Ticks in New Hampshire

Close up female rhipicephalus sanguineus on recycle paper. They get their common name from its overall reddish brown color.
© 7th Son Studio/Shutterstock.com

Written by Brandi Allred

Published: May 24, 2022

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Ticks, including ticks in New Hampshire, are some of the oldest bloodsuckers on the planet. They’ve been around for about 100 million years, which means ticks sucked the blood of dinosaurs! Finding a tick in New Hampshire isn’t hard, you simply go outside in the summer, and poke around in the grass or bushes. But, as we’ll learn here, not even the indoors are safe from these tiny draculas. 

There are only three types of ticks in New Hampshire, and only one of those species carries the deadly pathogen responsible for Lyme disease. Here, we’ll learn how to identify each of these three species of tick, and what illnesses each is known to spread. Then, we’ll take a closer look at when and where you’re most likely to encounter ticks in New Hampshire. Finally, we’ll discover the steps you can take to have a fun-filled, tick-free summer in New Hampshire this year.

American Dog Tick

American dog tick isolated on white background.

Both female and male American dog ticks are easily distinguishable from the deer tick.

©iStock.com/epantha

American dog ticks in New Hampshire are larger than either of the other tick species found in the state. More than that, they’re easy to recognize. Female American dog ticks are light brown, with a distinct mottled white scutum. The scutum is the inflexible shield that covers the area directly behind their head. Males have all over white and brown mottling, but share the large size with the females.

American dog ticks are the primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a potentially serious illness. However, there have been very few recorded cases of this fever in New Hampshire. American dog ticks, also known as wood ticks, live in forested areas and stay away from open fields. They may feed on deer, raccoons, squirrels, dogs, humans, or other creatures.

Deer Tick

Two deer ticks isolated on white background.

Also known as black-legged ticks, these ticks get their name from their favorite source of bloodmeals, and from their looks.

©KPixMining/Shutterstock.com

Deer ticks in New Hampshire are easy to recognize by their black legs. Both males and females have black legs—hence their other name, the black-legged tick. Male deer ticks have dark brown to black bodies, while females have red-brown bodies. Additionally, their mouthparts are large and easily visible. 

Of all the ticks in New Hampshire, the deer tick is the only one capable of passing Lyme disease through its saliva. This is because the deer tick is a vector of Lyme disease, meaning it can carry the illness and pass it on without suffering from it. The deer tick’s favorite blood comes from the white-tail deer, but they’re also notorious for feeding off humans.

Brown Dog Tick

The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus isolated on white background.

You’re most likely to find brown dog ticks feeding off your canine companion.

©iStock.com/Goldfinch4ever

Unique among ticks in New Hampshire, the brown dog ticks actually spend their entire life indoors. These ticks feed primarily on the blood of dogs and other medium-sized animals. They have medium brown, narrow bodies that can swell up to six times their original size when engorged. You’re most likely to encounter them in homes with dogs, or in dog-related businesses like veterinary offices or kennels.

Brown dog ticks carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but rarely give it to humans. This is because their first choice in meal is canine. They can, however, pass on several dog-specific diseases to their furry hosts. Because brown dog ticks live all over the world, it’s important to have your dog treated with preventative tick and flea treatment. This greatly reduces their chance of becoming host to these ticks in New Hampshire.

When is Tick Season in New Hampshire?

As with most of the states in the northeastern part of the country, summer in New Hampshire is hot and dry, and winter is cold and snowy. Because ticks thrive best in warm, humid climates, they tend to be most active in the spring, summer, and early fall months. May-June is particularly bad when it comes to ticks in New Hampshire, as new baby ticks hatch in the spring. 

Do Ticks in New Hampshire have Lyme Disease?

People looking at a wood tick embedded in human skin.

Lyme disease is one of the many diseases, illnesses, and pathogens carried by ticks.

©Kalcutta/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve heard of ticks, you’ve probably heard of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans through the saliva of ticks. When deer ticks feed on humans, they have the potential to introduce Lyme disease into their systems. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of Lyme disease are misdiagnosed as symptoms of other illnesses. Because of this, Lyme disease can become a potentially debilitating, chronic illness in sufferers.

Where do Ticks Live in New Hampshire?

Aside from brown dog ticks, which live inside, the best places to find ticks in New Hampshire are forests and fields. American dog ticks are more likely to be found in forested areas, usually hanging out in the leaf litter on the forest floor. Deer ticks prefer open fields, where they wait on the tips of tall grass, or the edges of shrubs, for hosts to brush by.

If you’re planning on any outdoor activities in New Hampshire this summer, try to stay away from tall grass or dense vegetation. Anytime you brush against foliage, you’re giving the ticks an opportunity to cling to you, and eventually, bite you.

How to Avoid Ticks in New Hampshire

Western Black-Legged Tick

Ticks can bite any exposed flesh and may remain undetected until they fall off.

©Kaldari / Creative Commons – Original / License

There are a few key ways to avoid ticks in New Hampshire. The first, and easiest step, is to use insect repellent, especially the kind that contains permethrin. Next, always wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, as ticks cannot bite through clothing. Ticks can’t jump or run either, so staying away from tall grass and other foliage is a good idea too. Finally, always check yourself and others for embedded ticks after outdoor activities.


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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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