Types of Ticks in Vermont

Fifteen different species of tick have been identified in Vermont. Get the full list of tick species. Of these 15 species, six are known to bite humans and 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.

Tick Pathogen Surveillance

Ticks are collected in the spring and fall in locations around the state, then identified by species, life stage, and sex. Blacklegged ticks are then tested for four tickborne pathogens that cause human illness in Vermont. The information is compiled into annual reports.

Blacklegged Tick

Name: Blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis)

Distribution: throughout Vermont

Habitat: wooded areas and fields with tall grass and brush

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

Transmits: the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus disease, and Borrelia miyamotoi disease

Active: In Vermont, blacklegged tick peak activity typically occurs in May and June when nymphal ticks are looking for a host. Tick activity increases again in October and November when adult female ticks are looking for another host before winter. Although blacklegged tick activity typically follows this pattern, these ticks may be encountered any time of year when temperatures are above freezing.

How common are disease-carrying blacklegged ticks in Vermont?

In 2018, the Vermont Department of Health initiated a project in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to understand the prevalence and geographic distribution of disease-carrying blacklegged ticks. Over 1,500 ticks were collected from 48 sites around the state in 2020; human-feeding nymphs and adult female ("host seeking") ticks were tested for four pathogens.

PAthogen Percentage of ticks that tested positive
Borrelia burgdorferi 59%
Anaplasma phagocytophilum 11%
Babesia microti 6%
Borrelia miyamotoi 1%

Blacklegged ticks can carry more than one pathogen at the same time. The most common combinations were the pathogens that cause Lyme disease and anaplasmosis (8%) and the pathogens that cause Lyme disease and babesiosis (5%).

American Dog Tick

Name: American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

Distribution: throughout Vermont

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

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

Transmits: the bacteria that causes tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (human cases in Vermont are extremely rare)

Active: April through September

Brown Dog Tick

Name: Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)

Distribution: throughout Vermont

Habitat: wherever humans and dogs live including indoors, unlike other tick species

Hosts: mostly dogs

Transmits: the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the Southwestern United States (no evidence of transmission in Vermont)

Active: throughout the year

Lone Star Tick

Name: Lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum)

Distribution: this tick is not considered established, or able to complete its entire life cycle, in Vermont

The Health Department works with other state agencies to search for the lone star tick in Vermont and support people with information to protect themselves.

Habitat: woodlands with plenty of undergrowth and areas with tall, shaded grass

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

Transmits: the pathogens that cause ehrlichiosis and tularemia (human cases in Vermont are extremely rare). Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS).

Active: April through September. While most ticks wait in grass or brush to grab on to people or animals who pass by (questing), lone star ticks also actively track down a host by following the trail of air the host breathes out.

Squirrel Tick

Name: Squirrel tick (Ixodes marxi)

Distribution: throughout Vermont

Habitat: the nests of their hosts

Hosts: mostly squirrels, but also other medium-sized mammals; rarely bite humans

Transmits: Powassan virus (extremely rare in Vermont)

Active: generally, in warmer months

Woodchuck Tick

Name: Woodchuck tick (Ixodes cookei)

Distribution: throughout Vermont

Habitat: the burrow of their host animal; rarely on vegetation

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

Transmits: Powassan virus (extremely rare in Vermont)

Active: generally, in the summer months

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