There are a handful of different tick species in North Carolina. These insects are capable of biting and spreading multiple harmful, and sometimes deadly, diseases. This southern state is home to Brown Dog Ticks, Black-Legged Ticks, Lone Star Ticks, and American Dog Ticks.
In this article we’re going to learn a little bit about each one of them along with the diseases they may spread.
Common Ticks in North Carolina
Here’s a list of 4 ticks that can be found in the state of North Carolina.
1. Brown Dog Tick
- Scientific name: Rhipicephalus sanguineous
- Appearance: brown
- Active times: all year
- Diseases: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
One of the most common types of ticks found across the state of North Carolina is the Brown Dog Tick. This tick can be found throughout the entire year and is not limited to being active during specific seasons. While it is extremely common, this tick is more often than not found on dogs. It is rare for them to be found on people.
The Brown Dog Tick enjoys nesting in dog kennels, especially along the hard-to-notice crevices. Female brown ticks can lay thousands of eggs, and without proper tick control, a dog kennel can be infested within just a few weeks.
Infestations of these ticks can also spread to walls, curtains, and furniture. If these ticks do bite people, they are known to spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
2. Black-legged Tick
- Scientific name: Ixodes scapularis
- Appearance: brown body with dark legs
- Active times: spring, summer, fall
- Diseases: Lyme Disease
The Black-Legged Tick is common throughout all of North Carolina during most of the year, except for the winter season. These insects come out once temperatures start to warm to above freezing, and they will continue to be active throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Black-legged Ticks are one of the main transmitters of Lyme Disease.
They feed on large mammals like deer and dogs, lizards, and other types of animals depending on their stage in life. Adults will feed on large mammals, while nymphs and larvae will feed on small mammals and reptiles.
3. Lone Star Tick
- Scientific name: Amblyomma americanum
- Appearance: brown rounded body
- Active times: spring, summer, and fall
- Diseases: ehrlichiosis, alpha-gal allergy, Southern Tick Associated Rash Infection
The Lone Star Tick is one of the most common and abundant tick species found in North Carolina. They are active in both the spring and summer seasons, however, larvae are active during fall months.
This type of tick can cause the disease Southern Tick Associated Rash Infection, which can appear similar to Lyme Disease. Lone Star Ticks will attack people and large animals, such as dogs, deer, and coyotes.
In addition to Southern Tick Associated Rash Infection, bites from this tick have also been linked to causing a meat allergy called the alpha-gal allergy. It is an allergy to mammal meat like venison, rabbit, pork, beef, and more. This tick can also transmit ehrlichiosis.
4. American Dog Tick
- Scientific name: Dermacentor variabilis
- Appearance: brown
- Active times: fall, spring, summer
- Diseases: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
You might find the American Dog Tick in the suburban and rural areas of North Carolina. These ticks enjoy wooded areas and shrubbery and are frequently discovered on farmlands.
Throughout its life, the American Dog Tick will feed on different types of animals. Larvae are commonly found on small mammals like voles and field mice, while nymphs like to feed on slightly bigger raccoons and opossums.
Once American Dog Ticks become adults they will start attacking people, dogs, and large mammals. Even though this type of tick does not spread Lyme Disease, they do spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. American Dog Ticks are active in the fall, summer, and spring, and they are most commonly found in the Piedmont region of the state.
Common Disease Spread by Ticks
These common North Carolina tick species are known for transmitting multiple diseases. Not every species will spread the same diseases, and some are more likely to bite people than others. These ticks may transmit Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and more.
Ticks that spread this: lone-star tick, black-legged tick
Lyme Disease is a serious disease that can be transmitted by multiple types of ticks. It occurs in three different stages that have different symptoms. It is commonly spread by the black-legged tick, also called a deer tick and the lone star tick.
This happens in wild animals, as well as people, and can lead to long-term symptoms. One of the first signs is an uncomfortable rash. This disease progresses into other symptoms such as pain, fatigue, neurological complications, mood changes, and memory loss.
The exact symptoms and severity of these symptoms that people experience will depend on how long they have been infected, and how they are treating it.
Ticks that spread this: western black-legged tick, black-legged tick, lone-star tick
Ehrlichiosis is mostly transmitted by lone-star ticks, but it can also be spread by western black-legged and black-legged ticks. This disease can appear similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever because of the symptoms they both share. Common symptoms of Ehrlichiosis include headaches, confusion, nausea, fever, and rash.
This disease can appear in animals and was first recorded in people in 1987. One of the best ways to prevent this disease, and other tick-spread illnesses, is by regularly checking yourself, and properly removing any that have attached. Many diseases will not be transmitted until the tick is attached for at least a few hours, so quick detection is key.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Ticks that spread this disease: American dog tick
One of the most common tick-transmitted diseases is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. This is spread by American dog ticks, who will transfer the illness from an infected animal to a human that they attach to. Wild animals can carry this disease, as well as pets, and if a person is infected they should seek treatment immediately.
Symptoms will usually start within 2 to 14 days from being bitten by a tick. These symptoms include a rash, chills, aches, nausea, pain, headaches, and fever. Ticks must be attached for at least six hours to spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
The few tick species found in North Carolina can transmit a number of diseases, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis. These insects are considered invasive species and will attach to both animals and people.