This was one of ELEVEN blacklegged (deer) ticks that I found scrambling up my leg this afternoon...all at the same time! It was only 37 degrees F (3 degrees C) outside, but the ticks were still very active! Contrary to what many people would assume, the risk of getting bitten by a deer tick does not decline during late autumn/early winter in the Northeast. Deer ticks neither die nor do they enter diapause when the weather turns cold. They are not killed by freezing temperatures and can remain active from fall until spring as long as the temperature is above freezing.
All eleven ticks were adults - 9 were female and 2 male. The tick pictured in this spotting is an adult, female blacklegged tick. They have black heads and dorsal shields, dark red abdomens, and 8 legs.
Spotted in a deciduous forest.
The lifecycle of blacklegged ticks generally lasts two years. During this time, they go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and eight-legged adult. They are three-host ticks, which means that they must have one bloodmeal during each life stage (larva, nymph, adult) in order to survive. In addition, blacklegged ticks are the main vector of Lyme disease in North America. They can also transmit other diseases such as Babesiosis, Powassan, and Anaplasmosis.