Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are also known as blacklegged ticks. These ticks are often mistaken for brown dog ticks. Named for their propensity to feed on white-tailed deer, these ticks may also feed on other large mammals as hosts, including humans. Humans, considered accidental hosts of deer ticks, may contract Lyme disease from bites. Livestock and domestic animals can also be hosts. They are primarily found in the eastern half of the U.S.
Deer ticks begin life as eggs and develop through larval and nymphal stages before becoming adults. Females lay eggs in suitable areas close to vegetation. Larvae hatch and immediately begin searching for hosts, which tend to be small animals such as mice. It is during these early feeding stages that ticks contract diseases such as Lyme disease. These diseases are transmitted to hosts during the nymphal and adult feedings.
Deer ticks prefer to dwell in wet, bushy areas. They are found on leaves and plant life along paths frequented by their hosts. When hosts brush against these plants, deer ticks grab their fur or clothing.