Despite being small, ticks are a serious pest that has the potential to harm the health of the host that they feed on. These tiny vampires are more than an annoyance; some species have the potential to transmit diseases to animals and humans. Because of the serious health complications, it is important to know the different species of ticks in Ohio.
Ticks In Ohio
According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, there are about 12 different species of tick in Ohio, but only a few of those species should raise concern due to disease transmission. The American dog tick, black-legged tick, lone star tick, and brown tick are the 4 potentially harmful ticks in Ohio.
1. American Dog Tick
Scientific Name: Dermacentor variabilis
The most common tick species in Ohio is the American dog tick. The adult is the largest tick in Ohio, measuring about 3/16 of an inch when unfed, and has a brown body with some light gray coloring. These ticks are found in grassy areas, such as paths or along roadways, and prefer shrubby or woody environments.
The immature stage of the American dog tick typically feeds on small mammals and rodents, while the adults feast on larger mammals like raccoons, dogs, and even humans.
Adult American dog ticks are most active during the spring and summer months, and they wait in the weeds until a host brushes up against the plant. The tick then clings to the host and attaches itself once it reaches the host’s skin. Once attached, they will feed on the blood of the host.
The American dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It also has the potential to spread tularemia. Another potential health issue with the American dog tick is tick paralysis. This occurs when the tick injects its saliva into the host, causing numbness, tingling, and weakness. Thankfully, once the tick is removed, the host will quickly recover.
2. Black-legged tick
Scientific Name: Ixodes scapularis
The black-legged tick has only recently become a serious problem in Ohio. It wasn’t until 2010 that this tick species became more prevalent. This tick has dark brown coloring, but the bottom half of the female black-legged tick is orange or red. It measures about 1/16 to 3/32 of an inch long when unfed.. As with most tick species, the female is larger than the male.
The black-legged tick thrives in or near forests and woodlands. The adults feed on white-tailed deer and other large mammals. The various life stages of the black-legged tick are active throughout the entire year, which means you should take preventative measures when you go outdoors, no matter what season.
The black-legged tick carries Lyme disease, as well as babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis. What makes this tick species even scarier is that it has the ability to infect a host with more than one disease at the same time.
3. Lone Star Tick
Scientific Name: Amblyomma americanum
Lone star ticks are considered a serious pest in Ohio, particularly in the southern portion of the state. This tick has a brown body with a silver spot located at the top part of its scutum. The male adult lone star tick also has a brown body, but with white markings on the edge of its rear. An adult female measures 3/16 of an inch when unfed.
Despite being most common in southern Ohio, these tick species have also been found in other areas of the state thanks to bird migration. The lone star tick feeds on just about any mammal, including birds and humans, and is active during the warm months.
The lone star tick thrives in shrubby and grassy habitats that have shade, such as shady areas near meadows and roadways. The tick will hang out on the top of plants that grow low to the ground and wait for an unsuspecting host to walk by. When a potential host brushes against the plant, the tick attaches to the host.
The lone star tick can transmit southern tick-associated rash illness and human monocytic ehrlichiosis. It can also transmit Q-fever and tularemia.
4. Brown Dog Tick
Scientific Name: Rhipicephalus sanguineus
The brown dog tick isn’t common in Ohio, but it has been documented in the state. This is the only species of tick that can actually establish itself indoors, although this typically only occurs in homes that have dogs and kennels.
The adult of this species has a reddish brown body without any markings. Adults measure around 1/8 of an inch when unfed. One thing that makes the brown dog tick different than other ticks is that it is able to survive in dry and warm environments that are found both inside and outside of residential dwellings. They also don’t do well in wooded or forested areas, but they can survive in bushy or grassy habitats.
The brown dog tick prefers to feed on dogs and very rarely consumes the blood of humans. Adult brown dog ticks are usually found between the toes or on the ears of dogs, while the other stages can attach themselves anywhere on your pooch.
Even though there haven’t been any reports of human disease transmission of the brown dog tick in Ohio, this tick has transmitted Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans in states along the United States/Mexico border, as well as states in southwestern portions of the US. It can also transmit various diseases to dogs.