Most Common Ticks Found on Long Island
Spending time outdoors on Long Island means a lot of things, like cool ocean breezes and warm sunshine. But it can also mean ticks. That's right, ticks. Even when we don't spend time in heavily wooded areas or hiking trails, ticks can appear out of nowhere. From the suburban neighborhoods of Nassau County, to the sprawling farms in Suffolk County, ticks are pests that suck, literally.
One of the most frequently asked questions on the subject of ticks is "will I get Lyme disease?", and the answer isn't so simple. First, it depends on what type of tick has presented itself. While not all species of ticks carry Lyme disease, all ticks can transmit infection that can be dangerous or deadly. So what are the most common ticks found on Long Island? And what diseases do they carry?
Blacklegged Tick (Deer Tick)
The Blacklegged Tick, or Deer Tick is known as such for it's tendency to parasitize white-tailed deer. It will also feed on mice, birds, reptiles, even humans. They are typically black when not engorged, but turn a blue-grey color after a blood meal. Ticks are most likely to bite humans during summer months, and after a tick has had a blood meal they will overwinter, then lay hundreds to thousands of eggs. Blacklegged Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and more. Symptoms of Lyme disease are headache, fever, fatigue and a characteristic rash. Removal of a tick within the first 24 hours of exposure greatly reduces the risk of infection, and Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
Lone Star Tick
The Lone Star Tick gets it's name from a white dot, or star on the female ticks back. While Lone Star Ticks used to be primarly found on the east end of Long Island, they have moved further west in recent years spurring widespread advisories and warnings for prevention and precaution. While Lone Star Ticks are not vectors for Lyme disease, they can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia. Symptoms include fever, headache, rash and muscle aches.
American Dog Tick
Like the Lone Star Tick, the American Dog Tick may transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or tularemia. They are brown with whitish markings, and they are attracted to the scent of animals usually feeding on dogs and cats. Like other ticks, the actually don't jump or fly. They wait in tall grasses for animals or people to pass by, then climb onto them to look for a place to feed.
There are steps we can take to protect ourselves when venturing into areas where ticks typically live, like wearing long sleeves and pants. Or using a tick repellent (according to label directions), and inspecting clothes and ourselves before going indoors. If you find a tick, remove it immediately. If you find more than one tick and think you may need treatment, contact your local pest management professional, and if you experience any symptoms be sure to contact a medical professional. Ticks definitely suck, but they don't have to ruin your backyard or your summer!