Ticks in Arizona, Animals

Ticks in Arizona

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About 25 of the nearly 800 species of ticks worldwide reside in Arizona, and a handful of those are spreading diseases in the Grand Canyon state. The incidence of tick-borne illnesses has increased for a variety of reasons: people relocating and bringing unseen critters with them; climate changes that allow ticks to survive in new places; and a growing population of stray and feral cats and dogs. As of 2013, there are three ticks Arizonans need to look out for.

Tick Types

There are two families of ticks in the order Parasitiformes: Ixodidae, hard ticks or ixodids, and Argasidae, soft ticks or argasids. Soft ticks have oval bodies sporting two round discs. Their mouth parts are not visible and they feed on blood in a matter of hours. Hard ticks, unlike soft, have a shield on their backs called a scutum. Bottom edges of the scutum have festoons, or indentations. Mouths of hard ticks are visible in the head area, called the capitulum. Hard ticks feed on a host over a matter of days. Both types of ticks have hypostomes, harpoon-like structures to break the host’s skin and to anchor the tick while feeding.

Brown Dog Tick

The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), an ixodid, is found in Arizona and throughout the United States. While this tick usually parasitizes dogs, humans are becoming blood meals, too. Unlike other ticks, the brown dog tick can complete a life-cycle indoors. Consequently, these ticks can travel on hosts to a variety of places, even cold climates. The reddish-brown color of the tick is a key to identification. Dogs get two types of diseases from this tick: canine ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia canis) and canine babesia (Babesia canis). Humans contract Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

The Dermacentor andersoni, or Rocky Mountain wood tick, is an ixodid found in the arid brushy areas of northern Arizona. They are temperature sensitive, preferring lower elevations at higher temperatures (1,600 to 2,200 meters) and higher elevations at lower temperatures (2,350 to 2,500 meters). Dermacentor andersoni is also reddish-brown in color. These ticks differ from the reddish-brown dog tick in that female Rocky Mountain wood ticks have gray on the upper part on the scutum and males are streaked with gray. These ticks also transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans.

Western Black-Legged Tick

Ixodes Pacificus, the western black-legged tick, is endemic along the West Coast of the United States. However, these ixodids have been found in Arizona in the Hualapai Mountain Park, Mohave County. White-tailed deer are an important host for these ticks. Male bodies are long and slender; females are rounder. The reddish-brown markings on the scutum are offset by black; on the female, the upper part of the shield is black. Males have black mottling. These ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans.


Can a tick be white.

I think my dog may have a tick but all the others I’ve found on her have been greenish brown and bean-looking. This one was completely white with a little red on the very tip. I tried removing it with tweezers but it wouldn’t come out and instead her skin bled and the weird white thing turned all red. It looks a little bloody now.

Could this be a tick or something else? Can ticks even be white like that? I can’t find any similar photos online!

16 Answers

Some ticks can be a grayish color when engorged Here are some pictures of the common ticks in the US. http://www.ispub.com/ostia/index.php?xmlFilePath=j.

It could very well have been a skin tag as well, sometimes it can be difficult to tell. Take a look at it tomorrow and see what it looks like then.

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Can a tick be white.

I think my dog may have a tick but all the others I’ve found on her have been greenish brown and bean-looking. This one was completely white with a little red on the very tip. I tried removing it with tweezers but it wouldn’t come out and instead her skin bled and the weird white thing.

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I have never seen a white tick but that is not to say there isn’t! Try putting some olive oil on it and see if it will back out. As far if your dog is bleeding you can clean it with a little peroxide. If you still can’t get it out it may be some thing that may need to be checked out. Good Luck To Ya.

There are skin colored ticks. I have seen two and they both were on me. My wife thought they were skin tags but skin tags don’t itch. After she pulled them off we could see they were ticks. I guess you would call them light brown or tan color instead of white..

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  • Just regular dog ticks can appear white or light gray. This may not be a tick. It might be a wart. You should probably put some antibiotic ointment on where the skin was torn and take her to the vet.

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    Here is the best method of removing a Tick from yourself or your dog. Rub Tick and surrounding area with Vick’s Vapor Rub. wait about a minute and you can pick it up with a pair of tweezers or your fingers. The Vicks also stop the itching. If you have chiggers in your area here is how I alleviate the itching. I rub the spot with Vicks Vapor Rub then I take a stiff bristle hair brush and I hit the spot a few times. It seems to kill the chigger and stops the itching. Yes it is a little painful but I can stand the pain for a few hits better than the constant itching.

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    Humm, that’s strange, I guess anything can be albino, but this may be a different species. Just make sure it’s a bug, with legs and all that and not part of your dog.

    I would get a piece of metal hot and burn it’s butt. No tick can resist that and it’s much better to do that because when you pull them out their heads often dislodge and stay in the dog. When you burn their butt they pull out pretty quickly and bring their whole head with them. Get a hold on that tick with hemostats or a pair of needle nose plyers and put it in a jar, and take it to a vet to see what the heck it could be. I’d love to see that little blood sucker. and DO NOT LET IT GET ON YOU! and take no chances in letting it go, we have no idea what the heck it could be.

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    Leave the area alone for tonight. Drop by the vet tomorrow. It is possible you tried to remove a skin tag. I’ve seen ticks that look darn close to white, but they wouldn’t be the exact same color as the dog’s skin.

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    Your vet will know exactly what it is and how it should be treated. Most ticks are dark brown, brownish black or black. Stop trying to remove things from your animal that you don’t know what they are. It may not even be a bug or parasite so stop picking at your dog and take her to the vet and have her looked at.

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    I have gotten white ticks off my dogs, they are tiny, but white for sure.


    Lone Star Ticks

    Facts, Identification & Control

    Latin Name


    Lone star ticks are one of the more easily recognized ticks since the female adult has an easily noticed white dot on the center of her back.

    Males of the species have white lines or streaks around the edges of the top of their body, but these markings are not as noticeable as the markings on the female.

    Often, lone star ticks are mistaken for blacklegged ticks, one of two tick vectors of Lyme disease. However, lone star ticks are not known to transmit Lyme disease.

    How Did I Get Lone Star Ticks?

    The lone star tick feeds on the blood of humans and mammals such as white-tailed deer, horses, cattle, dogs, skunks, squirrels, raccoons and migratory birds, so these animals often bring ticks into yards or perhaps into a person’s home if a tick infested dog or other pet comes inside. Also, raccoons, stray cats or opossums can cause tick problems in a home’s crawl space. Lone star ticks prefer shady spaces with thick vegetation and are sometimes brought inside on clothing worm while hiking or camping.

    How Serious Are Lone Star Ticks?

    Bites from lone star ticks are rather common. This is a concern because of the diseases they can spread, including tularemia and southern tick-associated rash illness, a rash producing disease that can be confused with Lyme disease but is not transmitted by lone star ticks. Outdoors, residents can help to prevent bites by covering exposed skin and using other tick preventive methods.

    How Do I Get Rid of Them?

    Your Orkin service technician treats for ticks on your property by using a comprehensive, integrated tick control plan. While the specific requirements of a tick control plan are situational and will vary, the following control actions and recommendations will be factored into your plan.

    • Inspection & Identification
    • Education
    • Habitat Modifications
    • Possible Use of Chemical Products
    • Follow up visits


    Found across the U.S., the lone star tick is primarily distributed throughout the eastern, southeastern, and midwestern portions of the country. Also, the tick is reportedly found in other areas and is known to be expanding its range both northward and westward. Amblyomma americanum frequently is located in second-growth woodland habitats, especially where the white-tail deer populations are plentiful.

    Diet: What do they eat?

    Lone star ticks are three-host ticks, meaning they take a blood meal from different hosts when in their larval, nymphal and adult stages. After feeding once in each stage, the tick falls to the ground and molts or a fertile adult female lays eggs.

    Hosts commonly infested by lone star ticks are humans, domesticated animals such as cattle, dogs and horses, ground-dwelling birds, squirrels, opossums and raccoons, plus white-tailed deer and coyotes.

    Life Cycle & Reproduction

    The life cycle for a lone star tick begins after a female tick consumes a blood meal and drops off its host. After a few days, the female lays over 5,000 eggs in a protected area with high humidity, like under leaf litter. Such a habitat best enables the eggs to survive. Eggs will hatch into six-legged larvae and soon begin searching for a host. Lone star tick larvae exhibit a behavior known as questing and climb on an object or plant and wait for a host to pass by. After securing a host, the larva attaches; blood-feeds for about 1-3 days; drops off the host and soon molts into an eight-legged nymph. The nymphs repeat the questing procedure used by the larvae, except after dropping from their host, nymphs molt into adult ticks.

    When are they active?

    Primarily active in May and June, the lone star tick can become active on warm days during the winter and early spring.

    Disease Transmission & Bites

    Lone star ticks are able to transmit several tick-borne diseases; however, they do not transmit Lyme disease even though people bitten by lone star ticks sometimes develop a rash that is similar to the Lyme disease rash. This rash, if also involving fatigue, headache, fever, muscle and joint pains is a condition called southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Some other diseases associated with lone star ticks are ehrlichiosis, tularemia and a virus suspected to be transmitted by lone star ticks. This virus, called Heartland virus, was identified in 2012 and as of March 2014, eight cases have been identified among residents of Missouri and Tennessee. Individuals infected with the Heartland virus often experience symptoms like fatigue, fever, headache, muscle ache, diarrhea, appetite loss, and upset stomach.

    Another condition thought to be associated with blood-feeding lone star ticks is a severe red meat allergy. Common allergic reactions include hives and swelling. Individuals prone to severe allergic reactions can experience symptoms of anaphylaxis such as vomiting, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. Cases of the condition have been found in southern states like Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Instances have also spread up the Eastern seaboard in states with deer populations. Persons with the allergy can go into a delayed anaphylactic shock 4-6 hours after eating red meat.


    NC Medical Board

    Effective March 17, 2020, NCMB is operating but its Raleigh offices are closed to visitors.

    NCMB has closed its offices to visitors.

    To protect against the spread of COVID-19, NCMB has closed its offices at 1203 Front Street in Raleigh to all visitors. NCMB will continue to accept deliveries in the vestibule at the front entrance and through the mail slots.

    NOTE: Most NCMB staff are telecommuting. This has disrupted normal business processes, and delays are expected. Please be patient with us during these unprecedented times.

    Resources & Information



    Ticks in North Carolina: Increasing disease and confusion

    In 2007 North Carolina reported almost 800 cases of tickborne diseases (TBDs) and close to 1,000 the year before (see Table 1). This indicates that many thousands of citizens may get sick each year from ticks since studies have found that only a minority of reportable cases are usually reported.1 There are also several non-reportable TBDs. On average, a few fatalities also occur.

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    Four species of NC ticks bite humans and all may carry one or more human pathogens. New «emerging infections» are also being identified. The most common tick is the lone star. Thirty years ago when this aggressive tick appeared in NC many people assumed they were the «deer» ticks that carry the Lyme disease spirochete since the larvae and nymphs are so small. Black-legged ticks, the Lyme disease vector, are also established in a number of counties in NC.2 Ticks, most active from February through October, may also be active during warm spells in the winter, so TBDs need to be considered all year if symptoms are suggestive. The distribution and prevalence of human-biting ticks and TBDs in North Carolina are not well characterized although work is beginning on this for the black-legged tick.2

    Ticks have three blood feeding stages: larval, nymph, and adult. They feed and molt between each stage over one to three years. Usually, the only larval ticks (commonly called «seed ticks») that bite humans are lone stars. In North Carolina, nymphs of lone stars (sesame seed size) frequently attack people. Bites by black-legged nymphs (poppy seed size) are much less common. Nymphal bites are highly associated with disease since their small size makes them harder to detect. Infections are transmitted by nymphal and adult ticks. The female lone star, known by the white spot on its back, is the only tick easily identified by the non-professional. Tick populations are growing in our state along with suburbanization and the deer population. Deer serve as hosts to the lone star and black-legged ticks.

    Most tick infections may initially cause similar symptoms — often flu-like with fever, aches, and pains. Most tick-borne infections in North Carolina are not associated with a rash, especially early in the infection. Some rashes, when they occur, may be pathognomonic. Serologic tests are usually negative in the acute phase and sensitivity and specificity are far from ideal.3,4 Co-infections may also occur. A history of tick bite is not necessary for diagnosis.

    Lyme disease is emerging in North Carolina. Studies have identified cases, the vector tick Ixodes scapularis, and the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete related to Treponema pallidum, the spirochete which causes syphilis. The so-called «bulls-eye» rash, erythema migrans (EM), associated with Lyme disease and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) is a misnomer because many EM rashes may be solid red.5 EM starts at the site of the tick bite, is usually oval, and expands to greater than two inches. (Most patients have a normal small red, itchy, local reaction to tick bites, especially the lone star.) People presenting with an EM rash should be treated for Lyme disease/STARI immediately. Only 60% to 80% of people with Lyme disease (the percentage is unknown for STARI) will get or find an EM rash so recognition of an infection may be difficult. Lyme disease diagnosis, testing, chronicity, and treatment is complex and controversial.6

    STARI is associated with the lone star tick. The causative organism is not known in spite of on-going research by the CDC and others.5,7 There are no diagnostic tests for STARI and, at this time, it is not a reportable disease. The lone star tick, widely distributed in the coastal plain and piedmont of North Carolina, is aggressive and all life stages readily bite humans. This suggests that there may be a high potential for transmission of the causal agent of STARI.

    Of all the TBDs found in NC, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is associated with the highest rate of mortality. The overall case fatality rate is 5%-10% and may approach 20% in those untreated.4 In the last 25 years, NC has had an average of 3.5 deaths per year from RMSF. Deaths are usually due to delayed recognition and treatment. Ehrlichiosis may be quite prevalent in the Piedmont. Studies have suggested that reports underestimate the true burden of disease.4 Less than 2-3% of untreated Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis may be fatal.4

    Prevention and removal
    Prevention and control methods may be found at www.cdc.gov/Features/StopTicks/. Complete protection is not possible. Environmental tick control methods are not practical or affordable for everyone and no personal prevention method offers infallible protection.8

    Physicians should teach patients to save biting ticks because if an illness follows, identification can help sort out which infection(s) may be causing illness. The easiest method is to scotch tape the tick to an index card recording the date and place on the body. Most studies show that ticks need to feed for several hours or even days before infective agents can be transmitted, though the amount of time is controversial and varies with the tick and the pathogen.

    North Carolina Public Health Pest Management has initiated tick education, awareness, collection and testing programs thanks to recent funding from the General Assembly, although this funding may be in jeopardy due to economic conditions. Work is also underway to ascertain which counties may become endemic for Lyme disease.2, 9 Ongoing research from the Entomology Department at NC State University and the NC School of Veterinary Medicine is contributing to knowledge about known and emerging TBIs. Prevention of tick-borne diseases requires a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach.


    Ticks Are Spreading More Rare Diseases In The US Than Ever Before

    Ticks are small but mighty when it comes to spreading disease — and the number of infections they can transmit to humans is growing.

    Posted on May 14, 2018, at 2:11 p.m. ET

    Ticks are spreading an increasing number of illnesses to humans at higher rates than in previous years.

    Despite their tiny size, ticks are surprisingly powerful vectors of disease. And in the US, the risk of tick-borne infections is increasing. According to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ticks infected people with seven new germs — including bacteria, parasites, and viruses — between 2004 and 2016.

    The CDC recently analyzed data trends for all nationally notifiable diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea. The number of cases has tripled since 2004, to 642,602, and those caused by ticks doubled. Of the tick-borne illnesses, 82% were cases of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that causes a rash and flu-like symptoms that can spread to the joints and nervous system if left untreated.

    Some researchers blame the increase in tick-borne illnesses on the longer summer months; others suspect the increase in cases could also be due to improved awareness and surveillance. Regardless, experts said the increase is alarming and requires a multi-pronged effort to focus on public and environmental health.

    Here are eight different germs you can get from ticks, including some of the new ones identified by the CDC in the last 14 years or so.


    Babesiosis is a rare disease caused by a microscopic parasite, Babesia microti, which infects red blood cells. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected black-legged (deer) tick, the same tick that spreads Lyme disease. Younger ticks (nymphs) typically spread the parasite, which means they are extremely tiny — about the size of a poppy seed — and difficult to spot with the naked eye.

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    Most cases occur in the Northeast (New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut) or Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin) during the spring and summer months. Between 2011 and 2014, there were an average of 1,135 cases reported each year.

    Most people who get babesiosis do not develop any symptoms, but some people with weaker immune systems — the elderly, very young, and immunocompromised individuals — may experience mild flu-like symptoms, according to the New York Department of Health. Asymptomatic patients do not require any treatment, but those with symptoms can be treated with a combination of antibiotics.


    Ehrilichiosis is a term for a group of bacterial diseases transmitted to humans from ticks — primarily the lone star tick. Most cases occur in June and July in the Midwest and South. The symptoms are similar to a flu — fever, muscle aches, nausea, chills, headache, fatigue — and they usually appear within one or two weeks after being bitten by an infected tick. People over the age of 50 are at higher risk for contracting the illness.

    The symptoms might be easily confused with other illnesses at first, but ehrlichiosis can be confirmed with lab tests. It’s typically treated with the antibiotic doxycycline. If treated early, it will go away in a few days, but chronic untreated ehrlichiosis can cause severe symptoms and lead to hospitalization or (rarely) death. The case fatality rate is between 0.9% and 3.7%.


    Anaplasmosis is similar to ehrlichiosis, but it is caused by a different type of bacteria and spread to humans by the black-legged (deer) tick and the western black-legged tick. The majority of cases occur during the summer months in the upper midwestern and northeastern states. The average number of cases each year has steadily increased since it was discovered in 1999 — from 348 cases in 2000 to 1,761 cases in 2010. The case fatality rate ranges from 0.2%–3%.

    The symptoms are also similar to a flu-like illness and appear within one to two weeks after being bitten. Some people may have very few symptoms, and others may develop severe symptoms such as hemorrhaging, kidney failure, or breathing problems. Anaplasmosis is treated with doxycycline in children and adults.

    Powassan virus

    The Powassan (POW) virus is a rare virus spread to humans from the deer tick. There are only an average of 9 cases each year — but in 2016, there were 21 cases, double that in previous years. POW virus primarily occurs in the Northeast or Great Lakes region, particularly in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Many people who contract POW virus do not have any symptoms, but those who do may experience a fever, headache, vomiting, and also mental confusion, memory loss, or seizures.

    It can take up to a month for symptoms to appear after being bitten by an infected tick. If left untreated, the POW virus can spread to the central nervous system and lead to encephalitis or meningitis. Unfortunately, there is no medication or vaccine to treat or prevent POW virus. About half of those who survive the POW virus will have permanent neurological problems, and 10% of the encephalitis cases caused by POW are fatal, according to the CDC.

    Spotted fever rickettsiosis

    Spotted fever rickettsiosis is a term for a group of diseases caused by spotted fever group rickettsia, a type of bacteria. These are spread to humans by either mites or ticks — specifically, the Gulf Coast tick and Pacific Coast tick. Since 2010, there have been about 3,000 cases each year with a fatality rate less than 1%. These mostly occur during the summer months in the South and southeastern states.

    The first sign of a spotted fever is an eschar, or a dark brown scab on the tick bite, which can take up to a week to appear. Once the eschar forms, patients may experience flu-like symptoms. All spotted fevers are treated with doxycycline.

    These infections can range from mild to life-threatening if left untreated. The most serious of this group of tick-borne diseases is the Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), which causes fever, headache, and rash. In severe cases, RMSF can result in permanent damage to blood vessels in the limbs, hearing loss, paralysis, or mental disabilities.


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    Tularemia is an infection caused by the highly contagious Francisella tularensis bacterium, which can be spread to humans from the dog tick, wood tick, or lone star tick. Tularemia is also known as rabbit fever because it can infect and kill rabbits, hares, and rats. There are around 200 cases in people reported each year, primarily in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. It can also spread to humans from contact with infected animals or exposure to aerosolized bacteria, which can happen if someone accidentally runs a mower over an animal that died of the disease. The symptoms of tularemia depend on how the bacteria entered the body.

    If the tularemia is contracted from an infected tick bite or from handling an infected animal, patients can develop glandular tularemia, which causes swollen lymph nodes in the armpits or groin. Sometimes, this is accompanied by an ulcer at the location of the tick bite or site where the bacteria entered the body. That’s called ulceroglandular tularemia (pictured above). The infection can be treated with multiple antibiotics and most patients will make a full recovery.

    Heartland virus

    The Heartland virus is thought to be transmitted by the lone star tick, and it’s usually found in parts of the Midwest and Southern US. States where the tick is most common, including Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. It was first discovered in 2009 and there have been several cases each year — including two people who have died.

    The virus causes flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches, and also diarrhea. Patients may also have a low white blood cell count. There is no medicine or vaccine to treat or prevent the Heartland virus.

    Bourbon virus

    The Bourbon virus is part of a group called thogotoviruses, and it’s relatively new on the radar. There have only been a few cases so far, mostly in the South and Midwest, and some of these patients died. The virus is thought to spread through the bite of an infected tick, but the exact way it infects people is still unknown, according to the CDC.

    People who become infected with the Bourbon virus may develop flu-like symptoms as well as nausea and vomiting. They may also have low white blood cell and platelet counts.

    The best way to avoid tick-borne illnesses is to use insect repellents, wear long sleeves and pants, and perform tick checks after spending time outdoors in wooded or bushy areas.

    If you do find one attached to your body, here’s how to safely remove the tick.

    The sooner you remove ticks the better, because the longer a tick is attached, the more likely it is to transfer any germs it might be carrying.

    Caroline Kee is a health reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.


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