Here’s a short rap on ticks:
Generally in RI we have three types of ticks; the Lone Star, Dog and Deer. Each can be a vector for disease. Lone Star & Dog sometimes carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. About 30% of adult and nymph Deer ticks carry Lyme Disease.
Ticks generally have a three stage life cycle based on three blood meals. Born as Larval with 6 legs they need a blood meal to molt into Nymphs, then another blood meal to become Adults. Ticks are drawn to carbon dioxide and use it as target to find mammals. Often you will find a concentration of ticks along the side of the roads due to the exhaust fumes from cars (carbon dioxide among them).
Dog & Lone Star ticks are often found in grassy areas and on bushes. They use them to gain access to passing mammals. Deer ticks are more often found in leaf litter and moister areas. However, as you can see from the identification photo, it is hard to tell the difference between the species when they are in the Nymph or Larval stages.
Note: Ticks are out solidly for three pluss seasons of the year. Just because you haven’t noticed them doesn’t mean they’re not around. If its above 38 degress, they are out and about.
Some thoughts on Lyme:
First, if it has six legs it is very likely it doesn’t have Lyme. The tick is NOT born with Lyme, it gets it from a blood meal of an infected mammal such as a field mouse or vole. As far as I know, its a misconception that it is the deer that host the disease.
Second, the tick needs to be feeding on you for 12 to 24 hours to pass the disease. So a through check of your body after riding is fine. Its also not a bad idea to scan your legs when you pause at a trail head. Just get in the habit of looking.
Third, if bitten DON’T panic. An infected deer tick bite gives most people get a VERY obvious rash in about 10 to 14 days. The bite will become a red mound with a separate circle of red (a clear “target” like mark). So if I pull off a tick that I missed that was on me overnight I make a note to watch the bit area for the rash.
Forth, see your doctor immediately if you get the rash. Tell them you have this tick bite and they will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics. Getting started on the antibiotics ASAP is very important. Untreated Lyme can actually be life altering. Personally I’ve gotten the rash twice in the last ten years and done the course of antibiotics and as far as I know have managed to not get more effects than the rash.
for more info from the URI Tick Center go to
I’m not a doctor but have encountered a lot of ticks in my years living in New England. Twenty years ago I worked on making a Tick Identification Card because (prior to the web) there was little or no information available. The attached photo was part of that project.