Ticks are a nuisance across most of the United States, and Delaware is no exception. Delawareans venturing out into the great outdoors, especially in the summer months, need to know how to identify at least 10 of the ticks found in Delaware.
Ticks carry diseases that are harmful to humans. They go through a life cycle, and as they get bigger, they feed on bigger things. Their middle stage, nymphs, feed on populations of rodents or birds that are known disease reservoirs.
These nymphs then turn into adults that feed on larger species like deer and humans. The blood-to-blood contact via the tick from mammal to mammal is what spreads disease. Delaware is one of the top 10 states in the US to contract Lyme disease, which is the most concerning tick pathogen in America.
Finding an attached tick as quickly as possible gives any bloodborne pathogens less of an opportunity to take hold. Which ticks should you watch out for in Delaware, and where do these ticks live? We’ll discuss ten of the most common ticks in Delaware and some details, so you know how to identify them.
10 Ticks in Delaware
These are 10 of the ticks in Delaware:
- Lone Star Tick
- Asian Longhorned Tick
- Deer Tick
- American Dog Tick
- Gulf Coast Tick
- Brown Dog Tick
- Winter Tick
- Rabbit Tick
- Groundhog Tick
- Squirrel Tick
1. Lone Star Tick in Delaware
Out of our 10 ticks, the lone star tick is the most common in Delaware. It’s a known vector of the alpha-gal syndrome, which causes the development of an allergic reaction to red meat. This tick also spreads ehrlichiosis and other diseases that affect humans, dogs, and cats.
Females are easily identified by the white spot on their backs. Lone star ticks are most prevalent in Sussex and Kent Counties, though there are some in New Castle County.
2. Asian Long-Horned Tick in Delaware
Asian longhorned ticks are less of a nuisance to humans than they are to livestock or pets. They’re not known to transmit any disease in the United States, though they’re known harbingers of pathogens in Asia. Kent and New Castle Counties play host to these ticks.
3. Deer Tick in Delaware
Deer ticks are also known as black-legged ticks. They spread Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. These ticks are in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex Counties. They’re found all over the state in any forested area. Ninety-eight percent of the ticks found on white-tailed deer are deer ticks.
4. American Dog Tick in Delaware
American dog ticks prefer tall grass and adult dogs. They’re among the most concerning species on our list because they are the main vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
These ticks commonly feast on pets and humans, and their propensity for existing near hiking trails and other spaces that humans traverse makes them a common bite culprit.
5. Gulf Coast Tick in Delaware
Gulf Coast ticks are found in the wetland areas of Delaware. They also like to hang out in meadows. These ticks are also commonly mistaken for deer ticks, but their legs are red instead of black.
Gulf Coast ticks are known vectors of Rickettsia parkeri and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. They don’t feast on humans often, though, so they’re not as threatening of a pest as some of the others on our list.
6. Brown Dog Tick in Delaware
Brown dog ticks are notoriously disgusting because they live readily indoors. Most ticks have to spend most of their lives outside, but this tick is an exception.
Brown dog ticks love dog kennels, as their favorite foods are dogs and coyotes, but they’ll readily bite humans as well. They’re responsible for a lot of recorded bites because of their proximity to humans in dog bedding.
7. Winter Tick in Delaware
While winter ticks are common, they don’t have a taste for human blood. These ticks are unique because they only parasitize one host their entire life. They’re called winter ticks because they’re most active in winter.
Winter ticks like large animals like bears, moose, and deer. Hunters usually find them in the fall months, but they pose little risk and are not known vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
8. Rabbit Tick in Delaware
Since rabbit ticks prefer grouse and rabbits, they’re called rabbit ticks or grouse ticks. They rarely bite humans, and when humans encounter them, it’s usually on the ears of a rabbit.
These ticks are common throughout North and South America. They prefer any kind of forested environment. They are vectors for Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia in their nonhuman hosts, but their tendency to steer clear of people makes them relatively harmless.
9. Groundhog Tick in Delaware
As the name implies, groundhog ticks like the blood of small mammals like groundhogs. They’re also found on foxes, dogs, birds, and raccoons. They transmit the Powassan virus, but they aren’t vectors for Lyme disease.
The Powassan virus is asymptomatic in a lot of people, but for those it affects severely, the consequences are devastating. It may cause encephalitis, and it also causes weakness, slurred speech, headaches, and seizures.
Groundhog ticks hardly ever bite humans, so they’re not much of a concern compared to some of the other ticks found in Delaware.
10. Squirrel Tick in Delaware
Squirrel ticks are paler than other ticks, which makes them easy to identify. These ticks are larger than most other ticks on our list. They’re not known vectors of any disease.
Squirrel ticks hardly feed on humans. Their preferred hosts are raccoons, rabbits, foxes, mice, and rats. They’re most commonly found in their bedding. These ticks are in their southern range in Delaware and are found all the way north to Maine.