Tick Identification

Only specific ticks carry Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. So, it is useful to know what each tick looks like, what diseases they carry.

Ticks are not insects. Ticks are arachnids, as are chiggers, spiders and mites; they have eight legs as an adult and two body segments. Insects have six legs as an adult and three body segments.

Ticks found in Rhode Island

Deer Tick (or Black Legged Tick Ixodes Scapularis)

  • Description: Adult deer ticks are red-brown in color and about 3mm in size. Larvae and nymphs are considerably smaller and tend to be paler in color.
  • Habitat: Deciduous forest and habitat containing leaf litter.
  • Host animals: Humans, deer, dogs, small birds and rodents, etc.
  • Diseases Carried: Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis.

American Dog Tick (or Wood Tick Dermacentor Variabilis)

American Dog Tick

  • Description: About 1/8 inch in length with a dark brown body and an irregular white pattern on the part of the body behind the head.
  • Habitat: Found in grassy meadows and wooded areas, also near barns, kennels, and anywhere that animals are kept
  • Animal Hosts: Small rodents, opossums, raccoons, horses, deer, and cattle
  • Diseases Carried: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
  • In animals: Cytauxzoonosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Brown Dog Tick (or Red Dog Tick Rhipicephalus Sanguineus)

brown dog tick

  • Description: Small and reddish brown in color with an elongated body and no ornamentation.
  • Habitat: Often found in houses, kennels, dog runs, or anywhere that dogs live
  • Animal Hosts: Feeds primarily on dogs, but will feed on other mammals if no dogs are available.
  • Diseases Carried: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
  • In Animals: Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Haemobartonellosis, and Hepatozoonosis

Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma Americanum)


  • Description: Adults ⅓ inch long unengorged, ½ inch long engorged, colored from brown to tan, females have silvery white spot (“lone star”) on backs and males have scattered spots or streaks around perimeter of body.
  • Habitat: In wooded areas with brush, especially hickory-oak forests, along creeks and rivers.
  • Animal Hosts: Small birds and rodents (larvae and nymphs), cattle, deer, humans.
  • Diseases Carried: Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)