American Dog Tick


The American dog tick, is a common pest of pets and humans. The adult males and females are frequently encountered by sportsmen and people who work outdoors. Dogs are the preferred host, although the American dog tick will feed on other warmblooded animals. The nymphal stages of the American dog tick usually only attack rodents. For this reason the American dog tick is not considered a household pest.

American dog tick

American dog tick.
CREDITS: J. F. Butler, University of Florida

The female dog tick lays 4000-6500 eggs and then dies. The eggs hatch into seed ticks in 36-57 days. The unfed larvae crawl in search of a host and can live 540 days without food. When a small rodent is found, the larvae attach and feed for approximately 5 days. The larvae then drop off the host and molt to the nymphal stage. The nymphs crawl about in search of a rodent host, attach to it, and engorge with blood in 3-11 days. Nymphs can live without food for up to 584 days.

Adults crawl about in search of dogs or large animals for a blood meal. Adults can live for up to 2 years without food. American dog tick adults and many other species can be found along roads, paths, and trails, on grass, and on other low vegetation in a "waiting position." As an animal passes by the tick will grasp it firmly and soon start feeding on its host. The males remain on the host for an indefinite period of time alternately feeding and mating. The females feed, mate, become engorged, and then drop off to lay their eggs.

The American dog tick requires from 3 months to 3 years to complete a life cycle. It is typically an outdoor tick and is dependent on climatic and environmental conditions for its eggs to hatch.

Tick life cycle

Tick life cycle.

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