Maine is a beautiful, geographically diverse state. From its gorgeous beaches and bays to its forests and mountains. Everyone is sure to find something to love about the Pinetree State. Except for its tick population.
Ticks are parasitic animals, feeding off a variety of hosts. Many ticks carry and can spread serious diseases. Read on to learn more about the tick population of Maine.
6 Species Of Ticks In Maine
Below you’ll find a list of 6 species of ticks in the state of Maine. Some are more harmful and pose a greater risk to humans than others.
1. Deer Tick (Black-legged tick)
Scientific name: Ixodes scapularis
Of all the ticks in Maine, the Deer tick is the most common. Deer ticks average 1/8 of an inch ( the size of a sesame seed). Naturally black, this tick will turn gray-blue in color.
The Deer tick follows the life stages of most ticks. The stages are larvae, nymph, and adult. It takes about 2 years for this species of tick to complete its life stages. Females lay about 3,000 eggs each spring.
Preferring the White-Tailed Deer as a host, they will also attach to any mammal. Carrying a variety of diseases, the Deer tick is most often associated with Lyme disease.
2. American Dog Tick
Scientific name: Dermacentor variabilis
Also known as the Wood tick. Dog ticks are the most prevalent of the hard-shelled ticks. These ticks are found in areas with no tree coverage, like the outer edges of forests, trails, and fields.
Preferred hosts of the Dog tick are humans, cats, dogs, and raccoons. Females lay about 4,000 eggs a year. These ticks usually live about 2 years.
Rocky Spotted Mountain Fever is a serious disease carried by this species of tick. This disease is characterized by severe flu-like symptoms and rash. It can be fatal.
3. Brown Dog Tick
Scientific name: Rhipicephalus sanguineus
This tick species is also called the Kennel tick due to it regularly being found in animal shelters and dog kennels. Reddish brown in color, the average size is about 1/4 inch.
Brown dog ticks are 3 host ticks, meaning they will feed on different hosts during each of the 3 stages of development.
Preferred hosts are dogs and smaller mammals as their hosts. These ticks do carry several diseases, including Rocky Spotted Mountain Fever.
4. Lonestar Tick
Scientific name: Amblyomma americanum
Living in wooded areas, the Lonestar tick preys upon deer, humans, and small mammals. This species is one of the smallest at 3/16 of an inch when not engorged. They are dark brown with patterns of red. If bitten by this tick, a human can develop an allergy to red meat!
5. Woodchuck Tick
Scientific name: Ixodes cookei
Similar in appearance to the Deer tick, the Woodchuck tick is reddish tan with a dark shield.
Hosts include the woodchuck, fox, skunk, and weasel. Forests and wooded areas are where they can be found. These ticks also carry Powassan disease.
6. Gulf Coast Tick
Scientific name: Amblyomma maculatum
The Gulf Coast tick is 1/4 inch before filling up on a host’s blood. Dark brown in color, they have a decorative shield.
In Maine, these ticks are found in the outer areas of forests and coastal uplands. As nymphs (young ticks), they will feed on small animals like birds and mice. As adults, the ticks will move on to deer, dogs, and cattle.
This tick can cause rickettsiosis (a bacterial infection) and tick paralysis.
How to Avoid Ticks in Maine
Now that you are aware of the most common ticks living in Maine, it’s vital to understand how to avoid getting bit. Here are some common tips to follow to avoid getting bitten by ticks:
- Wear long pants and tuck them into your socks.
- Wear bug spray with less than 30% DEET.
- Pre-treat clothing with a chemical repellant like permethrin
- Stay towards the center of the trails
- Avoid tick-infested areas (i.e., high grass, off-trail trekking, etc.)
In addition to following the common practices above, you should also check yourself and your animals for ticks anytime you go to a place that may have been infested by ticks. Make sure to check the following areas on your own body:
- Pubic area
- Back of knees
Additionally, you should check your animals’ armpits and behind their ears very carefully. Finally, you should shower within two hours of coming indoors as this will help wash away any unattached ticks.
What Should I Do If I’m Bitten by a Tick in Maine?
If you find that you have been bitten by a tick, you should follow the following steps to remove it as quickly as possible:
- Use tweezers to get as close to your skin as possible
- Pull upward. Do not twist or jerk.
- Once the tick is removed, clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Flush the tick down the toilet, or if you’d like to get it identified, pour rubbing alcohol on it and place it in a sealed bag.
It is essential to remove a tick as soon as it has been identified. This will help prevent the spread of any diseases. You will want to monitor yourself for up to 30 days for the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
If you experience any of the above symptoms, go see a doctor as soon as possible and make sure to mention the tick bite.
The Dangers Tick Pose in Maine
While tick bites can be uncomfortable and a little unnerving, the bite itself is not the main concern. Ticks are known vectors of several diseases that can be harmful to both humans and animals alike.
One of the most common diseases passed from tick to human is Lyme disease. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause joint pain and even negatively impact your central nervous system. Whether in Maine or any other state, it’s essential to be on the lookout for ticks and always see a doctor if experiencing symptoms after a tick bite.