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Female and nymphal ticks feed and can transmit diseases.

Male ticks do not feed and do not transmit diseases.

Removing a deer tick within 24 hours greatly reduces the likelihood of Lyme disease transmission.

Not all ticks are infected.  On average 20-40% of deer ticks are able to transmit diseases.  

As long as temperatures are above freezing, deer ticks are active the entire year. Peak activity months are May to June (Nymphs) and October/November and again in April (Adults).

Finding & Removing Ticks

Infected deer ticks must feed for at least 24 hours before they can begin to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium.  Therefore you should remove ticks as soon as possible.  Take a shower after outdoor activity and put clothes in the dryer (dry heat will kill ticks).  Check your body thoroughly, paying close attention to the armpits, the groin and neck.  Use the buddy system!  Look for ticks nightly, especially if you have young children.

Remove ticks with tweezers only (bent, "needle-nose" tweezers are best).  Apply steady backward force until the tick is dislodged.  Do NOT use alcohol, nail polish, hot matches, petroleum jelly or other methods to remove ticks.  These methods may actually traumatize ticks, causing them to regurgitate their gut contents, which may include the Lyme disease bacterium.

Save the live tick for indentification by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension office in the County.







Lyme disease is spread by the deer tick (now called the black legged tick).  Ticks feed on the blood of animals, and infected ticks prefers to feed on wild animals especially mice and deer, they will also feed on dogs, cats, livestock and humans.

Backlegged(Deer)Tick  Lone Star Tick American Dog Tick
The female deer tick has a tear drop shape with a reddish orange abdomen and solid black dorsal shield.  The male is smaller and a uniform black in color.  The nymph also has a tear drop shape, but is a dark brown to black in color. The female lone star tick is more roundish and has single, white spot in the center of it's body.  The male, also round, has a chestnut brown color with no distinguishing markings.  The nymph is a uniform light brown color and round in comparison to the deer tick. The female dog tick is oblong with white markings on the dorsal shield.  The abdomen is dark brown.  The male has white markings over the entire body.  The nymph is oblong and a solid dark brown in color.

The deer tick is found in the shrubbery understory of the forest, in high grassy areas, and in open fields.  ticks do not jump or fly - they crawl up vegetation and wait for an animal to brush against them.  They then climb upon the animal and insert their mouth parts.  They will feed on blood for 3 to 5 days.  Following a blood meal, the tick swells to more than four times its normal size and then drops to the ground.

When people visit or live near the woods and other deer tick habitats they run a high risk of contracting Lyme disease.  Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis are other diseases vectored by ticks.  For your own safety, become familiar with tick habits and habitats, and learn how to prevent tick bites.

Where you live, your hobbies, and your habits may influence your risk of a tick bite.  Notice in particular these high risk factors:

  • yard surrounded by dense woods

  • bird baths, bird feeders

  • outdoor pets that come indoors

  • woodpiles, brush piles, rock walls

  • swingsets; treehouses in the woods

  • outdoor occupations; landscapers, utility line workers, farmers, etc.

  • outdoor recreation:  freshwater fishing, camping, hiking, hunting, etc.

  • viewing deer in the yard.






Last modified: Saturday, December 13, 2003
 05:27 AM



Nymphal deer ticks and nymphal lone star ticks are most active from May through early July when most cases of Lyme disease are contracted.


  • Headache

  • flulike symptoms

  • "bull's-eye" rash (>2" in diameter)

  • swelling and pain in the joints

  • fatigue 


Outdoor pursuits need not be discontinued as long as precautions are taken to prevent a tick bite:

  • avoid tall grass and shrubbery areas

  • wear light-colored clothing (ticks are easier to see)

  • wear long pants tucked into socks

  • widen trails through woods (to 6 feet)

  • remove brushpiles

  • keep turfgrass mowed

  • thin out low shrub vegetation in woods

  • wear a tick repellent


Repellents are applied to clothing and/or skin and repel 82 to 100% of ticks.  



Township of West Milford OEM


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