vanessa farnsworth's blog

Know your ticks: Winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus)

The winter or moose tick (Dermacentor albipictus) is a large reddish-brown to grey-brown tick that's similar in appearance to other dermacentor tick species (American dog ticks, Rocky Mountain wood ticks) found in Canada and inhabits an extensive geographic area that includes every Canadian province and territory. The farthest north they've been found is southern Yukon.

Know your ticks: Coastal bird tick (Ixodes auritulus)

First described in 1899, the coastal bird tick is native to BC. However, it's not terribly well studied and little is known about its life history. Early researchers describe it as being fairly common in coastal areas of the province where it mainly feeds on grouse.

What we know about this tick species is largely based on records from more than 50 years ago and scant research in recent years which show that specimens have been collected from at least 10 bird species in BC including sooty grouse and California quail.

Know your ticks: Blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis)

Although not the most ubiquitous tick species in this country, the blacklegged tick is easily the best known of all Canada's ticks thanks to its role as the primary vector of Lyme disease in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains.

Blacklegged ticks are three-host generalist feeders, meaning that over the course of their journey from egg to larvae to nymph to adult, these ticks must dine on three host vertebrates in order to acquire the blood they need to fuel their transition from one stage to the next.

Know your ticks: Groundhog tick (Ixodes cookei)

Groundhog ticks are widespread throughout much of southern Ontario and Quebec as well as in other southerly locations in eastern Canada where they make their homes in the dens of their hosts as far west as Manitoba. They look remarkably like blacklegged ticks in terms of size and other physical characteristics, so much so that the average person has difficulty telling them apart. One hint that you may be looking at a groundhog tick and not a blacklegged tick is that peak activity for adult groundhog ticks is in mid-summer while adult blacklegged ticks are most active in spring and fall.

Know your ticks: American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

Today I'm going to introduce you to a domestic tick that you've probably already encountered even if you didn't know its identity.

American dog ticks are large, reddish-to-greyish brown ticks that are fairly easy to spot. As their common name suggests, dogs are an important host for adult American dog ticks although this tick species is neither restricted to the US nor does it rely solely on dogs for the blood it needs to propel its lifecycle.