23 October 2006

The thing that was crawling up my leg

tick

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."

3 comments:

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.

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

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!