Types of Ticks in Vermont
Thirteen different species of ticks have been identified in Vermont (click here for the full list). Of these 13 species, five are known to bite humans and four of those five can transmit diseases. However, over 99% of all tickborne diseases reported to the Vermont Department of Health are caused by only one tick: the blacklegged tick.
Name: Blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis)
Distribution: Blacklegged ticks can be found throughout Vermont.
Hosts: white-footed mouse, deer mouse, chipmunks, shrews, white-tailed deer.
Activity: in Vermont, blacklegged tick activity fluctuates throughout the year. After laying low during the cold winter months, these ticks usually become active in late March or early April. Their peak activity typically occurs in May and June when nymphal ticks are looking for a host. Tick activity increases once again in October and November when adult ticks are looking for another host before cold winter temperatures set in once again.
Although blacklegged tick activity typically follows this pattern, it is important to note that these ticks might be encountered at any time of year when the temperature is above freezing.
Name: American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
Distribution: American dog ticks can be found throughout Vermont.
Habitat: found mostly in grassy fields and other areas with little tree cover
Hosts: feeds on small rodents and medium-sized wild mammals, domestic cats, dogs and humans
Active: from April through September
Name: Lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum)
Distribution: Lone star ticks are found primarily in southern Vermont.
Habitat: woodlands with plenty of undergrowth
Hosts: feeds on squirrels, raccoons, deer, cattle, some bird species, cats, dogs and humans
Transmits: The Lone star tick is responsible for transmitting ehrlichiosis in Vermont. Both nymphs and adults can transmit disease. Larvae cannot transmit disease.
Active: April through September
Name: Woodchuck tick (Ixodes cookei)
Distribution: Woodchuck ticks can be found throughout Vermont.
Habitat: generally found in the burrow of its host animal, rarely found on vegetation
Hosts: woodchucks, foxes, skunks, weasels, porcupines, small mammals, some bird species, raccoons, cats, dogs and humans
Transmits: Powassan virus disease, although this disease is extremely rare in Vermont
Active: generally in the summer months
Name: Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
Distribution: Brown dog ticks can be found throughout Vermont.
Transmits: The brown dog tick will bite humans, but there is no evidence that it transmits diseases in Vermont.
Hosts: mostly dogs
Habitat: Generally brown dog ticks can be found wherever humans and dogs live. Unlike other tick species, the brown dog tick is well-suited for living indoors.
Active: may be active throughout the year
Pathogen prevalence in blacklegged ticks
The Vermont Department of Health has collaborated with colleagues at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Lyndon State College to determine the prevalence of disease in Vermont's blacklegged tick population. Over 2,000 ticks were collected and tested between 2013 and 2016.
|Pathogen||percentage of ticks that tested positive|
Over 60% of the ticks collected as part of this initiative tested positive for at least one disease. A small sample of these ticks was also tested for Powassan virus. Approximately 1% tested positive for Powassan virus.
Blacklegged ticks can carry more than one pathogen at the same time. Almost 5% of the ticks tested positive for two or more pathogens. The most commonly found combination (4.0%) found in ticks were the pathogens that cause anaplasmosis and Lyme disease.