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Deadly Lone Star Tick's Territory Expanding Thanks to Climate Change

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The territory where Lone Star ticks live is expanding. Scientists think that climate change is allowing this aggressive tick to expand its current territory.

While some believe it is the first time this tick has been seen in New England and surrounding states, others say it is just returning to its former territory. The chances are that the tick is catching rides on deer to move into its expanded territory.    

Lone Star Ticks Physical Appearance

The appearance of Lone Star ticks changes throughout its life. As larvae, they typically measure between 0.5 and 1 millimeter in length.

At this stage, the larvae have a distinct white star on their back, which gives them their name. They are usually light brown to tan. Larvae have six legs.  

Many people find this insect the most dangerous at this stage. That is because they hunt food in groups that can consist of over 100 individuals. Therefore, people who enter their territory can be attacked by numerous ticks at the same time.     It can take several weeks to months for the larvae to become nymphs. They must get nutrients from a host before they can shed their exoskeleton.

At the nymph stage, these ticks look a little more reddish-brown. Their oval bodies usually measure about 0.5 millimeters longer than a lymph. They also grow two more legs. One characteristic they do not lose is the white star on their bodies.     Once the tick becomes an adult, some differences exist between males and females. Females usually measure about 6 millimeters long, while males only measure about 3 millimeters long. Males remain brown.

Females look more reddish-brown until they eat. Then, they turn gray. Both males and females develop hooks on the ends of their legs.    



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