It might surprise you to know that Oregon has more than 20 tick species. Ticks can be found in every state and on every continent, even Antarctica. These tiny parasites rely on blood for survival. Ticks can bring thousands of eggs to the world from their clutches. They are known as larvae at birth and molt into Nymphs after one blood meal. After feeding again, Nymphs molt back into adult tick form.
Oregon’s adult ticks can bite humans. Nymph-aged and larval ticks can also be bit. Young ticks are much smaller than a pin’s head, so it is possible to not notice if you have been bitten. This is problematic, especially since Lyme disease has been reported in one tick species in Oregon. We’ll be discussing the most common tick species in Oregon and how you can avoid becoming one of them.
Oregon Common Ticks
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
Rocky Mountain wood ticks look almost exactly like American dog ticks. Their bodies are slightly darker than their legs, and they have reddish-brown skin. Their bodies are pear-shaped and have small mouthparts. Tan mottling appears on males’ abdomens while it is absent on females.
Rocky Mountain wood ticks are most common in Oregon on trails, grasslands and shrublands. They are active at higher elevations than 4,000 feet, and most commonly occur in spring and autumn. These ticks are the main vectors of the Colorado tick fever virus. They can also spread Rocky Mountainspotted fever.
American Dog Tick
The largest tick species in Oregon is the American dog tick. They are similar to Rocky Mountain wood ticks and have red-brown bodies with red-brown legs. Females have a tan scuta, while males have brown and mottled stomachs.
American dog ticks are also known as wood ticks. They prefer open fields. They prefer dogs as their prey, but will also eat coyotes and horses. These ticks are the main vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. They can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans and dogs.
It is highly unlikely that winter ticks in Oregon will bite humans. Adults can reach 3/4 inch in length when full of blood and have small mouthparts. Males have tan scutas and dark brown bodies while females have tan patterned abdomens.
Winter ticks love large mammals like elk and deer. Winter tick infestations can cause anemia in animals that are already sick. Winter ticks, unlike other species, are active only in fall and winter. They are not believed to transmit Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever.
Pacific Coast Tick
The Pacific Coast ticks of Oregon often bite people, dogs, and cats. Their bodies are narrow and ovoid with small mouthparts. Their abdomens and legs are both red-brown. Males have brownish or cream colored abdomens while females have a tan on the scuta.
These ticks can be found in low shrublands or along trails. They feed on almost everything including deer, badgers and birds. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick-bite paralysis can be transmitted to horses, cattle, and deer by Pacific Coast ticks.
Tick with black legs
Oregon’s only black-legged tick is also called the deer tick. Adults can easily identify this tick. The black-legged ticks are oval-shaped and have large mouthparts. They are smaller than American dog ticks. Black legs are common in males, and they have dark brown bodies with a black scuta. Black legs and black scuta are the hallmarks of females with mahogany brown bodies and mahogany-brown bodies.
Only one tick is capable of transmitting Lyme Disease in Oregon, and that’s the black-legged tick. The pathogen responsible Lyme disease is carried by black-legged ticks, which feed on mice during their nymphal and larval stages. Through their bites, the ticks transmit this serious bacterial infection to humans and dogs. The most common places to find black-legged ticks is in wooded areas and near the edges between grasslands and forests.