lone star tick up closeThe lone star tick, also known as the amblyomma americanum, is a tick species from the genus amblyomma. These ticks can be found in several different regions of the United States, in states ranging from Texas to as far east as Maine and several Midwestern states in between. Lone star ticks are rounded in shape. Female adult lone star ticks have a coloration pattern that combines red and brown and are easy to tell apart from other ticks, deriving their name from the distinct white marking on their backs. The marking can often vary in coloration, ranging from bronze, white and cream. When looking at the area more closely, the marking can appear to change colors.

If a female has recently fed on a human or an animal, then the spot will generally appear closer to the mouth. Males tend to be smaller than females, growing to an average size of about 1/10 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch. Their bodies are have a dark brown coloring, and can occasionally show red patches. Males whitish pattern may be visible along the outer margins of the lower body surface. The average size of female lone star ticks ranges from 1/6 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch. However, this is their unfed size, as they can swell to a half inch or even larger after a feeding.

About Lone Star Ticks

The typical life span of an adult lone star tick varies depending on certain weather conditions, such as humidity and temperature. In favorable conditions, an adult lone star tick can live for as long as two years. A minimum life span for an adult is considered to be about eight months.

Predators of the lone star tick include fire ants, arthropods, and certain kinds of fungi, wasps and guinea fowl. For the most part, lone star tick deaths are caused by changes in their environmental conditions. They thrive in warm, humid areas.

Other tick predators include wild turkeys, pheasants, birds, reptiles, rodents and spiders. While this is a seemingly long list of potential enemies, lone star ticks do not often succumb to predators, as there are several other menu options available to them.

Habitat and Feeding Habits

Lone star ticks are most often found in wooded areas with dense brush. The ticks prefer spots that have overgrown grass. Any area that protects them direct sunlight and direct exposure to dry and hot air is favored. Long star ticks infest themselves in areas with moderate soil temperatures.

They can attach to themselves to human or animal hosts and enter the home. Lone star ticks are also found in high numbers in clearings.

Lone star ticks are at their most active during the summer months, typically ranging from April to September.

Adults, larvae and nymphs will all feed on adult humans, dogs and cats. Due to their hyper aggressive and non-specific habits of feeding, lone star ticks are considered to be one of the most dangerous insects in the United States, from a standpoint of both health and economics.

Regions with a large population of wildlife such as deer, rabbits, skunks and possums are also in danger of attracting lone star ticks, as they will feed on almost any mammal they come across. Mice and other small rodents will also serve as hosts for lone star ticks. The Lone star tick's chosen habitat tends to remain close to the white tailed deer, as these animals are the lone star tick's preferred host.

Reproduction and Hibernation

Adults hibernate for long periods, as they begin to become active in January and February and peak during the months of March, April and May. Lone star nymphs have are primarily active during the months of April, May, and June for ticks that spend lengthy periods in hibernation. The months of July and August are preferred by current year offspring. Larvae tend to show peak activity during June, July and August, but this can change depending on climate conditions.

Upon hatching, nymphs will engorge themselves for another week before commencing detachment from their host. After, there is a resting period ranging from 2 to 5 weeks before reaching adulthood. At nymph stage, lone star ticks can survive up to 15 months without feeding.

Adult lone star ticks can also survive for over a year without feeding, they accomplish this by hibernating. However, they are not able to reproduce until they've had a blood feeding. To find a host, they can either strike aggressively, by chasing a potential host, or they will wait passively for the host to come to them.

As soon as they've identified a host, feeding and mating begins, followed by detachment from the host. Female lone star ticks partake in a rest period ranging from one to two weeks before the egg laying process begins. An adult female is capable of producing 8,300 eggs. The eggs are then left beneath leaves or soil during the latter part of spring. Depending on temperatures, the incubation period lasts anywhere from one to four months.

Lone star ticks do not begin to partake in any significant activities until they experience temperatures over 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If humidity is low and daytime temperatures remain high, this will greatly restrict their activity.

Controlling Lone Star Ticks

If you have begun to notice an uptick in the lone star tick population on your property, call Alliance Pest Services as soon as possible. If you wish to ensure your home is free of lone star ticks, Alliance Pest Services is your go to company for pest and tick removal.