Tick Testing/ Tick ID

Tick Testing 

UMaine Extension Tick Lab
UMaine Cooperative Extension Tick Lab can now test ticks from Maine residents for $15 per submission and test the tick for Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis and Babesia (photos courtesy of UMaine Ext Tick Lab)


Ticknology offers national tick testing services for all ticks. They can test ticks for 11 diseases and give results in 3-5 business days for $25 or results in 48-72 hours for $45.  

UMass Amherst will test your tick for a standard package fee of $50, and you will have the results in three business days.  They will send your results by email with tick species, any pathogens it was carrying, and assessment of tick feeding status.

Tick Removal

Improper removal of ticks greatly increases the risk of acquiring tick-borne infections. Squeezing the tick or putting substances on the tick to try to make it "back out" may aggravate it enough that it injects into you whatever disease organisms are inside it.

      Do not  burn or use any substance on tick

      Do not grasp, squeeze, or twist body of tick

      Grasp tick close to the skin with tweezers

      Pull tick straight out 

      Use antiseptic on skin

      Disinfect tweezers, tick spoon, or tick key

      Wash hands thoroughly

      Always see a physician for possible diagnosis, testing, and treatment
      If desired, can save tick for testing, preferably alive, in a zippered plastic bag or a closed container with a moist cotton ball. 


Tick Species of Maine

There are fifteen different tick species that have been found in Maine, though not all are permanent residents. Some may arrive in the state on host organisms and do not establish viable populations. Other species have thrived in Maine and are now widespread throughout much of the state. Certain tick species can be very difficult to differentiate from one another. For a full listing of these species and photographs please click here: https://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/tickid/maine-tick-species/

Deer Tick or Black-legged Tick

Scientific Name: Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes dammini (In 1993, I. scapularis and I. dammini were found to be the same species. Ixodes scapularis is now the accepted scientific name)

Common Name: Deer tick or Black-legged tick

Description: Adult females are typically less than 1/8 inch in length and males are slightly smaller. Adult females are brown to reddish-orange in color with a dark brown to black dorsal shield or scutum on the back, directly behind their head. After feeding, adult females can increase in size to as much as ½ inch in length and can range from a tan color to gray or dark brown. Adult males tend to be dark brown in color with no reddish coloration on the body. Adults have dark brown or black legs, thus the common name “black-legged” tick. Deer tick nymphs are very small, about the size of a poppy seed, and can be difficult to see. The six-legged deer tick larvae are even smaller, typically less than 1 mm.

Habitat/Range: Deer ticks are widely distributed in the eastern United States from Maine to Florida and westward around the Great Lakes. In Maine, they are most common in southern and coastal areas, but populations are advancing inland and have been found in northern Aroostook County. Deer ticks are commonly encountered in mixed forests and along the woodland edges of fields and suburban landscapes.

Life Cycle/Hosts: The deer tick is a three-host tick, meaning it utilizes a different host at each of its three active life stages (larva, nymph, and adult). It undergoes a two-year life cycle, beginning during the spring when an adult female lays several thousand eggs in the leaf litter. In early summer, tiny six-legged larvae emerge from the eggs and begin feeding on their first host, usually a small mammal. Many of these hosts, particularly mice and chipmunks, are infected with the agent that causes Lyme disease and transmit it to the larval ticks. Following a molt from the larval stage, nymphs generally feed on small to mid-size animals while the subsequent adults prefer deer. All stages will feed on humans and domestic animals. Adult deer ticks are found from early spring to late fall with two peaks, one in April or May and another in late October. Nymph numbers peak in June and early July.

Medical/Veterinary Importance: In Maine, deer ticks are vectors of several serious tick-borne diseases including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus. It is extremely important to check for and remove ticks from humans and pets as quickly as possible.

Adult Female (left), Nymph (right) 
Photograph by Griffin Dill

American Dog Tick

Scientific Name: Dermacentor variabilis

Common Name: American dog tick

Description: The adult female American dog tick is approximately ¼ inch long when unfed and up to ½ inch or longer when fully engorged. Males tend to be slightly smaller. Adult females are typically a reddish-brown color with a creamy-white dorsal shield or scutum on the back, directly behind their head. Adult males are also a reddish-brown color, but with cream or gray colored markings covering their entire back.

Habitat/Range: The American dog tick is widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains and can also be found in certain areas along the Pacific Coast. It is relatively common in Maine and can be found throughout much of the state, particularly in southwestern Maine. Compared to other tick species, the American dog tick is quite resistant to drying out, thus it may be found in drier habitats including open fields and lawns in addition to forested areas.

Life Cycle/Hosts: The American dog tick is a three-host tick, meaning they utilize a different host at each of their three active life stages (larva, nymph, and adult). Completion of the life cycle can vary based on host availability and environmental factors and may take up to two years. A blood meal is required for development from one life stage to the next and for egg production in adult females. Larvae typically feed on small mammals and have shown a preference for white-footed mice and meadow voles. Nymphs tend to prefer medium sized animals such as raccoons and opossum, while adults prefer larger hosts including dogs, deer, and humans. Adults are generally active from April to August with peak activity in May and June. They are no longer active in October and November when adult deer ticks are at peak activity.

Medical/Veterinary Importance: American dog ticks are the primary vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the eastern United States. As of yet, there have been no confirmed Maine-acquired cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. American dog ticks are also known to transmit the causative agents of tularemia and canine tick paralysis. Although American dog ticks can contain the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, they seem to be unable to transmit the bacteria to humans or other hosts.

Adult Male
Photograph by Griffin Dill

Lonestar Tick

Scientific Name: Amblyomma americanum

Common Name: Lone star tick

Description: Lone star ticks tend to have a more rounded body shape than other tick species. Adult females are approximately ¼ inch long and up to ½ inch or longer when fully engorged. Coloration ranges from reddish-brown to tan, with adult females being distinguished by a single white spot on the back. The color of this spot can vary from white to cream or bronze/gold and may take on an iridescent look at close range. Adult males typically have light colored patterns along the outer margins of the body.

Habitat/Range: Lone star ticks are most abundant in the southeastern United States, though their range does extend to northern portions of the country, including southern and coastal Maine. They are often found in dry forested sites with shrub undergrowth and along rivers and streams near animal resting places. In Maine, lone star ticks are relatively rare in comparison to the state’s other tick species, but they are being found more frequently than in the past.

Life Cycle/Hosts: Lone star ticks are considered three-host ticks because they utilize a different host at each active life stage (larva, nymph, and adult) in order to complete their life cycle. The most common host for all three stages of lone star tick is the white-tailed deer, though they also feed on a wide variety of other hosts including humans.

Medical/Veterinary Importance: Lone star ticks can be vectors of several serious tick-borne diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, tick paralysis, STARI (southern tick-associated rash illness), and ehrlichiosis which affects both humans and dogs. New research also indicates that some people may develop allergic reactions to red meat following the bite of a lone star tick.

Adult Female
Photograph by Griffin Dill

"Results suggest that significant climate warming may reduce risk of anaplasmosis and the Powassan virus, but increase Lyme disease risk."

Press release from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Feb. 18, 2015
- See more at: http://lymedisease.org/news/lyme_disease_views/ticks-emerge-early.html#sthash.oD3u8gNy.dpuf

"Results suggest that significant climate warming may reduce risk of anaplasmosis and the Powassan virus, but increase Lyme disease risk."

Press release from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Feb. 18, 2015
- See more at: http://lymedisease.org/news/lyme_disease_views/ticks-emerge-early.html#sthash.oD3u8gNy.dpuf