Information on Ticks in Vermont

Types of Ticks in Vermont

Thirteen different species of ticks have been identified in Vermont (click here for the full list). Of these 13 species, five are known to bite humans and four of those five can transmit diseases. However, over 99% of all tickborne diseases reported to the Vermont Department of Health are caused by only one tick: the blacklegged tick.

Blacklegged Tick

Image of a blacklegged tick

Name: Blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis)

Distribution: Blacklegged ticks can be found throughout Vermont.

Transmits: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus disease, and Borrelia miyamotoi disease.

Hosts: white-footed mouse, deer mouse, chipmunks, shrews, white-tailed deer.

Activity: in Vermont, blacklegged tick activity fluctuates throughout the year. After laying low during the cold winter months, these ticks usually become active in late March or early April. Their peak activity typically occurs in May and June when nymphal ticks are looking for a host. Tick activity increases once again in October and November when adult ticks are looking for another host before cold winter temperatures set in once again.

Although blacklegged tick activity typically follows this pattern, it is important to note that these ticks might be encountered at any time of year when the temperature is above freezing.

American Dog Tick

Image of a dog tick

Name: American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

Distribution: American dog ticks can be found throughout Vermont.

Habitat: found mostly in grassy fields and other areas with little tree cover

Hosts: feeds on small rodents and medium-sized wild mammals, domestic cats, dogs and humans

Transmits: in Vermont the American dog tick can transmit tularemia, but human cases are extremely rare. Both adults and nymphs can transmit tularemia, although nymphs rarely bite humans.

Active: from April through September

Lone Star Tick

Image of a lone star tick

Name: Lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum)

Distribution: Lone star ticks are found primarily in southern Vermont.

Habitat: woodlands with plenty of undergrowth

Hosts: feeds on squirrels, raccoons, deer, cattle, some bird species, cats, dogs and humans

Transmits: The Lone star tick is responsible for transmitting ehrlichiosis in Vermont. Both nymphs and adults can transmit disease. Larvae cannot transmit disease.

Active: April through September

Woodchuck Tick

Name: Woodchuck tick (Ixodes cookei)

Distribution: Woodchuck ticks can be found throughout Vermont.

Habitat: generally found in the burrow of its host animal, rarely found on vegetation

Hosts: woodchucks, foxes, skunks, weasels, porcupines, small mammals, some bird species, raccoons, cats, dogs and humans

Transmits: Powassan virus disease, although this disease is extremely rare in Vermont

Active: generally in the summer months

Brown Dog Tick

Name: Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)

Distribution: Brown dog ticks can be found throughout Vermont.

Transmits: The brown dog tick will bite humans, but there is no evidence that it transmits diseases in Vermont.

Hosts: mostly dogs

Habitat: Generally brown dog ticks can be found wherever humans and dogs live. Unlike other tick species, the brown dog tick is well-suited for living indoors.

Active: may be active throughout the year

Pathogen prevalence in blacklegged ticks

The Vermont Department of Health has collaborated with colleagues at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Lyndon State College to determine the prevalence of disease in Vermont's blacklegged tick population. Over 2,000 ticks were collected and tested between 2013 and 2016. 

PAthogen Percentage of ticks that tested positive
Anaplasma phagophytocilium 7.0%
Babesia microti 0.8%
Borrelia burgdorferi 52.9%

Over 60% of the ticks collected as part of this initiative tested positive for at least one disease. A small sample of these ticks was also tested for Powassan virus. Approximately 1% tested positive for Powassan virus.

Blacklegged ticks can carry more than one pathogen at the same time. Almost 5% of the ticks tested positive for two or more pathogens. The most commonly found combination (4.0%) found in ticks were the pathogens that cause anaplasmosis and Lyme disease.  

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