23 October 2006

The thing that was crawling up my leg


Yesterday, I did some more exploring and collecting in Belt Woods. A few minutes after I entered the forest, I found this tick on my pants. It was crawling up my leg slowly and deliberately, the way ticks always do, looking for a passage thru my clothing to my skin.

This is a female deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). Although their name suggests that they may be specialized to feed on deer, according to this source, the larvae of this tick feed on a wide variety of mammals and birds, primarily on white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus).

Thomas Say described this species in 1821 (full text). He didn't give a type location, but stated that the species was "rather common in forests, and frequently found attached to different animals."


budak said...

quick! smack it before it bites!!

Snail said...

It must be tick season in both hemispheres! David Nelson also had a close encounter in New South Wales. Both of you have taken great photos.


You can't really smack a tick. They are already flat to begin with. In fact, I don't even kill the ones I find in the woods; I just drop them off a safe distance away from where I may happen to be working. Only when they show up in the house, as they occasionally do, do I kill them, because I don't want to release them in my backyard where there are enough of them already!