Lone Star Tick Scientific Name: Amblyomma americanum
Lone Star Tick Facts
Lone star ticks are one of the most aggressive ticks known to man and are especially well established in Texas, from which its common name derives. They flourish in warm climates where thick bush allows for hospitable environments in which they wait for a host. They are common to many places in south-west America and live in other regions as well, though less frequently. They are native to America and have been found as far north as Maine.
Like most other ticks, lone star ticks are a vector for many diseases, and a bite may incur a nasty rash and possible secondary infections. Medical attention should be sought in the case of a bite, and patients are usually treated with a course of antibiotics. Lone star ticks in general are found in long, grassy areas, and these areas should be especially avoided in summer months when the lone star females lay their eggs. You can identify them from their one single white star on the shell.
Lone Star Tick Identification
The Lone Star Tick resembles a miniature crab a with fat, round body, a hard, glossy shell and eight shorts legs. They are considered a hard tick due to their hard shell. Females, however, may become even more swollen when carrying or are ready to lay eggs. They have a very small, protruding head which has sharp teeth to penetrate skin. This species will only grow to an inch, often less. The result of a lone star tick bite may cause a nasty red rash, which is similar to, but not be indicative, of Lyme’s disease.
Despite their name, which is a reflection of their common location in Texas, it is also named after their one single white spot that appears on their backs, much like a lonesome star. The male lone star tick may also have other, darker, less-defined spots dotted around its back.
Lone Star Tick Habitat
Much like many other species, lone star ticks prefer woodlands and warm humid climates in which thick vegetation is present. They are found frequently in the south-west of America but may also be found less commonly in the northern states, where thick underbrush allows for similar environments and hospitable conditions.
Lone star ticks may also spend much of their time feeding and living on an unsuspecting host which can range from wildlife to farm animals, pets and even humans. They are an aggressive tick, which means they are less likely to be threatened by larger hosts and more likely to approach and latch onto humans.
Lone Star Tick Life Cycle
Lone star ticks undergo four life phases. These are an egg, a larvae, a nymph and an adult phase in which sexual maturity is reached. Mating occurs the end of summer and eggs are laid in the fall. During this time, the mother will feed extensively to prepare her eggs for the following phases. The female will lay her eggs into soil, known as a ground litter, and may produce several thousand eggs at any one time. The males die from natural causes shorty after mating.
When the eggs of the lone star tick hatch, they become larvae. They may also be known as seed ticks during this time, given their capacity to grow into adult ticks. Larvae usually occur in early spring time, at which point an overlap of other generations may occur from other mates. Peak seasons are March, May, June, July and August. Once the larvae has completed feeding, shedding and has reached its full size, it becomes a mature adult and will seek out their own mates. The adult may go on to live for an additional two years, with males often living shorter depending on mating.
Lone Star Ticks and Humans
Lone star ticks are common in Texas and other southern states and can cause an array of problems for humans and pets. Farm animals are also susceptible, due to this aggressive tick being less threatened from larger hosts. If bitten, a nasty red rash will occur. Over time, the problems can escalate into a medical emergency. This species of tick injects saliva into the wound to anesthetize the area. This can spread through the body and result in paralysis. This process may be quicker for smaller animals or children.
Secondary complaints include a number of vector diseases that can be transmitted by the lone star tick upon biting. This includes STARI, or Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, which has similar symptoms to Lyme’s Disease, but has been proven an entirely different illness altogether. The rash appears as a bulls-eye effect, with a large red outer ring and a white inside with a dot where the bite was. The wound may also become infected and medical treatment is always recommended. Usually antibiotics are prescribed and symptoms are reduced in a few weeks.
Lone Star Tick Control
Lone star ticks are an aggressive tick and require a firm and regular pest control plan in order to prevent disease, bites and other nasty side effects.
Prevention: Avoid long grassy areas or places which have thick or dense woodlands when out and about. These areas should especially be avoided in the summer months when lone star ticks are maturing and require more blood meals.
Maintenance: Keep grasses and bushes cut back in the yard and around the home. Try to avoid planting thick, dense bushes if you live in a southern state. Regular maintenance can help disrupt or prevent lone star ticks from nesting in your garden and create undesirable environments for them to lay eggs in.
Wildlife or farm animals: Stay away from farm animals, and even use preventive measures when approaching animals while hunting, as these animals are very likely to be infested with lone star ticks. If you own cattle or horses, you can purchase solutions to wash your animals down, which can help detract ticks from latching onto fur.
Preventative treatments: Medicate pets frequently against ticks and check their bodies if they happen to go into long grasses, especially if they have been in grassy or woodland areas. The same can be applied to adults and children; many sprays and deterrents are available for use during camping and hiking or in instances when you can’t avoid long grass and bushes.
Professional pest control is not usually required in this case, but many companies may be qualified to handle them if you feel the numbers are out of control or there is a direct threat to family members or children.
Lone Star Tick Entomology
Lone star ticks belong to the animalia kingdom under the arthropoda class. They are classed as arachnids due to them having eight legs but are also a subclass of acari which is also common to many other ticks, insects and spiders. They have their own family, the Ixodidae and genus, the amblyomma. The lone star tick may also be known as an A. americanum tick which is indicative of their established populations in America.